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Automated Phone Outreach Doesn't Improve Testing Rates

Rates of diabetes-related tests no higher in those reached by calls with speech recognition

FRIDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Automated telephone outreach with speech recognition (ATO-SR) does not improve rates of diabetes-related testing compared with usual care, according to research published in the July issue of Diabetes Care.

Steven R. Simon, M.D., of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, randomly assigned 1,200 health plan members identified as overdue for diabetes-related testing to either ATO-SR (three phone calls encouraging testing) or usual care (no intervention) to see what effect ATO-SR has on diabetes-related testing.

Of the 600 patients randomized to ATO-SR, the researchers found that 232 (39 percent) responded verbally to the calls, but there was no difference between the two groups in the health plan's primary goal of retinopathy testing, or in testing for glycemia, hyperlipidemia, and nephropathy.

"As with any technological intervention, refinement of this approach may enhance its effectiveness; this 'negative' study does not rule out the potential for future success. To be effective, these interventions need to incorporate methods for ensuring greater participation, possibly through a partnership with clinicians. Further research is also needed to understand the characteristics of patients who may resist this type of intervention in order to develop alternative approaches that might be more effective," the authors conclude.

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