Recent advances in telecommunications technology have created opportunities to enhance the quality of health care services through telehealth, the use of telecommunications and information technologies to deliver health care. However, the diverse technologies and applications encompassed by telehealth have tended to confuse discussions of the effectiveness of these programs. An interactive voice response system (IVRS) is a simple, yet effective telehealth application that improves access to health care by continuing care beyond the hospital setting, with specially tailored programs that are easily accessible to patients around the clock. Often described as a telephone connected to a "talking computer," an IVRS allows patient interaction for data collection or to deliver recorded telephone messages related to medication compliance or behavior modification. Despite easy access to touchtone telephone services and growing familiarity with IVRS, many health care providers are unaware of these programs. This paper reviews the infrastructure of IVRS technology and its uses in health care.
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