Telephone consultation and triage
Citation: Bunn F, Byrne G, Kendall S. Telephone consultation and triage: effects on health care use and patient satisfaction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004;3:CD004180.
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare services and resources. Existing research on strategies that might ease this, such as telephone consultation and triage services, might provide useful information for policy makers.
In this Cochrane review, the authors searched for comparative effectiveness studies of telephone consultation or triage in a general healthcare setting. They did not restrict their searches by date, type or language of publication and did the most recent searches in July 2007 (when no new studies were found to add to those in the existing review). They included five randomized trials, one controlled clinical trial and three interrupted time series studies.
What works: In the studies available at the time of the review, telephone consultation and triage appeared to decrease the number of immediate visits to doctors and did not appear to increase hospital visits.
In the studies available at the time of the review, patients reported equivalent levels of satisfaction with telephone consultations as with face-to-face appointments.
What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.
What’s uncertain: In the studies available at the time of the review, it was uncertain whether the introduction of telephone consultations simply delayed visits to a later time.
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