NEWS | September 25, 2020

Can better planning increase preventive health screening?


A team of UC Davis physicians, surgeons and public health specialists hoping to increase the use of recommended health screenings and vaccines is conducting a study to see if better planning in the doctor’s office prior to patient visits can help.

The new program will involve bundling orders for needed screening and vaccines in advance of doctor’s office visits. The new program will involve bundling orders for needed screening and vaccines in advance of doctor’s office visits.

The focus is to increase adherence to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for patients ages 50 and older.

With initial funding from a two-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, the first stage of the study will take place at UC Davis Health primary care offices in Elk Grove. If that proves successful, the study will expand to include additional clinics at UC Davis and UC Irvine through an additional three-year, $2.1 million grant.

The grant project is called “Enhancing Electronic Health Systems to Decrease the Burden of Colon Cancer, Lung Cancer, Obesity, Vaccine-Preventable Illness and LivER Cancer,” or CLOVER.

Prior to a patient’s visit, data in the electronic health record will be used to bundle orders for colon cancer screening, lung cancer screening, tobacco and obesity counseling, age-appropriate vaccines and hepatitis C screening, if needed. 

A planner who specializes in prevention education will contact the patient before the visit to discuss the interventions and why they are important, and to answer questions. The planner will then order the tests and vaccines, so they are ready for the physician to finalize together with the patient.

The lead physician on the grant is Eric Chak, assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology. Earlier this year, he created a similar program that significantly increased hepatitis B screening, resulting in the ordering of over 5,000 hepatitis B tests for at-risk patients.

Eric Chak, M.D.

“Primary care physicians are inundated with numerous patient health concerns throughout the day. As a result, some screening tests can be forgotten,” Chak said. “Those tests, though, are essential to detecting disease when it can be most effectively treated or even prevented. We want to see if population health tools and pre-visit planning can make it easier to increase compliance with national recommendations.”

CLOVER also is ready to add the COVID-19 vaccine, when available, to the list of needed interventions, according to Chak.

Additional principal investigators on the grant are Moon Chen of UC Davis Health and Jason Zell of UC Irvine. Their collaborators are Lisa Brown, David Cooke, Julie Dang, Jeffrey Hoch, Scott MacDonald and Susan Stewart of UC Davis Health. Their study is funded through National Institute on Aging grant 1R61AG068948-01.

More information about UC Davis Health — including its departments of Internal Medicine, Surgery and Public Health Sciences — is online at