1. Customer Service – improving patient experiences
2. Medicine – offering good nursing decisions and sound advice
3. Liability – documenting every call
We have found that the most effective ways to improve the customer service experience are by using a call back system, giving realistic timelines and training the staff. Having a live, non-clinical staff person answer the phone helps patients feel heard, and they will not feel the need to call back. Patients do not like to leave voicemails or stay on hold for long periods of time. Giving realistic timelines to the caller assures patients that they will have an answer at a certain time. Trained staff members who are polite and reassuring also help patients feel that they have been heard. It is important to ensure that there are an appropriate number of staff members for high call volume times, to ensure the best possible service.
When assessing the quality of the nurses’ decisions, it is important to evaluate how many nurses have standard protocols, how many people actually use the protocols and how many think that they should have standard protocols. Protocols that are in place can act as guidelines for the nurse, in the form of a checklist to make consistent, accurate decisions without having to talk to the doctor for every call. Protocols can also act as a training tool to teach nurses what questions to ask. They also provide doctors with peace of mind, because they consistently know the decision process, as well as exactly what is being told to their patients.
The importance of documenting every encounter cannot be overstated, as it demonstrates that the triage nurse followed the proper standard of care.