To care for patients after regular business hours, more and more optometrists are just a phone call away. Some O.D.s say that after-hours coverage is simply a part of primary patient care. And, many patients emergency problems can be handled simply by a return phone call.

Interestingly, a recent study of after-hours calls to family practices found that a very small percentage of patients (0.6%) were responsible for a large percentage (more than one in five) of all after-hours calls.

The authors suggest that doctors could identify and assist these patients (and reduce the disproportionate number of these patients calls) by intervening with targeted education, proactive treatment and intensive case management.

Hildebrandt DE, Westfall JM, Nicholas RA, et al. Are frequent callers to family physicians high utilizers? Ann Fam Med 2004 Nov-Dec;2(6):546-8.

Vol. No: 142:2Issue: 2/15/05