Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/120254
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Type: Journal article
Title: Delivering healthcare at a distance: exploring the organisation of calls to a health helpline
Author: Lopriore, S.
Le Couteur, A.
Ekberg, S.
Ekberg, K.
Citation: International Journal of Medical Informatics, 2017; 104:45-55
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 1386-5056
1872-8243
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Stefanie Lopriore, Amanda LeCouteur, Stuart Ekberg, Katie Ekberg
Abstract: Background: Health helplines are integral to contemporary healthcare, offering fast, low-cost, and geographically unrestricted access to health information and advice. Although some health helplines offer support services (e.g., counselling), many function in ways that are similar to physically co-present (i.e., face-to-face) primary care consultations. However, due to the lack of physical presence, there are differences in the way health consultations are routinely managed on the telephone. This article explores some ways in which healthcare is managed at a distance, on a telephone helpline. Methods: Data are 196 recorded calls from the helpline, Healthdirect Australia. Using conversation analysis, this paper compares the delivery of healthcare over the telephone with what is known about physically co-present primary care consultations. Results: Through an exploration of the overall structure of these helpline calls, we show how Healthdirect Australia calls are organised in terms of eight distinct phases: call opening, establishment of reason-for-calling, check of caller safety, creation of a confidential patient file, medical information-gathering, health advice, caller survey questions, and call closing. We demonstrate how interactants organise their talk around these phases, with a particular focus on the shift between mandated administrative tasks and traditional medical tasks. Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest that there are systematic differences between the overall structure of health helplines and physically co-present primary care consultations. We demonstrate that the delivery of health information and advice via helplines can be challenging, but that service can be enhanced through continued efforts to inform understanding about how medical encounters routinely unfold in over-the-phone environments.
Keywords: Health communication; telehealth; helplines; qualitative
Rights: © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
RMID: 0030071576
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2017.05.001
Appears in Collections:Psychology publications

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