Computerized reminders boost mammography screening rates

ography for over 10,000 women. When women get the reminder notice, it means they are preapproved, so the mammography can be scheduled with the first phone call without having to consult the physician."

"Not everyone needs to see a doctor every year, but they still should get the appropriate preventive care and screenings," explains Robert Stroebel, M.D., chair, Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic and the study's senior author. "We were pleasantly surprised at how much we could increase mammography percentages through this new system. As we get more women screened, we're also going to find cancers earlier, when we're more likely to be able to treat them successfully. The goal is to improve the value of heath care, providing higher quality at lower cost by having all members of the health care team working at their highest potential," Dr. Stroebel says. "We already have expanded this reminder method to Pap smears and diabetes care, and will be adding other preventive services this year."

"This kind of practice happens in other fields," says co-author Rosa Cabanela. "Dentist practices, for example, typically call or mail patients to remind them to make an appointment. Health care has been behind many other industries in using technology to optimize service and efficiency. It's time to catch up."

Dr. Chaudhry says the study has important implications in designing better care delivery systems. "With baby boomers getting older and having more chronic conditions, it's estimated that a primary care physician may have to spend up to six hours a day managing the preventive services and chronic disease tests for his or her patient population," he says. "By using information technology and a team approach to manage chronic and preventive care, we can free physicians to focus on the individualized needs of their patients."


Contact: Lee Aase
Mayo Clinic

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