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Pediatrics. 2014 Sep;134(3):e691-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3759. Epub 2014 Aug 4.

Automated conversation system before pediatric primary care visits: a randomized trial.

Author information

  • 1General Pediatrics,
  • 2Research Department, VA Central Western Massachusetts, Leeds, Massachusetts; and.
  • 3Health Policy and Management.
  • 4Anderson Center and General Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • 5General Internal Medicine, Boston University/Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts;



Interactive voice response systems integrated with electronic health records have the potential to improve primary care by engaging parents outside clinical settings via spoken language. The objective of this study was to determine whether use of an interactive voice response system, the Personal Health Partner (PHP), before routine health care maintenance visits could improve the quality of primary care visits and be well accepted by parents and clinicians.


English-speaking parents of children aged 4 months to 11 years called PHP before routine visits and were randomly assigned to groups by the system at the time of the call. Parents' spoken responses were used to provide tailored counseling and support goal setting for the upcoming visit. Data were transferred to the electronic health records for review during visits. The study occurred in an urban hospital-based pediatric primary care center. Participants were called after the visit to assess (1) comprehensiveness of screening and counseling, (2) assessment of medications and their management, and (3) parent and clinician satisfaction.


PHP was able to identify and counsel in multiple areas. A total of 9.7% of parents responded to the mailed invitation. Intervention parents were more likely to report discussing important issues such as depression (42.6% vs 25.4%; P < .01) and prescription medication use (85.7% vs 72.6%; P = .04) and to report being better prepared for visits. One hundred percent of clinicians reported that PHP improved the quality of their care.


Systems like PHP have the potential to improve clinical screening, counseling, and medication management.


Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.


electronic health record; health information technology; interactive voice response; patient activation; patient-centered; primary care; routine health care maintenance; telephony; well-child visit

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