Background: Many patients encounter problems in the first weeks after discharge from hospital. Telephone follow-up (TFU) is reputed to be a good tool for providing medical advice, managing symptoms, identifying complications and giving reassurance after discharge. Therefore, we aimed to study whether tight TFU would increase patient satisfaction, improve compliance and reduce re-hospitalization rate.
Methods: The study population included 400 patients, hospitalized in an Internal Medicine Department, randomly divided into two groups; TFU and control. TFU took place one week and one month after discharge. Three months later, members of both groups were contacted by telephone.
Results: Satisfaction was increased in the TFU group compared with control group by 6-12% in most fields. Notably, 87% of patients in the TFU group indicated that earlier telephone contact increased their satisfaction. In addition, 78.2% of the patients in the control group reported that they performed the tests that were recommended at discharge and 86.5% reported that they received explanations regarding their medications. In the TFU group, this percentage was increased significantly to 86.9% (P=0.02) and 96.7% (P<0.0001), respectively. As to treatment results, 93% of the patients in the TFU group as compared to 84% in the control group reported improvement in their symptoms. A non-significant trend towards fewer readmission was observed in the TFU group (26% vs. 35% P=0.062).
Conclusions: TFU can improve medical treatment by increasing satisfaction and compliance. A trend towards decreased readmission rates was observed, which may lead to a reduction in the burden on the medical system.