The use of patient and physician reminders for preventive services: results from a National Study of Physician Organizations

Prev Med. 2004 Nov;39(5):1000-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.04.005.


Background: Clinical preventive services improve patient health, and reminder systems can increase the use of such services. However, physician organizations often underutilize clinical preventive service reminders. Little is known about the incentives, capabilities, and organizational characteristics associated with the use of reminders by physician organizations.

Methods: The predictors of patient and physician reminder system use were examined in a sample of 1,104 US physician organizations. The cross-sectional sample was obtained through a telephone survey with a 70% response rate.

Results: Fifty-one percent of physician organizations used mammogram reminders, 41% used influenza immunization reminders, and 26% used eye exam reminders for patients. Eighteen percent of physician organizations used computer-generated reminders to physicians. Required reporting of data (P = 0.0006), public recognition for quality (P = 0.0002), and IT capabilities (P < 0.0001) were strongly associated with patient reminder use. Medical groups were more likely to use patient-level reminders than independent practice associations (IPAs) (P < 0.0001). Physician reminder use was related to required reporting of data (P < 0.0001) and IT capabilities (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Physician organizations have relatively low use of preventive service reminders to patients and physicians. Offering quality incentives to physician organizations and improving their IT capabilities may increase the use of preventive service reminders and improve the delivery of preventive care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Group Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Preventive Health Services / methods*
  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reminder Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States