Patients' impressions of after-hours house-call services during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan: a questionnaire-based observational study

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BMC Fam Pract. 2021 Sep 15;22(1):184. doi: 10.1186/s12875-021-01534-5.


BACKGROUND: Access to healthcare has been strongly affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has raised concerns about the increased risk of delays in receiving medical care. This study aimed to assess the patients’ impressions of after-hour house-call (AHHC) medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic using a patient questionnaire.

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional observational study of anonymized medical record data and internet-based questionnaires from patients who used AHHC medical services from April 2020 to January 2021. We summarized the patients’ impressions of AHHC medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic stratified by patient characteristics. The questions of the questionnaire were as follows: (i) Did you use the AHHC medical services because you suspected you had COVID-19 infection? (ii) Do you feel that the use of AHHC medical services has helped prevent transmission of COVID-19? (iii) What action would you have taken in the absence of AHHC medical services?

RESULTS: A total of 1802 patients responded to the questionnaire (response rate: 11.3%). First, 700 (40.8%) of the responders indicated that they had used AHHC medical services because of suspicion of COVID-19. Second, most responders (88.8%) felt that AHHC medical services prevented transmission of COVID-19. Third, 774 (43.0%) of the responders considered that they would have visited an emergency department or called an ambulance if AHHC medical services had not been used. Furthermore, 411 (22.8%) of the responders indicated that they would remain at home or wait until working hours if AHHC medical services were not available despite having a condition that required emergency attention.

CONCLUSIONS: AHHC medical services may be one of the strategies for those who refrain from seeking healthcare services, thus reducing the risk of delayed hospital visits during emergencies. Furthermore, AHHC medical services may also contribute to preventing transmission of COVID-19 by avoiding contact with other patients in the hospital.

PMID:34525973 | DOI:10.1186/s12875-021-01534-5