SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Telephone

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Thousands of lives are lost every year in developing countries for failing to detect epidemics early because of the lack of real-time disease surveillance data. We present results from a large-scale deployment of a telephone triage service as a basis for dengue forecasting in Pakistan. Our system uses statistical analysis of dengue-related phone calls to accurately forecast suspected dengue cases 2 to 3 weeks ahead of time at a subcity level (correlation of up to 0.93). Our system has been operational at scale in Pakistan for the past 3 years and has received more than 300,000 phone calls. The predictions from our system are widely disseminated to public health officials and form a critical part of active government strategies for dengue containment. Our work is the first to demonstrate, with significant empirical evidence, that an accurate, location-specific disease forecasting system can be built using analysis of call volume data from a public health hotline.

Concepts: Scientific method, Regression analysis, Health, Epidemiology, Future, Forecasting, Telephone, Telephone exchange

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Phone triaging patients with suspected malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) within the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) system offers a model for rapid, expert guided evaluation for patients with rare and treatable diseases within a national integrated healthcare system. To assess feasibility of national open access telephone triage using evidence-based treatment recommendations for patients with MPM, measure timelines of the triage and referral process and record the impact on “intent to treat” for patients using our service.

Concepts: Health economics, Medicine, Healthcare, Cancer, Evidence-based medicine, Mesothelioma, Telephone, Triage

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Objective To evaluate a “telephone first” approach, in which all patients wanting to see a general practitioner (GP) are asked to speak to a GP on the phone before being given an appointment for a face to face consultation.Design Time series and cross sectional analysis of routine healthcare data, data from national surveys, and primary survey data.Participants 147 general practices adopting the telephone first approach compared with a 10% random sample of other practices in England.Intervention Management support for workload planning and introduction of the telephone first approach provided by two commercial companies.Main outcome measures Number of consultations, total time consulting (59 telephone first practices, no controls). Patient experience (GP Patient Survey, telephone first practices plus controls). Use and costs of secondary care (hospital episode statistics, telephone first practices plus controls). The main analysis was intention to treat, with sensitivity analyses restricted to practices thought to be closely following the companies' protocols.Results After the introduction of the telephone first approach, face to face consultations decreased considerably (adjusted change within practices -38%, 95% confidence interval -45% to -29%; P<0.001). An average practice experienced a 12-fold increase in telephone consultations (1204%, 633% to 2290%; P<0.001). The average duration of both telephone and face to face consultations decreased, but there was an overall increase of 8% in the mean time spent consulting by GPs, albeit with large uncertainty on this estimate (95% confidence interval -1% to 17%; P=0.088). These average workload figures mask wide variation between practices, with some practices experiencing a substantial reduction in workload and others a large increase. Compared with other English practices in the national GP Patient Survey, in practices using the telephone first approach there was a large (20.0 percentage points, 95% confidence interval 18.2 to 21.9; P<0.001) improvement in length of time to be seen. In contrast, other scores on the GP Patient Survey were slightly more negative. Introduction of the telephone first approach was followed by a small (2.0%) increase in hospital admissions (95% confidence interval 1% to 3%; P=0.006), no initial change in emergency department attendance, but a small (2% per year) decrease in the subsequent rate of rise of emergency department attendance (1% to 3%; P=0.005). There was a small net increase in secondary care costs.Conclusions The telephone first approach shows that many problems in general practice can be dealt with over the phone. The approach does not suit all patients or practices and is not a panacea for meeting demand. There was no evidence to support claims that the approach would, on average, save costs or reduce use of secondary care.

Concepts: Statistics, Patient, Hospital, Physician, Interval finite element, General practitioner, Primary care, Telephone

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Sensor-embedded phones are an emerging facilitator for participant-driven research studies. Skin cancer research is particularly amenable to this approach, as phone cameras enable self-examination and documentation of mole abnormalities that may signal a progression towards melanoma. Aggregation and open sharing of this participant-collected data can be foundational for research and the development of early cancer detection tools. Here we describe data from Mole Mapper, an iPhone-based observational study built using the Apple ResearchKit framework. The Mole Mapper app was designed to collect participant-provided images and measurements of moles, together with demographic and behavioral information relating to melanoma risk. The study cohort includes 2,069 participants who contributed 1,920 demographic surveys, 3,274 mole measurements, and 2,422 curated mole images. Survey data recapitulates associations between melanoma and known demographic risks, with red hair as the most significant factor in this cohort. Participant-provided mole measurements indicate an average mole size of 3.95 mm. These data have been made available to engage researchers in a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort to better understand and prevent melanoma.

