Evaluation of the use of decision-support software in carcino-embryonic antigen (CEA)-based follow-up of patients with colorectal cancer
1 Department of Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, PO Box 30001, 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands
2 Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, PO Box 30001, 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands
3 Department of Surgery, Catharina Hospital, PO Box 1350, 5602 ZA Eindhoven, the Netherlands
BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2012, 12:14 doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-14Published: 5 March 2012
The present paper is a first evaluation of the use of "CEAwatch", a clinical support software system for surgeons for the follow-up of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. This system gathers Carcino-Embryonic Antigen (CEA) values and automatically returns a recommendation based on the latest values.
Consecutive patients receiving follow-up care for CRC fulfilling our in- and exclusion criteria were identified to participate in this study. From August 2008, when the software was introduced, patients were asked to undergo the software-supported follow-up. Safety of the follow-up, experiences of working with the software, and technical issues were analyzed.
245 patients were identified. The software-supported group contained 184 patients; the control group contained 61 patients. The software was safe in finding the same amount of recurrent disease with fewer outpatient visits, and revealed few technical problems. Clinicians experienced a decrease in follow-up workload of up to 50% with high adherence to the follow-up scheme.
CEAwatch is an efficient software tool helping clinicians working with large numbers of follow-up patients. The number of outpatient visits can safely be reduced, thus significantly decreasing workload for clinicians.