Reminder: be sure to send reminders

A recent literature review published in the Cochrane database centered on how medical doctors could persuade more of their patients to get their annual flu shots, but the results may prove valuable to chiropractors as well.

The researchers focused in on three studies where participants received a letter, postcard or phone call personalized to his or her health status. The results were clear: reminding people to get their shots worked. “Personalized postcards or phone calls are effective,” the researchers concluded.

The results are similar to those received from a 2005 report, which found that “Reminding people to have vaccinations increased the number of people vaccinated, whether the people were due or overdue for vaccinations. The increases were observed in both children and adults for all types of vaccines, but not among urban adolescents in one study. Reminding people over the telephone, sending a letter or postcard, or speaking to them in person increased vaccinations. Providing numerous reminders was more effective than single reminders. Reminding people over the telephone was more effective than postcard or letter reminders, but reminders over the telephone may be expensive compared with alternative approaches. Reminders also worked whether it was from a private doctor’s office, a medical center, or a public health department clinic.”

Chiropractors can learn from this study and increase their “reminder” schedule, keeping in touch with patients who are overdue for a checkup or an adjustment. Although the schedule can include e-mails, I would suggest sending “snail mail” postcards and letters occasionally as well. This type of mail is actually less common today and has a more personal touch. Too many e-mails today are tagged as spam simply because they’re automated, and are far more easily missed or disposed of than an actual tangible item.

SOURCES: “Interventions to increase influenza vaccination rates of those 60 years and older in the community.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 9. ABSTRACT

“Patient reminder and recall systems to improve immunization rates.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 3. ABSTRACT

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I’ve been sending post cards as a reminder and find this to be very effective. I use a service called Send Out Cards where I can personalize the card with patient name and use a photo from my office for the front of the card. After the cars is sent, I follow up with a phone call 2 weeks later for those who had not come in.

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