Magazine article Drug Topics

A Little TLC

Magazine article Drug Topics

A Little TLC

Article excerpt

A computer-controlled telephone interview system has been developed by a Massachusetts company to help health-care providers monitor patient status, combat the problem of medication noncompliance, and reduce costs.

The automated Telephone-Linked Care (TLC) System uses intelligent voice response (IVR) to keep tabs on patients and to shift the delivery of routine services away from the doctor's office, according to InfoMedics Inc., Woburn, Mass. Originally developed at Boston University Medical Center, TLC is accessed by the patient via a toll-free telephone number. The system asks clinically appropriate questions, checks the patient's keypad entries and spoken responses, and records the information.

TLC can also give patients information about their condition and remind them of when and how to take their medications. In most cases, patients call in once a week, and the conversations last between three and five minutes.

TLC is an inexpensive way to gather information from patients about medication compliance, any side effects, and general status, said Michael Euele, v.p.-marketing and sales. The collected data are forwarded to the provider by fax, e-mail, or regular mail. "It costs about $75 a year per patient, which is about the cost of one office visit to the doctor. Our primary market is health plans, but we are talking with a large retail drugstore chain about incorporating [TLC] as part of its strategy to get in the loop with managed care organizations."

Retail pharmacies could employ TLC as a way to introduce some technology into their operations and sell the idea of patient monitoring to managed care organizations, said Euele. …

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