INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a rapid shift towards telephone consultations (TC) in the out-patient clinic setting with little knowledge of the consequences. The aims of this study were to evaluate patient-centred experiences with TC, to describe patterns in clinical outcomes from TC and to pinpoint benefits and drawbacks associated with this type of consultations.
METHODS: This mixed methods study combined an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. A quantitative, retrospective observational study was conducted employing data from all 248 patients who received TC at an out-patient cardiology clinic during April 2020 with a one-month follow-up. Semi-structured interviews were conducted; Ten eligible patients were recruited from the outpatient clinic by purposive sampling.
RESULTS: Within the follow-up period, no patients died or were acutely hospitalised. Approximately one in every four patients was transferred to their general practitioner, while the remaining three-quarter of the patients had a new examination or a new consultation planned. The cardiologist failed to establish contact with more than a fifth of the patients, often due to missing phone numbers. Ten patients were interviewed. Five themes emerged from the interviews: 1) Knowing an estimated time of the consultation is essential for patient satisfaction, 2) TC are well perceived when individually adapted, 3) TC can be a barrier to patient questions, 4) Video consultations should only be offered to patients who request it, and 5) Prescriptions or instructions made via TC do not cause uncertainty in patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The TC program was overall safe and the patients felt comfortable. Crucial issues include precise time planning, the patient's availability on the phone and a correct phone number. Patients stressed that TC are unsuitable when addressing sensitive topics. A proposed visitation tool is presented.
|Publication status||Published - 19 Oct 2022|
- Referral and Consultation
- Ambulatory Care Facilities