Patient-reported impact of after-hours house-call services on the utilization of emergency department services in Australia
Embargoed until: 2018-05-01
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Objectives. This paper explores, from the patients’ perspective, the likely impact of the Australian after-hours house-call (AHHC) medical services on emergency department (ED) presentations. This has become imperative given the significant cost difference between patient presentations to either the AHHC or ED and their practical implications for health care funding. Design, setting and participants. A cross-sectional, self-reported survey of all 10 838 patients in Australia known to have patronized AHHC services over the last week of January 2016. Main outcome measure. The study used a validated, self-completion questionnaire, dispatched through a mixture of online and postal methods. Results. A total of 1228 questionnaires were returned, of which 1211 included all relevant sections of the survey (11.2% response rate). Four hundred and eighty-six patients (40.1%) indicated that they would have gone to the ED on the same day or night of their illness had the AHHC not been available, with the elderly (≥65) and children (<16) accounting for nearly two-thirds of these (64.6%). Following their AHHC consultations, 103 (8.5%) patients eventually attended the ED, meaning that the service prevented 383 patients from attending the ED, a decrease of 78.8%. Stratification based on location showed that this impact was seen across all states and territories in Australia where AHHC services exist, ranging from a reduction of 73.9% in Western Australia to 85.0% in Tasmania. Similarly, the impact cuts across all patient demographics, including age ranges, gender and social divides. Conclusions. Based on our respondents’ reports, AHHC services appear to be associated with a reduction in ED visits in Australia, with the impact cutting across all regions and patient demographics.
Copyright 2017 Oxford University Press. This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Family Practice following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version, Patient-reported impact of after-hours house-call services on the utilization of emergency department services in Australia, Family Practice, 2017 is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/fampra/cmx038.
This publication has been entered into Griffith Research Online as an Advanced Online Version.
Primary Health Care