Perinatal exposure to hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health issue, and poor testing rates leave many children with infection unidentified. We sought to use the electronic health record (EHR) to promote guideline-directed HCV testing among infants born to mothers with HCV infection in an urban, safety-net hospital system.
Our study population was identified using our EHR database, Epic. Children were included in the study if they had perinatal HCV exposure, were 18 months to 18 years of age and had at least 1 encounter in a primary or urgent care clinic during the study period. Our study included retrospective (October 2011 to February 2015) and prospective (February 2015 to May 2018) arms. Our EHR-based intervention was initiated in the prospective arm and recommended a one-time HCV antibody test at or after the age of 18 months using a health maintenance reminder. The health maintenance reminder activated a point-of-care alert and a linked HCV testing order set in all prespecified encounters during the intervention period.
Median time to appropriate HCV testing decreased from 96.2 months preintervention to 9.1 months postintervention (P < 0.0001), and rate of completed antibody testing increased from 14% to 61% (P < 0.0001).
Among children with perinatal HCV exposure, using a point-of-care alert within the EHR significantly increased the HCV antibody testing rate in accordance with American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations. More effective EHR-based interventions combined with increased provider awareness of appropriate HCV testing in perinatally exposed infants is imperative.