RATIONALE, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to evaluate the relative effectiveness of electronic and postal reminders for increasing adherence to the quality assurance programme for the international normalized ratio (INR) point-of-care testing (POCT) device in primary care.
METHODS: All 213 family practices that use the Elective Laboratory of the Capital Region, Denmark, and regularly conduct INR POCT were randomly allocated into two similarly sized groups. During the 4-month intervention, these practices were sent either computer reminders (ComRem) or computer-generated postal reminders (Postal) if they did not perform a split test to check the quality of their INR POCT for each calendar month. The adherence of the practices was tracked during the subsequent 8 months subdivided into two 4-month periods both without intervention. Outcomes were measures of split test procedure adherence.
RESULTS: Both interventions were associated with an increase in adherence to the split test procedure - a factor 6.00 [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.46-7.72] and 8.22 [95% CI 5.87-11.52] for ComRem and Postal, respectively - but there is no evidence that one of the interventions was more effective than the other. In the ComRem group, the expected number of split tests (out of four) was 2.54 (95% CI 2.33-2.76) versus 2.44 (95% CI 2.24-2.65) in the Postal group, P = 0.14. There was a slight decrease in adherence over the two follow-ups, but neither intervention was better than the other in achieving a lasting improvement in adherence.
CONCLUSION: Computer reminders are as efficient as postal reminders in increasing adherence to a quality assurance programme for the INR POCT device in primary care.