Automated phone notifications engage patients, boost follow-up care

cell phone ear buds

Providers that want to encourage patients to schedule follow-up tests may want to take a page from the Louisiana-based Ochsner Health System. The organization nipped patient procrastination in the bud by implementing an automated phone notification system to make it easy for patients to schedule appointments.

Ochsner used the system to get 578 patients to schedule colon cancer screenings, which led to the diagnosis of pre-cancerous polyps in an estimated 145 patients, according to Medical Economics. The result is pretty remarkable, given that the health system had previously been close to the bottom of the national average for colorectal screening.

The automated system gave the organization the ability to send notifications to patients’ cell phones. Patients could respond quickly and easily with the touch of a button, which would connect them with a live person who could either schedule the appointment or respond to questions, the article noted.

A stumbling block for implementing this type of automation is that many providers don’t know if they have patients’ landline or cell phone numbers, according to the article. That’s why providers need to capture these contact details during office visits, in addition to patients’ preferences regarding how they’d like to be contacted.