Postdischarge telephone follow-up plays an integral part in transitional care efforts in many regions. We systematically reviewed the literature to evaluate the evidence regarding the impact of primary care–based telephone follow-up on postdischarge emergency department visits and hospital readmissions.
We performed an electronic database search for relevant telephone follow-up studies originating in adult primary care settings.
Only 3 studies (N=1765) met entry criteria for this review. None of the studies demonstrated evidence of reduced admissions or emergency department visits from primary care–based telephone follow-ups. All 3 studies reported improved primary care office contact as a result of telephone follow-up intervention.
Despite the growing use of primary care-based telephone follow-up in the postdischarge period,there are no high-quality studies demonstrating its benefit. However,its positive impact on patient engagement holds potentially meaningful implications. In light of recent national health care legislation,the primary care field is ripe for high-quality studies to evaluate the effectiveness of telephone follow-up for patients in the postdischarge period. Particular areas of research focus are discussed.