Integrating routine HCV testing in primary care: Lessons learned from five federally qualified health centers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2012-2014
Receipt of antibody results,Linkage to care
Laboratory-based antibody test,Laboratory-based PCR/RNA (confirmatory) test
Objective. An estimated 2.7-3.9 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Despite being the most common blood-borne virus in the United States, routine HCV testing is not commonly practiced. To address this gap, we measured the impact of integrated routine HCV testing on patient care. Methods. As part of CDC's Hepatitis Testing and Linkage to Care initiative, which promoted viral hepatitis B and hepatitis C screening, posttest counseling, and linkage to care at 34 U.S. sites, National Nursing Centers Consortium integrated a routine opt-out HCV testing and linkage-to-care model at five federally qualified health centers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from October 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014. The model included medical assistant-initiated testing, reflex laboratory-based HCV tests, and electronic health record modifications to prompt, track, and facilitate reimbursement for tests performed on uninsured patients. Results. During the study period, 4,207 unique patients received HCV antibody (anti-HCV) testing, of whom 488 (11.6%) tested anti-HCV positive. Of those testing positive, 433 (88.7%) received a confirmatory HCV RNA test; of these 433 recipients, 313 (72.3%) were diagnosed with current infection (overall prevalence = 7.4%), of which 243 (77.6%) received their HCV RNA-positive results, 184 (58.8%) were referred to an HCV care provider, and 121 (38.7%) were linked to care. The highest rates of current infection were among non-Hispanic white patients (18.1%, 90/496); patients from the Public Health Management Corporation Care Clinic, which treats HIV and HCV patients on-site (14.3%, 200/1,394); and patients aged 50-69 years (10.7%, 189/1,767). Conclusion. Our model successfully integrated HCV testing and linkage to care into routine primary care. This study also identified potential successes and barriers that may be experienced by other primary care health centers that are integrating HCV testing. Copyright © 2016 Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.