Novel Telephone-Based Interactive Voice Response System for Incident Reporting

Published:September 25, 2021DOI:


      The voluntary reporting of medical errors and near misses is a well-established patient safety reporting mechanism. However, studies suggest that these incident reporting systems (IRSs) detect less than 10% of all adverse events. Improving the process of reporting can facilitate more informative and timely data capture while providing more opportunities to improve health care quality and safety. The purpose of this study was to understand the barriers to incident reporting via the existing Web-based IRS and develop solutions to increase the ease and efficiency of reporting.


      A survey of staff in a diagnostic imaging department in St. Catharines, Ontario was performed to identify barriers to incident reporting. Based on the barriers identified, two methods of incident reporting were tested in successive phases: (1) a phone-based voice message mailbox, in the computed tomography suite; and (2) a phone-based structured interactive voice response system (IVRS), across the entire department. We measured the rate of incident reports/day and time required to complete reports.


      The three most common barriers to reporting identified were lack of time, complexity of reporting system, and lack of feedback. There was a significant difference in reports per day for the IVRS (mean [M] = 3.43, standard deviation [SD] = 2.71) compared to the IRS (M = 0.99, SD = 0.55); t(31) = 4.58, p ≤ 0.00001. There was also a significant difference in the average time to make a report for the IVRS (M = 97 seconds [s], SD = 30 s) compared to the IRS (M = 644 s, SD = 90 s); t(4) =13.55, p = 0.00025.


      IVRS is an innovative approach to incident reporting that may prove to be more efficient than Web-based approaches and encourage higher reporting rates.
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