Reminders, recalls and prompts (flags)
Reminders are used to initiate prevention, before or during the patient visit. They can be either opportunistic or proactive. Recalls are a proactive follow up to a preventive or clinical activity. Prompts are usually computer generated, and designed to opportunistically draw attention during the consultation to a prevention or clinical activity needed by the patient. Using a recall system can seem complex, but there are three steps you can take:
- be clear about when and how you want to use these flags
- explore systems used by other practices, your division of general practice, and information technology specialists to ensure you get the correct system
- identify all the people who need to be recalled and place them in a practice register. This will help to ensure that the recall process is both systematic and complete.
Paper based recall system
The RACGP Recall Reminder Pads are an example of a noncomputerised follow up reminder system. Fill in the recall details and give your patient their copy, which is yellow. The GP or other practice staff member should complete the details in the stippled area of the recall reminder, which is white. The recall reminder copy, which is pink, may be filed with the patient’s history or with the recall card in the index box. The recall card is filed by month and year and can be colour coded. When required, the history is checked and if still relevant, the stippled area on the recall reminder is separated and discarded before posting the recall reminder copy. Action taken and outcome can be listed on the recall card kept in the index box.
The efficient use of reminders
Rather than sending a reminder to all elderly patients for their influenza vaccination in February/March, wait until April/May when a case note review (or review of your register) should identify the 10–20% of eligible patients who haven’t had the vaccine. There will be less administrative work and fewer reminders generated to every elderly patient.
John Litt, Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia