How to Call Patients for Recall

Ensuring patients make preventive visits a priority starts with multi-modal outreach and recall messaging that is meaningful and inspires patients to take action.

December 20, 2021

Patients may be more inspired to focus on their health during this time of year for a variety of reasons. For some, the holiday season can be busy and even stressful, especially considering the lingering impacts of the pandemic. Others may have signed up for new health insurance—including those who were not covered previously, especially as subsidies recently increased for ACA marketplace plans. For all these reasons, January is an ideal time to learn best practices for how to "call" patients for recall. Spoiler: it’s not a call.

Since only 8% of adults in the US are getting recommended health services that are considered high priority, such as vaccinations, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings as well as tests for diseases like cancer and osteoporosis, recall strategies can have far-reaching, positive impacts on health outcomes. Ensuring patients make preventive visits a priority starts with multi-modal outreach and the right messaging. 

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Five Barriers to Care that Recall Messaging Can Overcome

Personalizing your recall messaging to encourage patients to seek care, while also addressing the top five reasons for non-compliance, helps you connect with people who might not otherwise schedule a healthcare visit. 

#1: Nearly 1 in 3 patients think they can’t afford preventive care.

Since all health insurance obtained through, and many other health plans, cover preventive services at no out-of-pocket cost, it’s a good idea to remind patients who may be concerned about costs.

Sample message
Well-child exams are an important part of a child’s healthcare and are often available at no cost to you. Please reply “1” to schedule an appointment, or “2” to decline.

#2: Few (28%) are aware of which services are recommended for them.

By pulling data directly from the EHR, it’s simple to remind the right patients about the care that’s right for them. 

Sample message
Please reply “1” to schedule your routine Pap test if you have not done so in the last 12 months. Reply “2” to decline.

#3: Almost 25% don’t know when they’re due for a visit.

Sending reminders via SMS keeps patients in the know at the moment they’re ready to schedule. And, because schedules change, patients will appreciate being able to change their appointment date or time by SMS (text message) with the help of a patient engagement platform like EHR embedded HouseCalls Pro. 

Sample message
[Practice Name] encourages you to schedule your annual physical. Please reply “1” to schedule, or “2” to decline.

#4: One out of five don’t know where to access preventive care.

Simply including details like office hours and open locations for services like COVID-19 testing or routine screenings can ease new and existing patients’ minds (especially if they’re seeking care for the first time in a while).

Sample message
You can schedule your heart-health screening at [Practice Name], located at [Address] between the hours of [X:00 a.m. and Y:00 p.m.]. Please reply “1” to schedule, or “2” to decline.

#5: Patients who aren’t sick may not seek care—27% only schedule appointments when they’re feeling ill.

Sharing educational information about a specific, recommended preventive care service, like a colonoscopy, can reinforce the importance of these types of visits. 

Sample message
A colonoscopy screening is recommended starting at age 50. If you have not scheduled a screening in the last 5 years, please reply “1” to schedule. Reply “2” to decline.

Automated, Personalized and Timely Reminders are Key

By infusing recall messages with custom, relevant tips that are tailored to the right individuals, you can encourage patients to act. One way to accomplish this is by employing an automated patient engagement platform that embeds directly into your electronic health record (EHR). Not only can you automate outreach, but adding a touch of personalization based on age, health history or other variables is simple when you’re already relying on EHR data. To take this communication to the next level, platforms like HouseCalls Pro make it easy for patients to respond and even self-schedule appointments directly from an SMS message. 

…Which brings us to the spoiler. Not only do 7 of 10 patients report they would like providers to contact them more frequently between office appointments, 97% of patients text, including 92% of seniors, and 37% of patients are texting more because of the pandemic. The convenience of responding to a text message when the patient has the time and focus increases the likelihood that they will engage in dialogue about care and schedule an appointment. So, when initiating a call for recalling patients, start with a text!

For a more in-depth look at these best practices and more, download the eBook Bringing Patients Back to Preventive Care . And for organizations planning for the New Year and beyond, download this year-round messaging calendar with well-timed message examples that can enhance patient recall strategies for preventive care.

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