Background: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) require long term follow up. However, many patients attending routine clinic appointments are in remission and require only verbal assessment of their condition. It was noted that the nurse led IBD clinics were often overbooked and access to appointments when required was difficult.
Telephone reviews for those with Coeliac disease were already being carried out successfully and it was felt that this may also be a suitable alternative to traditional face to face clinic appointments for patients with stable IBD.
Methods: Over a three month period 50 patients scheduled to attend the nurse-led IBD clinic were invited to receive a telephone review rather than face to face consultation. Blood request forms were sent to patients along with the appointment letter notifying them of the time and telephone number they would be contacted on. They were asked to have the blood tests done 1–2 weeks prior to their review.
Following the 3 month trial period all patients who had been invited to participate in the telephone clinic were sent a questionnaire to evaluate their satisfaction with the telephone reviews.
Results: Of the 50 patients invited to have a telephone review, two had requested to be seen in clinic, of the remaining patients the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) had been unable to contact 3 patients. Two had normal blood results and returned answer phone messages to notify the CNS that they were symptomatically well.
32 questionnaires were returned (64%). There was a fairly even spread of patients in terms of duration of the disease with 16 having IBD for <10 years and 17 patients >10 years. Male and female ratio was also even with 16 male and 14 female (2 had not answered). Two patients who returned the questionnaire had not completed all sections as they had requested to be seen in clinic.
Of the 30/32 patients who had received a telephone review general satisfaction was high and the majority would be happy to continue with this method of follow-up. 26 (87%) were happy to continue telephone reviews, 1 (3%) was undecided and 3 (10%) preferred to come in to clinic.
In an overall rating for the telephone review 1–10 (1 being very poor) 24 (80%) rated it as 8 or above.
Conclusions: The telephone reviews were well received by patients and offer an acceptable alternative to the traditional clinic follow up appointments for those with stable IBD. The level of satisfaction with all aspects of the telephone review was high. Offering telephone reviews meets the recommendations of the IBD Standards in terms of providing choice to patients and maintaining patient-centred care.