- 1Department of Medicine, NorthShore University Health System, Evanston, Illinois (Drs Zijlstra and Fimmel and Ms Fidel Nague); Departments of Pharmacy (Dr Louie) and Clinical Analytics (Ms Imas), NorthShore University Health System, Skokie, Illinois; and Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon (Dr Sonnenberg).
Context: Birth cohort ("baby boomer") screening represents a well-validated strategy for the identification of asymptomatic hepatitis C-infected patients. However, successful linkage of newly diagnosed patients to antiviral therapy has been more difficult to accomplish.
Objective: To analyze the results of a systemwide birth cohort screening program in a US community health care system.
Design: We analyzed the data from an ongoing hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening and treatment program that was established at NorthShore University Health System in 2015. Hepatitis C virus screening by primary care providers was prompted through automated Best Practice and Health Maintenance alerts. Patient visits and screening orders were tracked using a customized HCV dashboard. Virologic, demographic, and treatment data were assessed and compared with those of a cohort of patients with previously established HCV infection.
Results: Since program inception, 61 8161 (64.3%) of the entire NorthShore baby boomer population of 96 001 patients have completed HCV antibody testing, and 160 patients (0.26%) were antibody positive. Of 152 antibody-positive patients who underwent HCV RNA testing, 53 (34.2%) were viremic. A total of 39 of 53 patients (73.6%) underwent antiviral therapy and achieved a sustained virologic response. Compared with patients identified through screening, a comparison cohort of patients with previously established HCV had more advanced fibrosis and significantly lower dropout rates. The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a decrease in the number of outpatient visits of screening-eligible patients and with a reduction in HCV screening rates.
Conclusion: Our data demonstrate the electronic medical records-assisted systemwide implementation of HCV birth cohort screening and successful linkage to antiviral therapy in a community-based US multihospital system.