Authors: Alike van der Velden, Teun Teunis, Theo Verheij
The pressure on huisartsenposten is increasing; online self-triage tools could help alleviate this burden. This study examined how the Dutch app “Moet ik naar de dokter?” is used, whether the app provides accurate advice, and whether users intend to follow it.
Patients who used the app received a pop-up questionnaire after triage (n = 6194). Then, a triage nurse called 143 users for standard triage.
The app was used by or for patients of all ages, particularly outside office hours, and most often for abdominal pain, skin problems, and coughs. The advice given was to contact a huisartsenpost or general practitioner (58%), self-care (34%), or wait and see (8%). Of the users, 87% rated the app as “neutral” to “very clear,” and 89% were “neutral” to “very satisfied”; 65% planned to follow the app’s advice. The triage nurse gave the same advice as the app in 81% of cases. Two extensions could improve safety and efficiency: the ability to triage more than one complaint and more extensive information when advising to wait and see.
Apps like this can provide good support when people are unsure whether to contact the huisartsenpost. However, further research is needed on the effects of these tools on clinical outcomes and healthcare utilization.
References: Van der Velden AW, Teunis T, Verheij TJ. ‘Moet ik naar de dokter?’ Een app onderzocht. Huisarts Wet 2019;62:DOI:10.1007/s12445-0027-9. This article is a revision of: Verzantvoort NC, Teunis T, Verheij TJ, Van der Velden AW. Self-triage for acute primary care via a smartphone application. Practical, safe and efficient? PLoS One 2018;13:e0199284.