Use of Video in Telephone Triage in Out-of-Hours Primary Care: Register-Based Study

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Abstract

Background: Out-of-hours primary care (OOH-PC) is challenging due to high workloads, workforce shortages, and long waiting and transportation times for patients. Use of video enables triage professionals to visually assess patients, potentially ending more contacts in a telephone triage contact instead of referring patients to more resource-demanding clinic consultations or home visits. Thus, video use may help reduce use of health care resources in OOH-PC. Objective: This study aimed to investigate video use in telephone triage contacts to OOH-PC in Denmark by studying rate of use and potential associations between video use and patient- and contact-related characteristics and between video use and triage outcomes and follow-up contacts. We hypothesized that video use could serve to reduce use of health care resources in OOH-PC. Methods: This register-based study included all telephone triage contacts to OOH-PC in 4 of the 5 Danish regions from March 15, 2020, to December 1, 2021. We linked data from the OOH-PC electronic registration systems to national registers and identified telephone triage contacts with video use (video contact) and without video use (telephone contact). Calculating crude incidence rate ratios and adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRRs), we investigated the association between patient- and contact-related characteristics and video contacts and measured the frequency of different triage outcomes and follow-up contacts after video contact compared to telephone contact. Results: Of 2,900,566 identified telephone triage contacts to OOH-PC, 9.5% (n=275,203) were conducted as video contacts. The frequency of video contact was unevenly distributed across patient- and contact-related characteristics; it was used more often for employed young patients without comorbidities who contacted OOH-PC more than 4 hours before the opening hours of daytime general practice. Compared to telephone contacts, notably more video contacts ended with advice and self-care (aIRR 1.21, 95% CI 1.21-1.21) and no follow-up contact (aIRR 1.08, 95% CI 1.08-1.09). Conclusions: This study supports our hypothesis that video contacts could reduce use of health care resources in OOH-PC. Video use lowered the frequency of referrals to a clinic consultation or a home visit and also lowered the frequency of follow-up contacts. However, the results could be biased due to confounding by indication, reflecting that triage GPs use video for a specific set of reasons for encounters.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummere47039
TidsskriftJMIR Medical Informatics
Vol/bind12
ISSN2291-9694
DOI
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2024

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