Multiple Reminders Not Very Effective—63 Percent Had No Eye Exam

| Aug 1, 1999

Two patient reminders are more effective than one reminder in improving diabetic retinal exam rates in a managed care setting.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. According to the American Optometric Association, 8,000 people with diabetes go blind each year, and half of the 16 million Americans with diabetes are at risk for developing retinopathy and other diseases that lead to blindness. Screening and treatment for diabetic retinal disease have been shown to prevent vision loss.

According to the May issue of Diabetes Care, people with diabetes that were enrolled in a large, network-based health maintenance organization (HMO) were evaluated to see how they responded to eye exam scheduling efforts. Some patients received a single letter emphasizing the importance of an eye exam, others received an additional letter and then a follow-up letter.

To determine whether the members had the eye exam during the study period, researchers reviewed medical claims from either ophthalmologists or optometrists in the HMO.

The researchers discovered that 35.4 percent of the members receiving a single letter and 37 percent of the members receiving more than one letter scheduled an eye exam. Approximately 63 percent of all members did not schedule an eye exam. Furthermore, the effect of a third and fourth reminder was small.

The researchers conclude that money saved by not sending additional reminders might be better spent on encouraging diabetic patients to have foot examinations or HbA1c testing, which might improve blood glucose control and improve their health status. By raising overall awareness of good prevention efforts, these activities might raise the number of retinal examinations as well.

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Categories: A1c Test, Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Eye Care (Retinopathy)


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