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J Fam Pract. 1993 Dec;37(6):569-74.

Office systems for promoting screening mammography. A survey of primary care practices.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester.



Office tracking, scheduling, and reminder systems have been shown to improve utilization of screening mammography, but little is known about the use of these systems by primary care physicians.


We surveyed 132 primary care and obstetrics and gynecology practices affiliated with an independent practice association model health maintenance organization in central Massachusetts to determine their use of reminder, scheduling, and follow-up systems, and education and counseling services aimed at increasing screening mammography rates.


The use of chart flags to remind physicians of a patient's need for mammography screening was reported by 30% of practices. Thirty-one percent reported the use of flow sheets, and 27% reported the use of mail or telephone patient reminders. At least one of these three systems was used by 57% of the practices, whereas 43% reported having none of these three systems. Variations in the use of these office systems were related to specialty type, physician number, and clinical staffing. The majority of practices (77%) reported using written educational materials, and 42% offered prevention counseling with nonphysician staff. Very few offices (8%) reported using mail or telephone reminders for previously scheduled appointments.


Despite the proven effectiveness of reminder systems for screening mammography, many practices do not have a system in place. Promotion of reminder systems in primary care practices could have a substantial impact on mammography utilization.

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