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Schmitt-Thompson Update: Telephone Triage Nurses Can Now Schedule Your Telehealth

The pandemic accelerated the use of telemedicine, 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 an in-person visit, while more providers — including primary care and specialists — have continued to adopt it. As a result of the increasing demand for telehealth, the triage nurse protocols written by Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Thompson have been updated to include the option for triage nurses to schedule telehealth visits.

In addition, the medical community faces two new challenges from COVID: first, the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant; and second, the rise in patient callers who are nervous and confused about whether their mild-to-moderate symptoms are indications of infection. One of the best options that practices can implement to offset these concerns is by coupling their telehealth with telephone nurse triage.

It leverages gold standard protocols

Telephone nurse triage relies on protocols developed by Drs. Schmitt and Thompson in order to assess patient symptoms and provide dispositions on whether or not to seek emergency medical care. They’ve since been updated to address COVID-19, and were particularly beneficial to callers during the height of the pandemic, simultaneously avoiding unnecessary ER visits, saving lives, and reducing healthcare spend. If your practice doesn’t have the most recent versions of these protocols, we’re offering them for free.

It maximizes your patient coverage

Social distancing and telehealth have created an influx in patient calls in addition to normal appointments. But your in-house staff may feel limited in being able to address all of them, especially if patients phone in after-hours. This is where nurse triage can complement your team’s efforts by acting as an extension of your practice to evaluate patient symptoms, schedule appointments, and offer customized orders. More importantly, this service is available 24/7.

It improves your telehealth

Not only can triage nurses schedule patient appointments for your practice, they can use protocols to determine whether those appointments are eligible for telehealth. All calls and dispositions are documented, and all documents are then shared with your nursing staff and providers, including telehealth eligibility and the rationale for it. This reduces the stress on your own team to manage these appointments, provides a seamless process for your callers, and allows your practice to increase its capacity for seeing in-person patients with more urgent needs.

Customize instructions for eligibility

We fully expect that your telehealth and telemedicine services will differ from other practices, which means you’ll need customized instructions for triage nurses to know which ones you currently offer. When a nurse decides telehealth eligibility, that determination depends on whether the healthcare symptom can be resolved over the phone. The TriageLogic software offers these capabilities so that patients receive the highest standard of care from your practice.

If you think it’s time to integrate telephone nurse triage with your practice, we’re ready to help. Give us a call at (800) 723-4290, or click here for additional contact options.  

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