Telephone follow-up by primary care for patients discharged from hospital

Added April 20, 2020

Citation: Crocker JB, Crocker JT, Greenwald J. Telephone follow-up as a primary care intervention for post discharge outcomes improvement: a systematic review. American Journal of Medicine 2012; 125(9): 915-21

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a great strain on healthcare services. Telephone follow up after discharge from hospital might be used to try to reduce post-discharge emergency department visits and hospital readmissions, and to improve outcomes for patients.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research evaluating the impact of telephone follow-up by people based in primary care on hospital readmissions and emergency department visits after adult patients had been discharged from hospital. They did their search in December 2011. They included 3 randomized trials (1765 participants), all of whom had been discharged from general medicine inpatient units at academic teaching hospitals.

What was found: Post discharge primary care contact was improved as a result of telephone follow up.

None of the studies showed a significant reduction in hospital readmissions or emergency department visits following primary care-based telephone follow up.

One study indicated that patients at higher risk of readmission would benefit more from telephone follow up.

What’s uncertain: The core components of an ideal telephone follow-up intervention have not been standardized.


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