Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Improving the quality of telephone-delivered health care: a national quality improvement transformation initiative.

LaVela SL, Gering J, Schectman G, Locatelli SM, Weaver FM, Davies M. Improving the quality of telephone-delivered health care: a national quality improvement transformation initiative. Family Practice. 2013 Oct 1; 30(5):533-40.

Related HSR&D Project(s)

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: Many Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care (PC) patients prefer telephone-delivered care to other health care delivery modalities. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate PC patients' telephone experiences and outcomes before and after a national telephone transformation quality improvement (QI) collaborative. METHODS: Cross-sectional surveys were conducted pre- and post-collaborative. We used bivariate analyses to assess differences in pre/post outcomes and multivariate regression to identify variables associated with patients' perceptions of poor quality care. RESULTS: Patients from 13 VA facilities participated (n = 730; pre-intervention = 314, post-intervention = 416); most of them were males (90%) with a mean age of 62 years. After the collaborative (versus pre-collaborative), few experienced transfers (52% versus 62%, P = 0.0006) and most reported timely call answer (88% versus 80%, P = 0.003). Improvements in staff understanding why patients were calling and providing needed medical information were also found. There were measurable improvements in patient satisfaction (87% versus 82% very/mostly satisfied, P = 0.04) and perceived quality of telephone care (85% versus 78% excellent/good quality, P = 0.01) post- collaborative. The proportion of veterans who reported delayed care due to telephone access issues decreased from 41% to 15% after the collaborative, P < 0.0001. Perceptions of poor quality care were higher when calls were for urgent care needs did not result in receipt of needed information and included a transfer or untimely answer. CONCLUSIONS: The QI collaborative led to improvements in timeliness of answering calls, patient satisfaction and perceptions of high-quality telephone care and fewer reports of health care delays. Barriers to optimal telephone care 'quality' include untimely answer, transfers, non-receipt of needed information and urgent care needs.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.