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Telephone Calls Encourage More Timely Mammography Follow-up

Article

More research needed to evaluate the role of communication in completing the breast cancer screening episode.

Telephone communication for patients after screening mammography results in higher rates of follow-up imaging, according to a study published in the journal Academic Radiology.

Researchers from several states sought to evaluate the association of communication practices with timely follow-up of screening mammograms read as Breast Imaging Reporting and Data Systems (BI-RADS) 0 in the Population-based Research Optimizing Screening through Personalized Regimens (PROSPR) consortium.

The researchers analyzed 34,680 mammography examinations with a BI-RADS 0 assessment among 28 facilities. Timely follow-up was considered to be within 15 days of the screening mammogram.

The results showed that across all facilities, 85.6 percent of examinations had a follow-up within 15 days. Patients in a facility where routine practice was to contact the patient by phone if follow-up imaging was recommended were more likely to have timely follow-up. When mail was the standard method of communication, there was reduced timely follow-up. Facilities that had standard use of electronic health records to report the need for follow-up imaging to a provider also had less timely follow-up. Facilities that routinely contacted patients by mail if they missed a follow-up imaging visit were more likely to have timely follow-up.

The researchers concluded that there was value to using telephone communication for patients in relation to timely follow-up. Future research is needed to evaluate the role of communication in completing the breast cancer screening episode.

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