The events of 2020 accelerated the use of telehealth, and indications are that it’s here to stay. Patients and families have largely embraced it as a convenient means of medical care for concerns and questions that do not require in-person visits. Many providers, including primary care and specialists, have continued to adopt it due to the rise in calls they may experience. However, one part of telehealth that is still often overlooked is the role that nurses should play. What are the most effective ways they can assist in caring for patients over the phone?
First, telehealth nurses can screen patient symptoms to decide which ones require a doctor’s follow-up. For example, nurse triage software has Schmitt-Thompson triage protocols that provide the most up-to-date care information to their patients, and nurse triage call centers can schedule telehealth appointments on behalf of providers.
Second, telehealth nurses can review patient vitals from the data collected by remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices. They can check these results daily and instruct patients to see their respective doctors when their vitals indicate potential health complications.
Nurse Telephone Triage
In a traditional office setting, nurses take vitals, talk to patients, and evaluate their needs before a doctor even arrives. Nurse triage offers a similar evaluation over the phone before a patient schedules an appointment, saving the practice time to focus on those who have more severe and immediate needs. These caller interactions are also documented thoroughly using nurse triage software for continuity of care in case a patient must see a physician after their call.
Nurse triage call centers further benefit these medical practices and hospitals by offering 24/7 support to answer patient questions about their symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate level of care.
Protocols and Appointment Setting
Nurse triage call centers can schedule patient appointments for a practice and use protocols to determine whether those appointments are eligible for telehealth. They document all calls and dispositions along with patient telehealth eligibility and the rationale for it, then share that documentation with on-site nursing staff and providers. This reduces the stress on an in-house team to manage these appointments, and provides a seamless process for callers.
Ebooks and Statistics
During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, TriageLogic conducted a study using data from patient phone calls sent to our nurse triage call center. This data from adult callers indicates that telephone nurse triage provides a safe and effective way to direct patients to the appropriate level of care, saves lives, and reduces the burden on healthcare systems.
- To compare against pre-Covid data, learn more here
The following handbook covers more details of the process and software requirements for telehealth nurses.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is on track to be the future of healthcare. It’s the use of wearable devices that gather patient health data while they’re at home and share it directly with the patient’s providers.
Telehealth triage nurses can also evaluate this data to identify early warning signs of potential health complications and notify patients when they should seek care. Such an arrangement is especially valuable to physicians who need assistance managing their chronic care patients and the increasing annual costs for treatment. Consider the following:
- Six in 10 adults in the United States suffer from some form of a chronic condition, such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease.
- Chronic diseases are responsible for 75% of the 3.5 trillion dollars spent on healthcare every year.
- Overall, it’s estimated that widespread RPM adoption could save the U.S. as much as $6 billion annually.