Examining the impact of a symptom assessment application on patient-physician interaction among self-referred walk-in patients in the emergency department (AKUSYM): study protocol for a multi-center, randomized controlled, parallel-group superiority trial

Trials. 2022 Sep 20;23(1):791. doi: 10.1186/s13063-022-06688-w.


Background: Due to the increasing use of online health information, symptom checkers have been developed to provide an individualized assessment of health complaints and provide potential diagnoses and an urgency estimation. It is assumed that they support patient empowerment and have a positive impact on patient-physician interaction and satisfaction with care. Particularly in the emergency department (ED), symptom checkers could be integrated to bridge waiting times in the ED, and patients as well as physicians could take advantage of potential positive effects. Our study therefore aims to assess the impact of symptom assessment application (SAA) usage compared to no SAA usage on the patient-physician interaction in self-referred walk-in patients in the ED population.

Methods: In this multi-center, 1:1 randomized, controlled, parallel-group superiority trial, 440 self-referred adult walk-in patients with a non-urgent triage category will be recruited in three EDs in Berlin. Eligible participants in the intervention group will use a SAA directly after initial triage. The control group receives standard care without using a SAA. The primary endpoint is patients' satisfaction with the patient-physician interaction assessed by the Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire.

Discussion: The results of this trial could influence the implementation of SAA into acute care to improve the satisfaction with the patient-physician interaction.

Trial registration: German Clinical Trials Registry DRKS00028598 . Registered on 25.03.2022.

Keywords: Clinical decision support; Consumer health IT; Emergency medicine; Online health information; Patient-physician interaction; Randomized controlled trial; Symptom assessment application; Symptom checker.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Equivalence Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physicians*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Symptom Assessment
  • Triage