Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Can a Digital Health App Increase CRC Screening?

Ann Intern Med; ePub 2018 Mar 13; Miller, et al

A digital health intervention that allows patients to self-order tests can increase colorectal cancer screening, a recent study found. The randomized controlled trial examined the effect of a digital health intervention, Mobile Patient Technology for Health-CRC (mPATH-CRC), on rates of CRC screening. 450 patients (223 in the mPATH-CRC group and 227 in usual care) from 6 community-based primary care practices who were scheduled for a primary care visit and due for routine CRC screening were included. The iPad application displays a CRC screening decision aid, lets patients order their own screening tests, and sends automated follow-up electronic messages to support patients. The primary outcome was chart-verified completion of CRC screening within 24 weeks. Researchers found:

  • Baseline characteristics were similar between groups.
  • Screening was completed by 30% of the mPATH-CRC participants vs 15% in the usual care group.
  • Compared with usual care, more mPATH-CRC participants could state a screening preference, planned to be screened within 6 months, discussed screening with their provider, and had a screening test ordered.
  • Approximately half of mPATH-CRC users “self-ordered” a test.


Miller DP, Denizard-Thompson N, Weaver KE, et al. Effect of a digital health intervention on receipt of colorectal cancer screening in vulnerable patients: A randomized controlled trial. [Published online ahead of print March 13, 2018]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M17-2315.