Automated monitoring of outcomes: application to treatment of drug abuse.
This paper suggests a new approach for lowering follow-up costs, improving the delivery of health care, and monitoring treatment outcomes. An automated telephone follow-up system that calls, identifies, and interviews clients is an alternative method for monitoring patients that may be both reliable and cost-effective. To test the viability of such a system, the authors monitored a patient population that has historically been shown to be difficult to follow: recovering drug users and alcoholics. Forty-two subjects were asked to call the computer and complete interviews on a weekly basis for five months. Clients answered 25 recorded questions by pressing the keys on their telephone pads. The computer automatically analyzed the clients' answers and estimated a probability of relapse for each client. In addition, the computer automatically called subjects who failed to complete interviews at the scheduled times. The study showed that self-reported data collected by a computer are as reliable as data obtained through a written questionnaire and that clients are more willing to respond to computer interviews than to mailed written questionnaires. This study also provides preliminary data on the predictive ability of a questionnaire for predicting relapse.
Alemi, F; Stephens, R; Parran, T; Llorens, S; Bhatt, P; Ghadiri, A; Eisenstein, E
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