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Triage Calls: Physicians Rest Easy During the Holidays
The holidays are a time for celebration and spending time with loved ones. In light of the festivities, many practices close their office for a few days, and sometimes more. It is also the season of cold and flu when patients need access to a provider the most. Physicians have to decide on how they want to provide care while their office is closed. They may choose to take patient calls, but with such a high volume, it really doesn’t allow for time-off.
“We always experience an increase in call volume during the holidays. Our typical phone calls range from flu symptoms to children eating ornaments,” says Marci Lawing, RN, Nurse Manager with TriageLogic.
Many physicians invest in a nurse triage service. Doctors can rest easy during their vacation, knowing that trained registered nurses will triage calls and answer patient concerns. Protocols allow a standardized approach for nurses to triage patient, and are yet another feature that provides reassurance to the physician.
How Does Nurse Triage Work?
There are five steps in the process.
- An individual calls the nurse triage center requiring medical assistance; the operator then collects the individual’s information and relays it to a triage nurse.
- The caller explains his/her medical history and symptoms to the nurse.
- Upon review, the nurse then selects the applicable protocol and assesses the caller’s symptoms via checklist to determine the appropriate level of care.
- The nurse proceeds to document the call, and
- Relays the caller’s information to a physician via fax and/or directly to the EMR or by a web portal for physicians to access and check the calls.
Physicians needn’t worry as they take a vacation during the holidays. With registered nurses ready to triage calls and answer patient concerns, physicians can enjoy their break. Additionally, having a nurse triage service promotes continuity of care by providing triage notes to the physician. Patients also benefit as they have the option to speak with a nurse regarding their non-urgent concerns, rather than going straight to an Urgent Care Center or the Emergency Room.
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