Concepts: Scientific method, Risk, Research, Melanoma, Knowledge, Skin cancer, Mobile phone, Telephone

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To measure the impact of the urgent care telephone service NHS 111 on the emergency and urgent care system.

Concepts: Telephone

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Objective: Obese patients require sustained lifestyle changes to reduce their health risks. We therefore developed a combined planning and telephone aftercare intervention based on the Health Action Process Approach to enhance physical activity after inpatient rehabilitation for obesity. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Patients: A total of 467 obesity rehabilitation patients (55% male; mean age 48 years). Methods: Participants were randomized to receive standard obesity rehabilitation or standard obesity rehabilitation plus the new intervention. Participants in the intervention condition planned individual physical activities they intended to perform after discharge and were followed up by 6 phone calls for 6 months. Physical activity and body weight were assessed after 6 and 12 months. Results: The intervention was well accepted by participants. After 12 months, effects on physical activity, but not body weight, were found. At this point, the duration of physical activity per week was 58 min longer in the intervention group than in the control group. However, body weight was reduced to similar degrees in both groups. Conclusion: The intervention increased physical activity, but did not reduce body weight, compared with standard care. However, even without weight reduction, an increase in physical activity may reduce health risks in obese patients.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Randomized controlled trial, Overweight, Mass, Body mass index, Telephone, Health Action Process Approach

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Large-scale networks of human interaction, in particular country-wide telephone call networks, can be used to redraw geographical maps by applying algorithms of topological community detection. The geographic projections of the emerging areas in a few recent studies on single regions have been suggested to share two distinct properties: first, they are cohesive, and second, they tend to closely follow socio-economic boundaries and are similar to existing political regions in size and number. Here we use an extended set of countries and clustering indices to quantify overlaps, providing ample additional evidence for these observations using phone data from countries of various scales across Europe, Asia, and Africa: France, the UK, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Ivory Coast. In our analysis we use the known approach of partitioning country-wide networks, and an additional iterative partitioning of each of the first level communities into sub-communities, revealing that cohesiveness and matching of official regions can also be observed on a second level if spatial resolution of the data is high enough. The method has possible policy implications on the definition of the borderlines and sizes of administrative regions.

Concepts: Scientific method, Geography, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Knowledge, Telephone, Region, Regional geography

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Purpose: To investigate the feasibility of adopting automated interactive voice response (IVR) technology for remotely capturing standardized speech samples from stuttering children. Method: Participants were 10 6-year-old stuttering children. Their parents called a toll-free number from their homes and were prompted to elicit speech from their children using a standard protocol involving conversation, picture description and games. The automated IVR system was implemented using an off-the-shelf telephony software program and delivered by a standard desktop computer. The software infrastructure utilizes voice over internet protocol. Speech samples were automatically recorded during the calls. Video recordings were simultaneously acquired in the home at the time of the call to evaluate the fidelity of the telephone collected samples. Key outcome measures included syllables spoken, percentage of syllables stuttered and an overall rating of stuttering severity using a 10-point scale. Results: Data revealed a high level of relative reliability in terms of intra-class correlation between the video and telephone acquired samples on all outcome measures during the conversation task. Findings were less consistent for speech samples during picture description and games. Conclusions: Results suggest that IVR technology can be used successfully to automate remote capture of child speech samples.

Concepts: Speech recognition, Internet, Telephone, Interactive voice response, Computer software

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To determine utility of surveillance direct laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy (DLB) in children with chronic tracheostomies by examining the frequency of operative intervention in children undergoing an annual DLB.

Concepts: Telephone, PlayStation 2 games