Automated Postdischarge Trauma Patient Call Program

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Abstract

Postdischarge phone calls have been shown to improve communications between patients and health care providers, potentially reducing readmission rates, medication errors, and emergency department (ED) visits. Given the complexity of social and medical issues associated with trauma, we studied the utility of an automated phone call system as a method of identifying gaps in trauma care. The Trauma Program and the Health Management and Education Department at a Level 1 academic trauma center engaged in a collaborative quality improvement effort using the CipherHealth LLC platform to provide automated phone calls to trauma patients 2–3 days after discharge. Automated questions to patients focused upon symptoms, equipment and medications, discharge instruction comprehension, and follow-up needs. When indicated, the automated system sent an alert and prompted the timely return phone call to the patient from a registered nurse with the intent of addressing the specified issue. During the 4-month study period, 1,382 patients were discharged from the trauma service. Three hundred thirty-two calls were attempted, with 186 completed. Twenty-seven percent of the completed calls prompted a nurse to make a personalized callback to the patient. Most calls were for symptoms (26%), follow-up appointments (22%), medication issues (21%), and discharge instruction clarification (15%). Just over 25% of trauma patients requested further clarification after discharge from the hospital. The results of this pilot indicate that further follow-up is warranted to determine whether outpatient follow-up calls in the trauma population have any impact upon mitigating complications and quality measures such as reduced ED visits, readmission, and patient safety and satisfaction.

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