A nursing shortage was already looming before the pandemic. Since then, it’s only gotten worse. Many nurses are ready for a break from the bedside and would rather have options that are more flexible or remote. Ninety-two percent of surveyed U.S. nurse leaders expect this shortage to intensify, and predict that little time is available to avoid it. Let’s discuss what has led to this point, and how nurse triage can be one solution.
Why Are Nurses Leaving?
Nurses are leaving their roles for many reasons: the long hours and fixed schedules; burnout from treating high volumes of patients during the pandemic; managing the misinformation spread about COVID-19; and, as Fierce Healthcare notes, the high turnover of unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP), leaving nurses with more work to shoulder in their absence.
Nurses are also increasingly attracted to the potential benefits of remote work: no time or money spent on commuting, competitive salaries, and flexible schedules that don’t require full-time hours.
The only catch? Remote positions may be few and far between, and also may not give nurses what they really want.
What Remote Work Does Healthcare Offer?
Most remote positions in healthcare tend to focus on case management and utilization review. They’re also often set on a fixed weekday schedule and tend to require several years of experience to even be considered.
In short, they aren’t much of a permanent solution to the nursing shortage, as more and more nurses look for a better work-life balance.
That’s where telephone and telehealth nurse triage come into play.
These offer nurses remote positions to assist patient callers, evaluate their symptoms, and determine what types of medical care they should seek. Triage nurses are not required to work 9 to 5, nor for 12-hour shifts. They don’t provide diagnoses, only guidance on who to talk to about medical care.
In fact, nurses aren’t even required to work full time. They can be scheduled during normal office hours, or for after-hours coverage based on anticipated call volumes.
All they need are two important pieces of technology: nurse triage software, and nurse triage protocols.
Nurse Triage Software
TriageLogic’s myTriageChecklist (MTC) is the most intuitive nurse triage software available on the market. It provides an easy-to-use interface for documenting all patient interactions and utilizes a straightforward decision tree for evaluating their systems. All patient data is secured and encrypted to meet HIPAA compliance and cybersecurity best practices. It can also be shared directly with the appropriate provider depending on each patient’s disposition for care.
Large practices can license MTC and have their own nurses work remotely to manage patient calls for different practitioners. If you sign up, TriageLogic offers free training on MTC from an experienced call center nurse manager.
Nurse Triage Protocols
Schmitt-Thompson protocols are the gold standard for nurse triage. They’re the decision tree that MTC relies on to evaluate patient symptoms. They take into account all symptoms and their severity to determine whether each patient should seek care from a PCP or ER, or whether they can manage their symptoms with home care. These protocols are updated at various times throughout the year: annually, following review from a board of medical professionals; during any widespread health-related concerns like COVID-19; and as providers make recommendations based on their own experiences.
How Nurse Triage Helps Your Nursing Shortage
Now that you know how nurse triage can help alleviate some of the concerns surrounding the current nursing shortage, how should you apply this solution to your practice?
The answer depends on three factors.
Your practice size. Do you intend to hire and train nurses internally to manage your telephone or telehealth nurse triage? Then you may only need to license MyTriageChecklist for them to use.
Your triage coverage. Do you want phone coverage only during office hours, or after hours, too? You may find it much more cost effective in both instances to outsource this service to TriageLogic’s Nurse Triage on Call. Our call center of registered nurses can respond to your patients 24/7, ensure that they receive callbacks in the appropriate windows of time, and strengthen your continuity of care.
What your nurses want. Are they looking for flexible schedules and remote-based positions? Nurse triage has both. We also include additional training for nurses who want to grow in these careers — free courses in our Learning Center, or certification for a nominal fee.
Let’s Talk About Your Nurses
When you’re ready, let’s schedule some time to talk about the needs your organization has when it comes to the nursing shortage, nurse triage, and improved patient care. Give us a call at (800) 723-4290, or click here to submit a request for a discussion.
TriageLogic is a URAC-accredited, physician-led provider of top-quality nurse telehealth technology, remote patient monitoring, and medical call center solutions. Founded in 2007, the TriageLogic Group now serves more than 9,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide.