The retina hotline: Eighteen-month results from a telephone hotline for patients with retinal diseases

Robert P. Finger, Gabriele Porz, Monika Fleckenstein, Peter Charbel Issa, Werner Lechtenfeld, Daniela Brohlburg, Hendrik P.N. Scholl, Frank G. Holz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to establish and evaluate a nationwide telephone counseling for patients with retinal diseases hotline in Germany against the background of an increasing demand for information and counseling in the field of retina services as a result of current demographic trends. Methods: The telephone Retina Hotline was installed, advertised, and run for 1.5 years at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Bonn, and open to callers from the whole of Germany. The hotline was staffed by ophthalmologists. Calls were handled according to standard flow charts and counsel given adhered to a list of standardized answers as appropriate in the individual case. All calls were documented in an online database, which was subsequently analyzed and used for evaluation. Results: A total of 1,384 calls were documented leading to an average of 7.6 calls per afternoon. The average length of calls was 8.5 minutes. The majority of callers were female patients (63%) who had age-related macular degeneration. Only 17% of callers were relatives. Most callers (59%) were >60 years of age. The majority of questions were related to therapeutic options for dry or neovascular age-related macular degeneration as well as various forms of retinitis pigmentosa (45%). Conclusion: A service such as the Retina Hotline seems necessary and well justified against the background of need for information and support documented. However, on the basis of an adequate computer program and a standard catalog of answers or flow charts, it may not need to be staffed by ophthalmologists, but well-trained nonmedical staff may be sufficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-639
Number of pages5
JournalRetina
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Keywords

  • Agerelated macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Health services evaluation
  • Medical retina
  • Medical triage
  • Psychosocial support
  • Self-reported retinal disease
  • Telephone hotline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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