Does your team have difficulty maintaining the appropriate nurse triage coverage due to unpredictable patient call volume? This is especially true when calls come in waves, or right after doctors’ offices have closed. While many of the reasons for these calls may be non-urgent — a prescription refill request, for instance — nurses should never assume that they are until they have the opportunity to review all patient symptoms thoroughly. How can they do this and still handle all calls in the appropriate windows of time? Here are your best options.
1. Answering Service Operators
As the first people to greet your patient callers, Answering Service Operators (ASOs) can be empowered to learn as much as possible about each caller’s needs and share that information with the appropriate triage nurse. That means asking the right questions, prompted by specialized protocols, to learn about those symptoms and document them accordingly. This enables triage nurses to perform patient callbacks in the appropriate windows of time, based on whether patient symptoms are emergent, urgent, or non-urgent. See the TriageLogic Medical Answering Service solution for an easy-to-implement tool for answering services.
2. Intuitive Triage Software
Your nurse triage coverage will benefit from software that standardizes this symptom-checking, and makes it easy to determine symptom severity. In turn, this will consolidate how much time each patient requires, and allow nurses to answer all triage calls with the appropriate attention to detail.
These are the reasons why we originally developed MyTriageChecklist. It relies on the gold standard of triage protocols developed by Drs. Schmitt and Thompson to guide nurses through the appropriate steps of symptom-checking, documentation, and disposition. It also allows for convenient, secure integration with providers’ in-house EMRs so that referred physicians have immediate access to a respective patient’s file. Best of all, it is very easy to implement and train. Our director of nursing trains your nurses as part of the license, and nurses are up and running within hours.
3. Secure Patient Chat
It’s important to note three aspects of patient behavior in today’s healthcare setting: 1) patients are more engaged in their own health; 2) patients are more likely to manage their own care using a mobile device; and 3) patients may not always want to talk on the phone before they know there’s a serious concern. Therefore, it benefits them — as much as your nurse triage coverage — to offer a secure chat feature that lets your patients answer questions about their own health before they speak with a nurse. It can perform the same function as an ASO when it comes to identifying the urgency of a call, helps reduce initial patient call volume, and prioritizes those patients who need the most immediate responses. TriageLogic’s version doesn’t require downloading an app or software in order to use, comes fully compliant with HIPAA, offers best-in-class cybersecurity, and allows patients the convenience of confirming when they’ll receive nurse triage callbacks (and from what area code).
4. Data Review
Your team will have better nurse triage coverage when they know 1) the typical needs of patients in your area, and 2) the times when those patients are most likely to call. That’s why TriageLogic offers integrated analytics with its MyTriageChecklist software. These give you access to your nurses’ most used protocols and dispositions, patient call volumes during specific days, weeks, or months, as well as how many patients each of your nurses are able to assist within those timeframes.
5. Outsource Your Nurse Triage
Another option is to simply outsource your nurse triage to a qualified provider. This can be especially valuable if you need after-hours coverage.
TriageLogic offers 24/7 access to registered nurse support that can act as an extension of your practice. This support includes the software, protocols, and data analytics mentioned above. Plus, you only pay for the calls our nurses actually answer.
Which Solutions Do You Need?
If you have questions about how to address patient call volume, or about the solutions we’ve outlined above, we want to hear from you! Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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.