Cross-sectional analysis of patient phone calls to an inflammatory bowel disease clinic
Background Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) require close follow up and frequently utilize healthcare services. We aimed to identify the main reasons that prompted patient calls to gastroenterology providers and further characterize the "frequent callers".
Methods This retrospective cross-sectional study included all phone calls registered in medical records of IBD patients during 2012. Predictive variables included demographics, psychiatric history, IBD phenotype, disease complications and medical therapies. Primary outcome was the reason for call (symptoms, medication refill, procedures and appointment issues). Secondary outcome was the frequency of changes in management prompted by the call.
Results 209 patients participated in 526 calls. The mean number of calls per patient was 2.5 (range 0-27); 49 (23.4%) patients met the criterion of "frequent caller". Frequent callers made or received 75.9% of all calls. Crohn's disease, anxiety, extra-intestinal manifestations and high sedimentation rate were significantly associated with higher call volume. 85.7% of frequent callers had at least one call that prompted a therapeutic intervention, compared to 18.9% of non-frequent callers (P<0.001). The most common interventions were ordering laboratory or imaging studies (15.4%), dose adjustments (12.1%), changes in medication class (8.4%), and expediting clinic visits (8.4%).
Conclusion Most phone calls originated from a minority of patients. Repeated calling by the same patient and new onset of gastrointestinal (GI) and non-GI symptoms were important factors predicting the order of diagnostic modalities or therapeutic changes in care. Triaging calls to IBD healthcare providers for patients more likely to require a change in management may improve healthcare delivery.
Keywords Inflammatory bowel disease, phone calls, high utilization, quality improvement
Ann Gastroenterol 2015; 28 (3): 355-363