Effectiveness of an ambulatory care telephone service in reducing drop-in visits and improving satisfaction with care

Med Care. 1982 Jul;20(7):739-48. doi: 10.1097/00005650-198207000-00009.


The purpose of this research was to determine whether a specialized telephone service could cut down on unscheduled visits to ambulatory care and improve satisfaction with care. Patients who were to receive care (N = 561) were assigned randomly to a specialized telephone service or a control group. They were measured with regard to satisfaction with care before being assigned and 6 months later. The number of scheduled and unscheduled visits also were monitored for a 1-year follow-up period. The telephone service, which provided a triage system for referrals as well as a source of central contact for scheduling or for complaints, helped to improve satisfaction and reduce the number of unscheduled visits within 6 months. Such a service also may have application in other problem areas in the delivery of quality ambulatory care.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / standards
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Telephone / statistics & numerical data*