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Back to 2017 Program


When No News is Bad News: Improving Diagnostic Testing Communication Through Patient Engagement
Terri A. Zomerlei, M.D., Amanda M. Carraher, PA-C, Amanda C. Brunswick, PA-C, Albert H. Chao, MD, David S. Cabiling, MD, Rajiv Y. Chandawarkar, MD.
The Ohio State Univeristy, Columbus, OH, USA.

PURPOSE:
Up to 17% of diagnostic test results are missed, lost or ignored - despite conventional fixes (constant barrage of electronic physician reminders and even threat of penalties). Naïvely, patients assume: ‘No-News-is-Good-News’. These lapses can result in poor outcomes, complications and even death. In response, CMS-led Physician-Quality-Reporting-System (PQRS) Measure#265 emphasizes prevention. Our pilot study aims to improve timely review of results through a novel, but simple approach: increase patient-engagement.
METHODS:
Sixty-one plastic-surgical patients undergoing diagnostic-testing were included in this IRB-approved study. Two groups, Group-A (Patients with medical chart access through our EMR “MyChart”, n=29); and Group-B (Controls, n=33) were included. Group-A was reminded (via written After-Visit-Summary {AVS} and MyChart messages) to ask about their test results at their next appointment. Controls were sent no reminders, mimicking the status-quo. At subsequent visits whether patients ‘asked’ or ‘did not ask’ about their results was recorded and analyzed (Fisher’s-Exact-Test). Study participants were also surveyed on their preferences for reminder communication.
RESULTS:
Patients that were sent reminders were up to 5-times more likely to ask their provider regarding their test-results than Controls; 15/29 patients in Group-A ‘asked’ compared to only 2/33 controls (p<0.001). Conversely 31/33 controls ‘did-not-ask’; 24/29 Group-A patients indicated that the reminders were helpful (in-fact 25 patients felt reminders were ‘necessary’). Neither gender nor age seemed predictive factors of patient engagement.
CONCLUSION:
This pilot study demonstrates that engaging patients in their own care through simple, already-existing tools (AVS, MyChart) improves patient-physician communication, and could lead to lower rates of missed diagnostic tests.


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