Dr. Ravi Raheja, CTO and Medical Director at TriageLogic, had the pleasure of sitting down with Adrienne Houghton with Jacksonville Buzz to discuss the nature of nurse triage, its influence on telehealth, and what he sees for the future of healthcare technology. You can watch the full interview below, or read on to learn more about some of the particulars.
The History of TriageLogic
When asked about the founding of TriageLogic, Dr. Raheja cites his wife, Charu, as the one who developed the concept: taking what triage nurses used to do — often sitting in basements receiving faxes — and giving them active roles in patient engagement through a medical call center instead.
Not only did this improve where they could work, it also addressed another major concern for nurses: time.
As Dr. Raheja explains, most nurses have one of two options for the length of their shifts. Either they work nine to five in doctors’ practices, or they pull 12-hour rotations at a hospital or emergency department. However, with the rise of telephone nurse triage, nurses have been given the flexibility to work outside of traditional office hours that aren’t half-day requirements.
As some at TriageLogic have noted, this work-life balance has allowed them to spend valuable time with their families, while still pursuing careers that they enjoy.
The Purpose of Telephone Triage
While telephone nurse triage has been a career boon for many nurses, it’s also provided substantial benefits to patients. One of these is helping them determine if they should or shouldn’t go to the ER. Dr. Raheja notes that, without nurse triage, around 50 percent of the people who will end up at an emergency room won’t actually need that kind of care, while eight to 10 percent who should go will actively delay it.
In these situations, the onus is on patients to decide what care they should seek, when this decision should actually be carried out by a qualified medical professional. Because traditional provider care comes from a physical examination at a doctor’s office, urgent care, or ER, patients can be quick to overreact or hesitate to go without really knowing whether they’re doing the right thing.
Telephone nurse triage removes this confusion by having registered nurses talk with these patients and use Schmitt-Thompson protocols — the gold standard in nurse triage — to evaluate all of their symptoms. This eliminates guesswork and ensures that patients see the appropriate providers in the appropriate windows of time.
This arrangement also gives patients access to an important medical service: empathy. Many patients are intimidated by the idea of seeing doctors or going to the ER, so talking with nurses over the phone first can alleviate a lot of their apprehension, stress, and uncertainty. Plus, using telephone nurse triage doesn’t mean that patients are agreeing to any sort of care; merely that they’re learning about what providers and services are recommended and available.
Nurse Triage and Telehealth
The use of telehealth has grown substantially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and nurse triage has been quick to incorporate it. One of the first protocol updates following lockdowns allowed triage nurses to verify telehealth eligibility for patient callers, and schedule visits with available providers.
While patients have appreciated this service, Dr. Raheja notes that telehealth hasn’t been adopted by all providers, often due to the matter of reimbursement. The pandemic may have prompted reimbursement codes for doctors, he says, but the same hasn’t been true for nurses — in spite of the fact that they’re the ones who offer some of the most cost-effective patient engagement, and address 75 percent of what doctors would normally be asked.
Our hope is that this will change, especially as more providers see how valuable nurse triage and telehealth can be together.
Nurse Triage Solutions
Beyond the scope of this interview, TriageLogic offers several solutions that providers can use to standardize their care, boost their revenue, and improve their patient outcomes.
Nurse Triage On Call. This is TriageLogic’s outsourced medical call center, which is available 24/7, and operates as an extension to any practice. It includes the option for providers to submit their own customized instructions for triage nurses to use on their behalf.
MyTriageChecklist. This is the most intuitive and customizable nurse triage software on the market today. It’s secure and HIPAA compliant, gives triage nurses the ability to document all patient interactions thoroughly, and allows them to share patient information directly with their providers.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). Wearable RPM devices produce a lot of data. Triage nurses can be outsourced to perform data review and notify patients when symptoms indicate potential health concerns, thus removing the burden from a practice’s in-house team.
Secure Texting. Doctors and nurses may need to coordinate quickly when it comes to patient care. When pagers and voice calls may fail, texting offers a convenient alternative — especially when it doesn’t require downloading any special software, and can be used both securely and discreetly.
MedMessage Assist. Nonclinical operators who act as the first points of contact for patients can miss important symptoms that triage nurses need to know about in order to prioritize their callbacks. MedMessage Assist uses artificial intelligence to analyze what these operators type into their triage software, and prompt them with additional questions to ask patients when needed.
Would You Like to Talk About a Nurse Triage Program?
Do you have questions regarding the nurse triage services above? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today to discuss a program.
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 12,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide.