A targeted news program encouraging patients who canceled appointments due to the COVID-19 pandemic to return to medical services was found to modestly revive patient engagement. These results from a randomized clinical trial were published on the JAMA Network Open.
Patients who canceled visits, interventions, or operations at 3 University of Pennsylvania Health System hospitals between March and June 2020 were randomly assigned at a 9: 1 ratio between June and July to receive or not receive a letter. In the contact cohort, patients were randomized 1: 1 to receive a customized or standardized letter and 1: 1 to receive the letter by mail or electronically.
Of the 38,493 cancellations that occurred during the study period, 11,120 visits were not postponed. The patients had a mean age of 59.7 (range 18-100) years, 55% were women, and 61% were white.
Within one month of receiving the letter, patients who had and had not received a letter returned for a face-to-face visit at similar rates (5.0% vs. 4.1%; P = 0.18). Letter recipients were more likely to take part in a telemedical visit (1.3% vs. 0.4%; P = 0.006) or plan a future visit (14.4% vs. 11.7%; P = 0.02).
Personalized letters were more effective than standardized letters in encouraging patients to schedule a visit (15.3% vs. 13.4%; P = 0.006), especially for patients who made orthopedic appointments (14.9% vs. 10 , 9%; P <0.001), patients younger than 65 years (13.7% vs 11.0%; P = 0.002), commercially insured patients (13.7% vs 11.0%; P = 0.005), women (15.7% vs 13.5%; P = 0.02) and those below the median income of $ 72,157 (15.7% vs 13.5%; P = 0.03).
Letters received by mail were more effective than electronic messages in patients with or above the median income of $ 77,695 (16.6% vs 13.0%; P = 0.008).
It remains unclear whether these results can be transferred to other regions or in non-pandemic situations.
The study authors concluded that targeted messaging of patients lost to the COVID-19 pandemic was not effective in promoting personal readmission, but modestly increased telemedicine and planning for future visits.
Cappola AR, Schriver ER, Mowery DL et al. Effect of Targeted Messages on Returning to In-Person Visits During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA network open. 2021; 4 (6): e2115211. doi: 10.1001 / jamanetworkopen.2021.15211
This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor