By Dr. Charu Raheja and Dr. Ravi Raheja
TriageLogic has been approached by several organizations who received funding towards controlling soaring health care costs. Many of these organizations have now become clients because TriageLogic was able to help them improve care while decreasing costs. In this article, we review and explain the process involved in setting up a nurse triage system and the different options for clients looking into setting one up.
First, as we know every patient encounter starts with a phone call. The people answering the phones need to triage patients efficiently and effectively so that care is coordinated and resources are allocated to those needing them. To show cost savings, practices and medical organizations also need to be able to survey patients and document return on investments. We have developed several modules in our software to help our clients show cost savings.
HOW DO YOU SET UP A NURSE TRIAGE SYSTEM?
The evolution of new technology has made several cost-effective options available and TriageLogic’s clients are using each one of these options. They are: (a) do it yourself in-house (and hire your own nurses), (b) outsource to a nurse triage center, (c) use a combination of in-house and outsourcing.
a) Do it yourself in-house: start your own call center
Starting your own call center involves setting up the call center infrastructure. The requirements include hiring an experienced call center manager, purchasing triage software for night-time protocols, and hiring clinical and non-clinical staff. Having your own system gives you the flexibility to perform multiple tasks in addition to triage such as physician referrals, scheduling, disease management, class registration and surveys. The organizations most likely to succeed with this approach are larger organizations with high call volumes, who expect to handle over 50,000 triage calls a year. These companies are the right fit because they already have some call center infrastructure and they just need to add to it. The high call volume also allows the center to use nurses’ time efficiently.
b) Outsource to a nurse triage center
In this option, you outsource the nurse triage function to TriageLogic. The advantage of this option is that it has a relatively low upfront start-up cost. You do not need to train your nursing staff and there is no need for human resources and IT staff. In addition, expenses are based on usage, so there is no fixed overhead for your organization.
Since we already have the call center infrastructure, we are also able start-up practices and hospitals quickly and show an immediate return on investment. In addition, for practices looking for a more seamless experience, our software is also able to integrate directly with Electronic Medical Records.
c) Use a combination of in-house and outsourced services
In this model, the organization uses its own nurse triage software and nurses during high call volumes and outsources the triage calls to TriageLogic during low call volumes. A combined model can prove to be a way to improve services and decrease costs. Many triage centers lose money when the call volume is very low because nurses are sitting idle waiting for phone calls. By outsourcing during those low volume times, you can continue to provide service and reduce cost. This combination can be accomplished seamlessly with our call center technology and integration engines and communication platforms.
In sum, soaring health care costs and increasing incentives from government organizations are making it crucial that we look for ways to improve the allocation of patient care. Nurse triage is a solution that can dramatically reduce medical calls by making sure that patients are getting the care that they need at the right time. Not only does it reduce costs, it also improves patient satisfaction because it gives patients access to a supportive and knowledgeable person who can help them.