Using Texting to Improve STD Follow-Up with Clients

Summary

Impact Statement: 
Communicable disease (CD) follow-up: Staff let their fingers do the walking using social media to significantly improve the timeliness and effectiveness of client contact and case completion procedures for CD clients.
Summary: 

The original purpose of Gallatin County's (Montana) quality improvement (QI) initiative was to decrease the number of sexually transmitted disease (STD) cases that were not contacted for an interview. Upon further analysis of the communicable disease (CD) follow-up procedure, the team found that only 10 out of 208 STD cases had not been contacted for an interview last year. The QI team, consisting of the CD Program manager, the CD public health nurse (PHN), the immunization nurse, and AmeriCorps VISTA, decided to switch the focus of this project to decreasing the time spent contacting and completing case interviews.

After analyzing the current process and input from PHNs in nearby health departments, the team decided that the best way to increase the efficiency of this process was to incorporate texting into the follow-up procedure. The team decided to study chlamydia cases only, in order to keep data collection manageable. The team randomized the control and intervention groups (every other positive case received was sent a text as part of the follow-up procedure) and collected data over the span of 3 months.

From the data collected, it was determined that cases in the intervention group were being completed more quickly than those in the control group. Therefore, the team decided to change the policy to include texting for all reportable diseases requiring follow-up contact with patients.

Organization that conducted the QI initiative: 
Gallatin City-County Health Department
Citation: 

Tassaro, S. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. Using Texting to Improve STD Follow-Up with Clients. Fri, 06/12/2015 - 12:39. Available at https://www.phqix.org/content/using-texting-improve-std-follow-clients. Accessed February 25, 2018.

Submission Status: 
Completed
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Comments

Submitted by Torney Smith on

Great story. Have you employeed text messaging into any other programs?  We are experimenting with it for WIC appointment reminders and HIV follow ups.

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Submitted by stassaro on

Hi Torney,

Our Communicable Disease program also uses texting for GI illnesses and pertussis. We also use it for our Ryan White clients, but only if we have permission to text them.

Thanks for checking out our QI project!

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Stefanie Tassaro
Accreditation Coordinator/QI Specialist
Gallatin City-County Health Department
stefanie.tassaro@gallatin.mt.gov

Submitted by baberg0124 on

Is there a particular texting program you are utilizing?  We are currently brainstorming possible options and appreciate any insight!  Thank you.

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Bethany Bjorklund RN, BSN

Submitted by stassaro on

Hi Bethany!

Thank you for your question. We do not use a specific texting program, rather we invested in a smart phone for our CD/IZ program. Our nurses use this phone to text clients and help facilitate contact investigation (our landline phones usually show up as "unknown" which may have been why people were hestitant to answer).

I hope this helps and please don't hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.

Thanks!

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Stefanie Tassaro
Accreditation Coordinator/QI Specialist
Gallatin City-County Health Department
stefanie.tassaro@gallatin.mt.gov