Conference Coverage

Robocalls increase diabetic retinopathy screenings in low-income patients



Sending robocall reminders increased diabetic retinopathy screenings significantly among low-income, minority patients, according to a presentation at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

Patients with diabetes require routine diabetic retinopathy (DR) screenings as it is usually asymptomatic until vision loss, explained presenter Eli K. Ipp, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Sending robocalls is an easy, relatively cheap solution to encourage patients to seek screening, especially for certain populations that may be less inclined to spend the time and money to do so.

A photo of diabetic macular edema is shown Copyright National Eye Institute
“Diabetic retinopathy screening, when routine and periodic, is the only method that can pick up DR early enough to treat and prevent blindness,” said Dr. Ipp. “Robocall reminders improved the overall show rate for diabetes retinal screening in a low-income minority population.”

Investigators used EHRs to randomly selected 350 patients with diabetes to receive either a prerecorded message 1-7 days ahead of an existing appointment or a phone call from a staff member reminding patients of an upcoming appointment, during the course of 7 weeks.

Patients included were aged 54-58 years, and 70% were Hispanic and 30% were African American, with more than half this population having less than a high school education and three-quarters having an income less than $25,000.

Overall show rate for screenings was almost 14% higher in the robocall group (59.9%) than in the control group (46.3%).

Among African Americans, the program worked especially well, closing the gap with Hispanic patients, who reported attending their appointments nearly twice as often as did African American patients the previous year.

Next Article: