Patients may not follow up or follow their care plan for reasons beyond the patient’s control (i.e., related to their social, cultural, or otherwise “external” environment). Be sure that the plan “fits” and is accessible for each patient.
The same registry or tracking system that is used to monitor response to treatment also can be used to identify patients who are not following up as planned. Patients who do not follow up include the following:
- Patients who are “no shows” at scheduled appointments;
- Patients who do not schedule followup appointments; and
- Patients who do not respond to emails, phone calls, or paper letters after a reasonable period of time.
A patient may not follow up for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- The patient is not “improving.”
- The patient feels he or she has “improved.”
- The patient has encountered setbacks.
- The patient does not like the provider or the care received.
- The patient’s contact information is not up to date.
- The patient is not engaged in his or her own care plan.
Understanding why a patient has not followed up allows for an outreach approach tailored to the specific circumstances.
If assist and support services are available, such as through a care/case management program, assist and support personnel can provide outreach to patients and assess treatment adherence and response.
Specific outreach strategies might include:
- Onsite clinic/practice assistance;
- Phone calls;
- Patient portal notifications;
- Postcards; and/or
- Home visits.
Which outreach method is most appropriate depends on factors specific to your integrated care setting. Any of these methods can be effective if used consistently.
Review your practice’s followup procedures and ensure that there is a systematic followup system in place. Systematic followup may involve a wide range of tools or methods such as appointment reminders, panel reviews using a registry, and many others.