Two Answering Service Operators use headsets to talk with patients on a triage line.

How Can Answering Service Operators Help Your Triage Nurses Know if a Call Is Urgent? A New Tool for Answering Services

It’s every triage nurse’s responsibility to get a patient caller to the appropriate care in the appropriate window of time. Nurses taking patient phone calls usually work on a callback queue and are trained to prioritize calls based on the symptoms collected by the answering service. So how do nurses know if a call is urgent and needs to be answered immediately?

It may be obvious if a parent complains about a baby under 3 months with fever, or an adult calls with chest pain. However, some patients may call saying that they need a prescription refill and fail to mention they have more serious symptoms. If the answering service doesn’t specifically ask, the triage nurse may think an urgent call is routine priority. TriageLogic has now launched an AI-based tool for answering services. The AI software prompts answering service staff to ask several relevant questions, and ensures that the intake better reflects whether or not a patient is experiencing urgent symptoms.

The Role of the ASO

Answering Service Operators (ASOs) are the first people who interact with callers on a triage line. They’re responsible for understanding why each patient is calling, routing their request to the triage nurse, and informing them on when they should expect a callback. Ideally, this is an effective arrangement. However, as nurses call patients back, they also need to keep an eye out for emergencies where the patient should not wait long for a phone call. If operators don’t ask detailed questions and describe enough of the patient’s needs, nurses are more likely to overlook when a call is urgent, and may inadvertently delay care.

So how can ASOs avoid making this mistake?

Non-Clinical ASO Tool by TriageLogic

TriageLogic now offers a non-clinical tool that analyses text in the background and prompts operators to ask more detailed questions when needed.

For example, say that a patient calls because they need to get a prescription refill. The ASO may see this as a standard refill request and mark it as such when passing it to a triage nurse for review. But what if the patient is starting to experience withdrawal symptoms, chest pains, or an anxiety attack? All of these circumstances warrant a more immediate response. The patient may not think to mention them, and the ASO may not know to ask.

Our tool guides the ASO to ask a few key questions when needed to clarify if the call may be urgent. It requires almost no training and adds very little time to the call intake process.

Tool Integration

Our Answering Service Operator tool is self-standing; if all you need is something to help your operators  answer and document triage calls more efficiently, you can start using it out of the box. It can also be seamlessly integrated with your current answering service software with minimal effort using our prebuilt APIs and integration modules.

That said, we’ve seen how much turnover has been affecting the healthcare sector — especially for nurses — so we understand that the time may come where you’ll need more in-depth triage support. That’s why we offer several outsourced telehealth triage solutions from ASOs at our call center, including:

Nurse Triage On Call. We have registered nurses in our call center that can respond to your patient needs 24/7. They act as an extension of your practice, use the most updated Schmitt-Thompson protocols, and incorporate customized instructions from your providers.

Nurse Triage Software. MyTriageChecklist is a fully developed triage software solution that gives nurses the ability to thoroughly document every triage call, before sharing that information directly with a patient’s provider. It’s both secure and HIPAA-compliant, ultimately reducing triage nurse liability and improving patient health.

Improving Your Nurse Triage

Nurse triage is an essential component to better health outcomes. We’ve seen time and again how it has guided patients to seek the appropriate care — not only in terms of critical care that they would have delayed, but also in avoiding unnecessary trips to the ER. It’s also a great way to promote value-based care and reduce unnecessary provider spending.

Learn when a call is urgent by trying out our ASO tool with your staff! Or let’s talk about other nurse triage solutions that you may need. Contact us today to get started.

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 9,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide.

Learning Center: courses and videos, learn more about telephone triage

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