Use a Flow Sheet

This is a form with columns that is used to record important data about preventive care. It facilitates recording of standardized information about age- and gender-specific preventive health recommendations, date ordered/discussed with patient, examination/test dates or patient refusal, diagnostic results, and follow-up orders/recommendations at each visit. This is an ongoing record of patient CRC screening information, as well as other data related to preventive health measures over time. The flow sheet facilitates the office practice team’s ability to track physician/office recommendations, patient’s compliance, and test results. The form can be either paper-based or used in conjunction with an electronic health record.

Key Points for Implementing and Using Flow Sheets:

Use CRC screening guidelines as the basis for deciding what critical data needs to be recorded on the flow sheet. Sample flow sheets are available and can be used as a basis for developing your office practice preventive health/screening form. Many of these resources can be found in How to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates in Practice: A Primary Care Clinician’s Evidence-Based Toolbox and Guide

  • Establish goals for each element and document on the flow sheet. Use the flow sheet for identifying patient progress toward these targeted expectations
  • Involve office staff when introducing the flow sheet. Determine what entries should be delegated to staff members and empower staff to help develop a streamlined procedure for flow sheet use that fits into the office workflow
  • Avoid redundancy in documentation. If recording data on the flow sheet, it should not be necessary for the same data to be recorded elsewhere in the patient’s record
  • Keeping the form in a uniform place in the chart will help ensure consistent use of the flow sheet at every visit
  • Test the form with one patient and revise if needed. Then continue to test with a few more patients. Assign office staff to monitor use of the flow sheet when it is first initiated. Make changes to the form or to the office procedures as issues are identified. You may need to make several changes until you are all satisfied with the flow sheet and how it is being utilized