Telecommunications and health Care: an HIV/AIDS warmline for communication and consultation in Rakai, Uganda.
ABSTRACT Hotlines and warmlines have been successfully used in the developed world to provide clinical advice; however, reports on their replicability in resource-limited settings are limited. A warmline was established in Rakai, Uganda, to support an antiretroviral therapy program. Over a 17-month period, a database was kept of who called, why they called, and the result of the call. A program evaluation was also administered to clinical staff. A total of 1303 calls (3.5 calls per weekday) were logged. The warmline was used mostly by field staff and peripherally based peer health workers. Calls addressed important clinical issues, including the need for urgent care, medication side effects, and follow-up needs. Most clinical staff felt that the warmline made their jobs easier and improved the health of patients. An HIV/AIDS warmline leveraged the skills of a limited workforce to provide increased access to HIV/AIDS care, advice, and education.