McMaster University

McMaster University

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Health Sciences

McMaster's P-PROMPT team earns innovation award

Published: May 28, 2007
Rolf Sebaldt
Rolf Sebaldt

A computer program developed in conjunction with McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine that is helping to increase the number of people in Ontario receiving cancer screening has won an Ontario Health Minister’s Innovation Award.

P-PROMPT (Provider-Patient Reminders in Ontario Multi-strategy Prevention) was one of six winners of the Celebrating Innovations in Health Care Expo 2007 Awards, which recognize innovative programs that are changing health care in Ontario.

The award was given to the Department of Family Medicine and Fig P. Software Incorporated, which jointly created the software program that alerts doctors about patients who are overdue for cancer screening.

The P-PROMPT team includes Rolf Sebaldt, an associate clinical professor of medicine and president of Fig P. Software; Janusz Kaczorowski, associate professor of family medicine; Ron Goeree, associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics; and Lynne Lohfeld, assistant professor of CE&B and associate member of family medicine.

P-PROMPT has helped doctors boost the number of people getting Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer and mammograms to screen for breast cancer. It also helped increase the number of men and women getting fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) to screen for colorectal cancer.

One of the criteria for determining the winners of the innovation awards is the impact on important priorities and challenges in the health care system. P-PROMPT is helping the province come closer to reaching its targets for cancer screening. Only 17 per cent of Ontarians aged 50 to 74 get FOBT, and 60 per cent of women aged 50 to 69 get mammograms. The province wants 90 per cent of the designated populations to receive these tests. For Pap tests, about 80 per cent of women aged 20 to 69 have had one in the last three years, but the province’s target is 95 per cent.

Sebaldt said the software resulted in at least 10,000 women, who might otherwise not have been tested, getting screened for cancer in 2006.

The software also keeps track of vaccinations, alerting doctors to seniors needing flu shots or children requiring immunizations.

The software program works by using provincial databases to determine when patients need cancer screening or vaccinations. Doctors who signed up for the program use a secure password-protected website to access the database and see which of their patients need screening or shots.

The province provided $3 million in seed money to get the program started, but physicians now pay an annual fee to keep the service.
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