Automated telephone follow-up programs after hospital discharge: Do older adults engage with these programs?

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2022 Oct;70(10):2980-2987. doi: 10.1111/jgs.17939. Epub 2022 Jun 29.


Background: Health systems have developed automated telephone call programs to screen and triage patients' post-hospital discharge issues and concerns. The aims of our study were to determine whether and how older adults engage with automated post-hospital discharge telephone programs and to describe the prevalence of patient-reported post-discharge issues.

Methods: We identified all telephone calls made by an urban academic medical center as part of a post-hospital discharge program between May 1, 2018 and April 30, 2019. The program used automated telephone outreach to patients or their caregivers that included 11 distinct steps 3 days post-discharge. All adults discharged home from the hospital, were included, and we categorized patients into ≤64 years, 65-84 years, and ≥85 years age groups. We then compared call reach rate, completeness of 11-step calls and patient-reported issues between age groups.

Results: Eighteen thousand and seventy six patients were included. More patients 65-84 years old were reached compared to patients ≤64 years old (84.3% vs. 78.9%, AME 5.52%; 95%CI: 3.58%-7.45%). Completion rates of automated calls for those ≥85 years old were also high. Patients ≥85 years old were more likely to have questions about their follow-up plans and need assistance scheduling appointments compared to those ≤64 years old (19.0% vs. 11.9%, AME 7.0% (95%CI: 2.7%-11.3%).

Conclusion: Post-hospital automated telephone calls are feasible and effective at reaching older adults. Future work should focus on improving discharge communication to ensure older adults are aware of their follow-up plan and appointments.

Keywords: health services delivery; telemedicine; transitional care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuity of Patient Care*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Telephone