The implementation of a call-back system reduces the doctor’s workload, and improves accessibility by telephone in general practice
Authors: de Groot, R.A.; de Haan, J.; Bosveld, H.E.; Nijland, A.; Meyboom-de Jong, B.
Source: Family Practice, Volume 19, Number 5, 1 October 2002 , pp. 516-519(4)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:Background. In a general practice in The Netherlands, the demand for direct telephone consultation with the doctor became extreme, which resulted in poorly managed consultations, and poor telephone access due to busy lines. A call-back telephone appointment system was therefore introduced: all calls are answered and, when possible, managed by the practice assistant. If the assistant feels incapable, or if the patient prefers to speak to the doctor, a telephone appointment is scheduled, at which time the doctor returns the patient’s call.
Objective. Our aim was to evaluate the effects of a call-back telephone appointment system on doctors’ workload and patients’ telephone access to doctors.
Methods. Telephone consultation data over 10 weeks were selected before and after the introduction of the call-back telephone appointment system. The outcomes measured were: number and duration of telephone calls to doctors, the reason for each call and how often telephone lines were engaged during the specified telephone hour.
Results. The number of calls requiring the doctor’s attention was reduced by 59% and total time spent on the telephone by the GPs was reduced by 39%. This reduction is explained by a change in the reasons for calling. Telephone accessibility improved, as busy telephone lines were no longer an issue.
Conclusion. The call-back telephone appointment system is superior to the previously used open access telephone hour.
Document Type: Original Article
Affiliations: Department of Family Practice, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 4, 9713 AW Groningen, The Netherlands.
Publication date: 1 October 2002
- Family Practice is an international journal aimed at practitioners, teachers and researchers in the fields of family medicine, general practice and primary care in both developed and developing countries.