Web-based system may improve mammography screening rates


NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Mar 28 - A Web-based reminder system can significantly increase mammography screening rates among eligible women, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine for March 26.

Screening mammography is currently recommended every one to two years for women age 40 and older. However, recent reports suggest that a large proportion of eligible women, perhaps the majority, do not undergo screening.

To address this, Dr. Rajeev Chaudry and colleagues, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, developed a Web-based system, known as the PREventive Care REminder System (PRECARES), to help secretaries arrange breast cancer screening for their group practice.

Each month, the system provides a list of women who are due for mammographic screening in the next 3 months. The secretary then sends a letter to all patients who are not yet scheduled for screening, asking them to call for an appointment. If the patient does not call, a second letter is sent and if the patient still does not respond, a phone call is made.

In the present study, Dr. Chaudry's team compared mammographic screening rates for 3,326 women who were randomized to PRECARES and 3,339 who were not involved in a regular reminder system. In a subanalysis, PRECARES delivery via email was compared with delivery via standard mail.

The mammography rate in the PRECARES group was 64.3%, significantly higher than the 55.3% rate seen in the control group (p < 0.001). In the subanalysis, no significant difference was seen in rates for email versus standard mail delivery of PRECARES.

"The breast cancer screening rate improved significantly with the practice redesign of having appointment secretaries proactively manage breast cancer screening needs," the authors conclude. "Many preventive screening services can be delivered without involvement of physicians or physician visits, and office staff can manage the preventive service needs of patients, which should also decrease the costs incurred by practices, patients, and insurers."

Last Updated: 2007-03-27 12:30:22 -0400 (Reuters Health)

Arch Intern Med 2007;167:606-611.

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