Hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment can significantly reduce the risk of liver-related mortality; however, many patients remain unaware of their infection in clinical practice. The aim of this study is to compare the effectiveness of inreach, with and without mailed outreach, to increase HCV screening and follow-up in a large, difficult-to-reach patient population.
We conducted a pragmatic randomized clinical trial from August 2018 to May 2019 in a large safety-net health system. Patients born between 1945 and 1965 were randomly assigned (1:1) to inreach with an electronic health record reminder to providers (n = 6,195) or inreach plus mailed HCV screening outreach (n = 6,191) to complete HCV antibody screening. Outreach also included processes to promote HCV RNA testing among those with a positive HCV antibody and linkage to care among those with positive HCV RNA. The primary outcome was completion of HCV antibody testing within 3 months of randomization (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03706742).
We included 12,386 eligible patients (median age 60 years; 46.5% Hispanic, 33.0% Black, and 16.0% White). In intent-to-treat analyses, HCV screening completion was significantly higher among inreach-plus-outreach patients than inreach-alone patients at 3 months (14.6% vs 7.4%, P < 0.001) and 6 months (17.4% vs 9.8%, P < 0.001) after randomization. Among those who completed HCV screening within 6 months, a higher proportion of inreach-plus-outreach patients with positive antibody results completed RNA testing within 3 months than inreach-alone patients (81.1% vs 57.1%, respectively, P = 0.02); however, linkage to care within 3 months of HCV infection confirmation did not significantly differ between the 2 groups (48.1% vs 75.0%, respectively, P = 0.24).
Among difficult-to-reach patients, a combination of inreach and mailed outreach significantly increased HCV screening compared with inreach alone. However, HCV screening completion in both arms remained low, highlighting a need for more intensive interventions.