HealthWare Systems Blog
on Monday, October 1, 2018
October is the perfect time to focus on increasing mammogram appointments. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, prioritize preventive care using the suggestions below.
Consider these ideas for increasing mammogram appointments at your facility:
Educate your patients on breast cancer prevention. Patients may be unclear on the correct or most-up-to-date recommendations for mammography screening or may have heard conflicting instructions from different organizations. Make sure your clinicians clarify.
“Current guidelines from the American College of Radiology and the Society for Breast Imaging recommend that women receive annual mammograms starting at age 40 — even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer.”
Ensure patients are aware that most health plans are required to cover the cost of a breast cancer mammography screening for women over 40 every 1 to 2 years (when performed by an in-network provider). Highlight the fact that most plans also cannot charge a copayment or coinsurance for this service even if the patient has not met her yearly deductible yet. Some states even require insurers to cover 3D mammograms. Instruct patients to check with their insurance company. Additionally, help patients find out if they qualify for financial assistance and facilitate the application process for them.
Send mammogram reminders through texts, emails, letters, postcards, and/or phone calls. A study conducted by Kaiser Permanente found mammogram reminders to be very effective in increasing mammogram appointments, especially when sent to patients whose mammogram appointments were coming due.
When patients check in, instruct registrars to ask them if they’ve scheduled their annual mammogram exam yet; and if not, have registrars try to schedule one with them. Additionally, registrars should confirm they have the correct mailing address and phone number for the patient in the system used to send mammogram reminders.
Use their time in the waiting room as an opportunity to reach your patients. For example, print mammogram reminders on the back of wayfinding maps. If you use a lobby display screen or patient notification board, include mammogram reminders and breast cancer prevention facts that appear periodically throughout your rotation of announcements. Or, use a mammogram reminder as the full-time backdrop of your screen.
(Read here how one acute care facility used ActiveTRACK to promote customizable messages, including encouragement of mammogram appointments during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to patients in their waiting area.)
Improve patient engagement with preventive health by utilizing social media in healthcare. Share mammogram reminders, educational materials, and powerful statistics demonstrating the importance of early detection. For instance, according to the American College of Radiology, “mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 40% since 1990” and “skipping a mammogram every other year would miss up to 30% of cancers.”
Accommodate your patients. Allow for evening and weekend mammogram appointments. Besides providing interpreters and educational materials in various languages, train staff to understand how culture affects health and healthcare decisions in order to reach patients of all backgrounds. Don’t let inconvenience or cultural barriers stand in the way of accessing preventive care.
Emphasize your goal of increasing mammogram appointments to your staff. Stratis Health suggests providing your clinicians and registrars with “missed opportunity” reports, which would demonstrate the number of patients who visited throughout the month who were due/overdue for their mammogram appointments but did not get scheduled.
October is the opportune time to launch a breast cancer awareness campaign! Of course, the suggestions above are best used throughout the entire year to help you in your goal of increasing mammogram appointments and improving your rates of early detection to save lives.