Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Automated calls help patients taking blood thinners

From CBC News:
Hearing a human say blood-thinner doses are correct may be reassuring, but an automated system can be equally effective for some, a new study suggests.

In Monday's online issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers concluded that an automated voice response system reduced the workload by 33 per cent and was almost as effective as a phone call from a human.

About five per cent of seniors take oral anticoagulants such as warfarin for blood clotting disorders. Patients need to take regular blood tests to make sure they're taking the right dose — too little doesn't work, and too much can cause serious bleeding problems including a deadly form of stroke.

The dose has to be individualized and monitored closely, said study author Dr. Alan Forster, a patient safety expert with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa.

The study was designed to test whether computer algorithms can predict the right dose better than a human.

"The interactive voice response system was effective in communicating complex information as 77.8 per cent of messages were successfully delivered and did not require input from staff," Forster and his coauthors wrote. ...more

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