Background: In October 2009, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (NYC DOHMH) Bureau of STD Control (BSTDC) implemented an automated test results retrieval system (ATRRS); before that date, patients returned to a clinic or called the NYC DOHMH Call Center for test results (clinic staff call patients requiring follow-up). The ATRRS is linked to the clinic electronic medical record (EMR), and a daily automated algorithm assesses gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, syphilis & Pap smear test results, and gonorrhea and chlamydia treatment. A summary message is assigned/updated per visit: (1) pending; (2) normal/negative; (3) need to call the NYC DOHMH Call Center; or (4) return to our clinic. Patients access their password-protected account via website or interactive voice response (IVR) system, available 24/7.
Methods: We analyzed DOHMH Call Center data for calls received from BSTDC patients requesting test results, for the time period before, and after implementing the ATRRS. We reviewed EMR data for each patient’s results retrieval status and method (website versus IVR).
Results: The proportion of patients who retrieved their results was 48% (47,566/99,429) in the year before, and 54% (58,339/107,284) in the year after implementation. Since implementation, the proportion of patients retrieving their messages via website increased from 55% (29,911/54,040) in 2010 to 59% (19,990/33,970) in 2012, p<0.0001. The monthly average number of calls to the call center decreased from 7,231 before, to 780 after implementation. Incoming calls on average last 3.4 minutes.
Conclusions: Implementation of an automated results retrieval system vastly reduced the number of calls to our Call Center while maintaining the proportion of patients who received their test results; resulting in a potential savings of 366 employee hours per month that were previously spent receiving calls. The proportion of patients using the website to retrieve their test result messages has significantly increased.