Timing can be everything when it comes to preventive care. Patients want to be quickly alerted of potential health concerns before they become problems. Similarly, healthcare organizations want to be able to administer exams and tests early on so patients can avoid diseases and other major health issues.
It goes without saying that there is particular urgency in providing timely preventive care when it comes to early detection of cancer. Due to the speed that some cancers can spread throughout organs and the body, it’s critical that diagnostics and screenings be conducted are early as possible based on established medical recommendations.
Each March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with Prevent Cancer Foundation observe National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to spread the word about colorectal cancer prevention. Screening tests, such as a routine colonoscopy, can detect precancerous polyps early so that they can be removed before they become cancerous.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all adults ages 50 to 75 years be screened for colorectal cancer. That’s because the vast majority of new cases of colorectal cancer (about 90 percent) occur in people who are 50 or older. Some groups recommend a colonoscopy even earlier, beginning at age 45.
Both the observance of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and information that adults 50 and older need to have a colonoscopy is of course important news for patients. However, patients don’t always remember or aren’t always aware of the various types of preventive care that they need and when they need them.
But that’s where healthcare providers can play a vital role in prevention efforts. And it’s why patient recall, the ability of providers to contact patients about scheduling certain types of preventive appointments and procedures, can be instrumental in helping patients get the critical care they need in a timely manner. Unfortunately, most providers don’t have the staff resources to reach out manually by phone call to every patient that fits the criteria for a given preventive procedure or test.
One of the most effective ways of reaching out to patients for much-needed preventive screenings such as a colonoscopy is through a digital patient relationship platform that allows a provider to send automated recall messages by text or email. Through automated messaging, providers can connect with large numbers of patients quickly and conveniently in a short period of time. Automated recall messages can help remind patients to schedule appointments for preventive procedures like a colonoscopy screening, which can increase patient adherence and result in better outcomes.
Another tool that a patient relationship management (PRM) solution offers providers to support preventive care is patient education. Using the example of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a provider could text or email patient education information about colorectal cancer and the importance of a colonoscopy in the form of a pre-visit instructions message or a post-appointment reminder.
Automated recall and patient education messages about colonoscopies not only help patients schedule the preventive procedures they need but also help providers fill up their schedule and maximize reimbursement for value-based care.
For more information about how patient communication preferences have changed during COVID and why texting is now the go-to means of connecting with patients, download the guide, “Text: It’s What’s Next.”