Inadequate follow-up of positive sexually transmitted infection (STI) test results is a gap in health care quality that contributes to the epidemic of STIs in adolescent women. The goal of this study was to improve our ability to contact adolescent women with positive STI test results after an emergency department visit.
We conducted an interventional quality improvement project at a pediatric emergency department. Phase 1 included plan-do-study-act cycles to test interventions such as provider education and system changes. Phase 2 was a planned experiment studying 2 interventions (study cell phone and patient activation card), using a 2 × 2 factorial design with 1 background variable and 2 replications. Outcomes were: (1) the proportion of women aged 14 to 21 years with STI testing whose confidential telephone number was documented in the electronic medical record; (2) the proportion of STI positive women successfully contacted within 7 days.
Phase 1 interventions increased the proportion of records with a confidential number from 24% to 58% and the proportion contacted from 45% to 65%, and decreased loss to follow-up from 40% to 24%. In phase 2, the proportion contacted decreased after the electronic medical record system changed and recording of the confidential number decreased. Study interventions (patient activation card and study cell phone) had a synergistic effect on successful contact, especially when confidential numbers were less reliably documented.
Feasible and sustainable interventions such as improved documentation of a confidential number worked synergistically to increase our ability to successfully contact adolescent women with their STI test results.