J Community Health. 2022 Nov 5. doi: 10.1007/s10900-022-01164-7. Online ahead of print.
The goals of this study were to determine the completion rates of patient order forms at the Cooper Rowan Clinic, a student-run free clinic, and to implement the use of a post-encounter phone call to improve completion rates, preventive medicine, and medical student clinical involvement. 151 patients completed a pre-intervention questionnaire before their visit. The questionnaire collected information regarding successfully completed order forms. First-year students were trained to perform phone calls and called their patients for five months. 205 patients then completed a post-intervention questionnaire. Dependent variables included completion rates for laboratory studies, specialty referrals, imaging studies and miscellaneous tests. Chi-squared tests were performed. Although the completion rates for laboratory testing (pre = 73.7% vs post = 81.1%), referrals (pre = 50.0% vs post = 65.1%) and imaging studies (pre = 60.9% vs post = 71.7%) increased, the results were not statistically significant. The completion rate of miscellaneous testing (pre = 41.7% vs post = 100.0%) increased following the implementation and was statistically significant. When patients were stratified to those who received a phone call, completion rates of referrals (73.0%), laboratory testing (86.1%), imaging studies (80.5%), and miscellaneous studies (100.0%) substantially increased. Although not statistically significant except for miscellaneous studies, there was an overall increase in completion in all categories. Further evidence to suggest that phone calls improved order completion was the substantial increase in completion rates in patients who received a call. The implementation improves completion of orders which could enhance preventive measures within the clinic. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for earlier student clinical exposure through direct patient contact.