A sick patient blows their nose while talking on speaker phone with a triage nurse.

Better Ways for Your Practice to Manage Patient Phone Calls This Winter

It’s no secret that when temperatures drop, medical offices experience a surge in patient phone calls — particularly when it comes to the flu, COVID, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Is your practice prepared to take on more patient requests during the winter months? Today, we’re sharing our solutions to help manage patient phone calls.

Front Desk Message Intake

When a patient calls a medical practice, their first point of contact is usually with a front desk receptionist. Receptionists play a critical role in patient management by recording patients’ requests and sharing them with providers. However, studies show that 40 percent of messages that are relayed from nonclinical front desk operators are inaccurate when it comes to medical inquiries, as patients often underreport their symptoms. Not only can this delay care for patients, it can also lead to incorrect medical advice.

There are solutions to this issue. First, you can offer additional training to your front desk staff to help them identify when they should ask patients for more information. Second, you can give them access to TriageLogic’s new symptom analysis tool, MedMessage Assist (MMA). MMA uses augmented intelligence to review receptionist notes as they are typed in real time and identify when follow-up questions are necessary to clarify patients’ symptoms. It is important to note that the front desk is not doing any triage or decision-making. They are passing on more accurate messages so that providers can respond to patients appropriately.

Staffing Shortages 

You may find that you need additional support staff to manage patient phone calls during the winter months, especially if you’re juggling call volume while nurse turnover is at an all-time high.

Consider automating front desk intake services that don’t involve decision-making (such as artificial and augmented intelligence, and chatbots) and can free up the time that your staff members need to address critical tasks. This is another area where MedMessage Assist can benefit your team, as it offers integration with automated services like chatbots.

You can also outsource medical message intake and nurse on-call support to TriageLogic.

Relaying Messages to Nurses

After the front desk receives patient requests and files them, it’s imperative that those messages reach nurses in a timely manner.

This works better when you have a system where voicemails and other patient interactions are directed straight to patient electronic medical records, as it not only speeds up the process of submitting requests, but also ensures that nurses have all of the information they require to begin evaluating patient symptom severity. 

Nurse triage software is ideal for this kind of continuity of care. TriageLogic’s myTriageChecklist provides this kind of integration and functionality by letting triage nurses add information to those files and share them directly with referred providers. Full integration with your EMR is another area to improve communication and continuity. 

Effective Patient Triage

If you have nurses to address patient needs in a timely manner, you need to have sufficient triage nurses on staff to call patients back. This includes reviewing patient symptoms to establish how urgent their needs are, obtaining comprehensive medical histories, and adhering to structured Schmitt-Thompson protocols that will outline the next steps for care.

Accomplishing this requires you to either hire and train enough triage nurses, or outsource this work to a clinical call center with RNs who can manage these patient calls for you. Nurses should also have access to the appropriate Schmitt-Thompson protocols that can address adult and pediatric patients, both day and night. Given the variety of conditions that may affect your patients during winter, nurses should also be equipped with updated guidelines on these particular illnesses.

Quality Assurance for Your Nurses

While having nurse triage is important, you also need a means of evaluating your nurses’ calls to make sure that appropriate guidance is being delivered.

Because most practices are only able to review a handful of their incoming calls on a regular basis, the solution to quality assurance is a topnotch call management system. That’s why TriageLogic developed QA Assist. Using the same kind of augmented intelligence as MedMessage Assist, this platform can automate the review of 70 to 85 percent of a practice’s phone calls in real time.  

Nurse managers are able to see if their triage nurses ever select incorrect protocols, or encounter situations where generated protocols are insufficient due to special circumstances.

Manage Patient Phone Calls With TriageLogic

Winter may bring challenges to medical practices across the country, but with adequate preparation and the appropriate technology, practices can provide efficient, accurate care to improve patient satisfaction and well-being. If you’d like to learn more about the solutions we’ve outlined above, contact us today to set up a free demo.

About TriageLogic

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 22,000 physicians and covers over 42 million lives nationwide.

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