BACKGROUND: Computer reminders are increasingly being applied in efforts to improve quality and patient safety. However, research is still needed to establish the effectiveness of different kinds of reminders in various settings. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of computer reminders for improving adherence to a quality assessment scheme for point-of-care testing in general practice.
METHOD: The study was conducted as a randomized controlled crossover trial among general practices in the Capital Region of Denmark. The intervention consisted of sending computer reminders (ComRem) to practices not adhering to the guideline recommendations of split testing for hemoglobin and glucose. Practices were randomly allocated into two groups. During the first follow-up period, one of the groups received the ComRem intervention together with the general implementation activities (GIA), while the other group only received the GIA. For the second follow-up period, the intervention was switched between the two groups. Outcomes were measured as split test procedure adherence.
RESULTS: A total of 142 practices were randomly allocated to the early intervention group and 144 practices to the late intervention group (the control group in the first follow-up period). In the first intervention period, the mean number of split tests performed in the group receiving ComRem group increased from 1.22 to 3.76 (out of eight possible tests) while the mean number of split tests increased from 1.11 to 2.35 in the group targeted by GIA only (p = 0.0059). After the crossover, a similar effect of reminders was observed. Furthermore, the developments in outcome measures over time showed a strong effect of computer reminders beyond the intervention periods.
CONCLUSION: There was a significant effect of computer reminders on adherence to the quality assessment scheme for point-of-care testing. Thus, computer reminders seem to be useful for supporting the implementation of relatively simple procedures for quality and safety.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov: http://NCT01152177.