HEDIS Measure: Non-Recommended Cervical Cancer Screening in Adolescent Females (NCS)
In general, patients prefer to avoid unnecessary health care procedures. For young women, this inclination is even stronger. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) measured the percentage of adolescent females, ages 16 to 20, who were screened unnecessarily for cervical cancer. The disturbing results prompted them to add Non-Recommended Cervical Cancer Screening in Adolescent Females (NCS) to its list of tests considered unnecessary.
75 Percent of Providers Not Following NCQA Guidelines
Fewer than 25 percent of clinicians provide care consistent with NCQA guidelines, even though many medical societies and evidence-based guidelines recommend against cervical cancer screening in females less than 21 years of age. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent panel of physicians who conduct scientific, evidence-based reviews of a broad range of clinical preventive health care services and develop recommendations for primary care clinicians. They determined that screening of women younger than 21, regardless of sexual history, does not reduce the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer compared with beginning screening at 21.
The Cost Is Huge
Inappropriate screening practices are significant financial burdens on the health care system. Approximately 4.7 million U.S. women under 21 receive a Pap test annually, costing $500 million per year.
The new NCS measure has the potential to decrease the use of non-recommended cervical cancer screening in adolescent females and to ensure that providers follow recommended guidelines.