Patient phone calls, and questions about whether or not their symptoms require an office or emergency visit, are part of every busy medical practice. However, how do you train your nurses to ensure that they give the appropriate care advice every time, while documenting caller information, symptoms, and dispositions? If your team wants to decrease patient liability on these calls, implement software with medical protocols that document all of this information. Specifically, Schmitt-Thompson protocols ensure each patient caller is directed to the appropriate level of care in an appropriate window of time, regardless of when they call. Effective triage software — e.g. MyTriageChecklist — is an easy-to-use solution for nurses that includes these standardized protocols to address any patient symptom. It also includes thorough documentation with timestamps, and the ability to customize triage protocols and care instructions based on the needs of the practice. Best of all, the information can either be integrated to your EMR or simply copied to an EMR file, ensuring continuity of care.
Documentation Means Everything
When it comes to avoiding patient liability as a triage nurse or healthcare provider, documentation is everything. Consider the following example of a doctor who took a patient’s call while out of the office. Here, he wasn’t able to notate his care advice to the patient in their chart — in fact, the only option available to him was to scribble his notes on a napkin. That patient went on to experience a medical complication, then subsequently sued the doctor by disputing what the actual care instructions were during their call. Thanks to that napkin though, the doctor had proof of what he’d said.
Thankfully, nurse triage software is far more thorough.
MyTriageChecklist uses the gold standard of triage protocols developed by Drs. Schmitt and Thompson. These protocols are easy to follow, are updated regularly as new healthcare issues develop (such as COVID), and can be customized with instructions specifically for your practice. In turn, they ensure that nurses are prompted with the best questions to ask patients based on the severity of their symptoms, and allow those nurses to document their thought processes as they triage each call. With that, all of their interactions are recorded and easily accessible for reference.
The results? Nurses can shift their attention to their patients, and patients receive the correct outcomes, no matter which nurses they speak with. Another advantage is that all incoming calls receive the same quality of care or advice regardless of which nurses answer them.
MyTriageChecklist is a system that is both easy to train, and easy to use. It doesn’t require any preexisting software or long-term implementation. In fact, most practices can have it up and running in less than 30 minutes. Plus, our nurse director trains your nurses, and our medical director oversees your program.
Along with symptom severity, effective triage software allows nurses to record relevant patient history so that their dispositions for care are based on all of their potential health factors. Nurses must be mindful of addressing callers objectively, avoiding stereotypes, and using their listening skills to evaluate symptoms in their entirety.
Triage software should include timestamps for pivotal moments recorded on nurse calls. These include when calls are received, when they’re returned, and when they’re completed.
Consider that the biggest threat to nurse triage is delayed patient care. As such, it is critical that your nurses correctly address patients’ symptoms in a timely manner, advise them to seek care from the appropriate medical professionals, and have the documentation to back up their work.
Part of the nurse triage process is providing clear dispositions and follow-up instructions. If a patient’s condition suddenly changes, a nurse’s notes should reflect this change, as well as the triage advice that they offered. When patients are referred to providers, this documentation should also be easy to share with them. If it is, those providers can then address those patients immediately and maintain a continuity of care, especially when their patients’ needs are urgent.
Communicating With Providers
If a patient’s health begins to deteriorate, triage software should have instructions for the responding nurse to know how to expedite assistance from a referred provider. For instance, MyTriageChecklist offers a secure texting and chat option that lets nurses contact physicians, update them on the conditions of their patients, and close the loop on care.
Reduce Your Patient Liability with MyTriageChecklist
Would you like to see how TriageLogic’s MyTriageChecklist solution can benefit your patient callers and their dispositions? If so, contact us today to schedule a demo.
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.