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Systematic review
Automated telephone communication systems may have the potential to play a positive role in healthcare
  1. Abi Eccles,
  2. Helen Atherton
  1. Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Helen Atherton, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; h.atherton{at}

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Commentary on: Posadzki P, Mastellos N, Ryan R, et al. Automated telephone communication systems for preventive healthcare and management of long-term conditions. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016;12:CD009921.

Implications for practice and research

  • Automated telephone communication systems (ATCS) have the potential to play a positive role in healthcare, but practical matters should be considered before implementation.

  • Further evidence is needed to counter the variable and often low-quality evidence available to date, which limits the extent to which ATCS can be safely implemented across populations.


Recent years have seen communication technologies promoted as a route to improve access for patients and save resources in healthcare systems under strain.1 One such development is ATCS that are used instead of—or in conjunction with—telephone communication between patients and healthcare professionals. Rather than person-to-person communication, ATCS use computer-to-person communication to deliver voice messages to patients and/or collect health-related information from patients using touch tone keypads or voice recognition software. Unlike the use of the telephone for consultation …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.