Recall and reminder

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Practices should have a process for following up tests and results.


A recall occurs when it is crucial for a patient to attend the practice, usually in the instance of an abnormal test result or something clinically significant in pathology or diagnostic imaging. It is a judgement made by the doctor that something is clinically important for that patient in the context of their health care.


A reminder is an offer to provide patients with systematic preventative care, usually for immunisations, diabetes, cervical screening. Reminders are used as preventive activities for patients and do not have to be followed up if the patient does not attend the practice. The reminder should be noted in the clinical record.

Computerised recall and reminder​

Most GP clinical software products have a built in recall system of some kind.

Using a recall system can seem complex. Here are a few steps you can take to start the process:

  • work out the resources currently spent on posting out letters and cards for recalls and reminders.
  • identify the cohorts who would benefit the most from recalls and reminders, e.g. children requiring immunisations.
  • learn about the recall and reminder feature in the clinical software.

Improving your recall and reminder process

Language matters. Think about the wording of the reminder and how patients might interpret it. This blog post is a good reminder of the importance of language:

The computer software won't meet all your needs, because a lot of the process relies on what's happening outside of the computer. Regularly review how your process is working and look for ways to improve. Key measurements that you should be keeping track of are:

  • How many recalls were acted upon?
  • How many are more than 6 months old?
  • How many times did the GP have to think about the action vs how many were automatic? (When a GP is thinking about a recall then they are probably wasting their time. The process should be refined so that only clear and obvious information is marked for a recall or reminder.)

Also look for situations where nothing has been flagged. For example: subsequent to a vasectomy, has sperm activation been checked? If not, it should be marked as a reminder for when the patient next comes in.

Fact sheets​​​​​​

How to set reminders and recalls:

How to use SMS reminders: