In the United States, the proportion of a population in any geographic region that has access to a call center varies by region. The Optum plan, which participates in the National Syndromic Surveillance Demonstration Project, covers 7% of the U.S. population that is unevenly distributed (Yih et al., 2004). Over time, the use of call centers by managed care organizations will increase (Galimi, 1999). Through better allocation of resources, they can lead to a significant reduction in costs (Sabin, 1998), and there is often a high degree of patient satisfaction with call centers (Delichatsios et al., 1998).
Even in the United Kingdom, which has national health care and provides access to a clinical call center to all patients, not every sick individual uses a call center. The United Kingdom's NHS Direct system covers all of England and Wales; however, it reports that the calling volume is 1/40th of the volume of visits to primary care physicians (Cooper et al., 2005).
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