The use of telephone communication between nurse navigators and their patients
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Background: Hospitals and other health care providers frequently experience difficulties contacting patients and their carers who live remotely from the town where the health service is located. In 2016 Nurse Navigator positions were introduced into the health services by Queensland Health, to support and navigate the care of people with chronic and complex conditions. One hospital in Far North Queensland initiated an additional free telephone service to provide another means of communication for patients and carers with the NNs and for off-campus health professionals to obtain details about a patient utilising the service. Calls made between 7am and 10pm, seven days per week are answered by a nurse navigator.
Aim: To report utilisation of the service by navigated clients and remotely located clinicians compared to use of navigators' individual work numbers and direct health service numbers. We report the reason for calls to the free number and examine features of these calls.
Methods: Statistical analysis examined the call reason, duration of calls, setting from where calls originated and stream of calls. Interactions between the reasons for calls and the features of calls, such as contact method, were examined.
Results: The major reason for calls was clinical issues and the source of calls was primarily patients and carers. Clinical calls were longer in duration. Shorter calls were mainly non-clinical, made by a health professional. Setting for calls was not related to the reason. The most frequent number used was the individual mobile number of the NN, followed by the hospital landline. Although the free number was utilised by patients and carers, it was not the preferred option.
Conclusion: As patients and carers preferred to access their NN directly than via the 1800 number, further research should explore options best suited to this group of patients outside normal business hours.
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