Provider Reminders

Photo of a doctor holding a tablet computer talking to a female patient

Doctors can help more patients get screened for cancer if they get reminders about when their patients are due for screenings.

Health care providers can help more of their patients get screened for cancer if they get reminders about when their patients are due for screenings. A study showed this practice increased screening and testing by more than 7%.

Provider reminders can be done in several ways—

  • Manual reminders: Staff can use stickers or notations on the medical charts of patients who are due for a cancer screening.
  • Electronic reminders: Some electronic health record systems can be set up to send screening alerts to providers.

How to Develop a Provider Reminder System

For detailed information, see the Provider Reminder Planning Guide.

  • Get buy-in from providers and other staff by including them in the planning and set-up process.
  • Create a process to ensure that—
    • Records are flagged properly.
    • Providers recommend appropriate screenings.
    • Screening tests are ordered.
    • Screening is completed or refused.
    • Refusal or results are documented.
  • Decide which records will be flagged by looking at—
    • The patient’s age, sex, and risk factors.
    • The patient’s date of last screening and upcoming appointments.
    • The type of test.
    • The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s recommendations for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening.

Monitor your efforts—

  • Develop a plan to evaluate your system regularly and make improvements as needed.
  • Make sure providers receive the reminders.
  • Make sure providers are making screening referrals or ordering tests.
  • If you make changes, write them down and retrain staff as needed.

Find a CDC-funded breast and cervical cancer screening or colorectal cancer control program in your area. These programs can partner with you and provide support and technical assistance.

Success Story
Photo of a doctor talking to a patient

Each day, staff members give doctors a list of the patients who have an appointment that day and the preventive care services they need, including cancer screening tests.