Promoting patient engagement in treatment and reducing frequency of missed appointments result in higher value through both improved outcomes and improved efficiency. For this reason, continuous quality improvement (CQI) efforts to increase engagement are important in service operations. This column illustrates the results of a CQI study to determine the impact of method of delivery of phone appointment reminders on attendance rates for a cohort of 250 primary care patients with depression. Results indicated that the type of reminder had a significant impact on attendance. Live reminders had the lowest no-show rate (3%), then message or voice mail reminders (24%) and no answer (39%). These findings illustrate the value of CQI efforts for even such basic interventions as appointment reminders. Appointment attendance rates were considerably higher when there was a live contact. CQI efforts related to reminders therefore may benefit from rapid change cycles that incorporate monitoring of the type of reminder delivery and that continuously seek better strategies for engagement.
Keywords: No-show; PDSA; Primary care; Quality improvement; Veterans issues.