Telephone nurse triage is a valuable means for healthcare organizations and medical call centers to evaluate patient caller symptoms and direct them to the appropriate care. Making sure that your triage is as accurate and standardized as possible often depends on the software available to your nurses. That’s why we’ve developed a checklist of the main features we think are the most important to look for when you’re evaluating nurse triage software.
1. Nurse Triage Protocols
The ideal nurse triage software will include Schmitt-Thompson protocols. These are considered the gold standard for telephone triage because they are symptom-based, guided protocols that nurses can use to evaluate all potential symptoms and their severity. Over 90 percent of all US-based call centers use them.
Schmitt-Thompson protocols are updated by a panel of medical professionals on a routine basis — annually, after a widespread health event (like COVID), or based on specific physician requests.
There are currently two versions of these protocols that are available to providers: one for daytime calls, and one for after-hours calls. Because plenty of patients experience health concerns in the evening or at night, we highly encourage that you use triage software that includes both versions.
Versatile nurse triage software should allow physicians the ability to define customized paths to care in addition to standardized protocols. This includes specialized instructions that triage nurses can give to patients based on the needs of each physician’s practice. Custom workflows can address questions like:
If a patient needs to be seen before the office opens, what urgent care or ER should they go to?
If they need a weekend appointment, what is the process for scheduling that after hours?
Are there specific over-the-counter medications that doctors want triage nurses to recommend to patients?
3. Fast Implementation
Installing nurse triage software shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out process. Thirty minutes or less is sufficient for a web-based system to be up and running for your nurses.
Make sure to ask what training is available with that software, from initial instructions on how to use it, to any troubleshooting that may be needed once the service is active. You also want to include training for your nurses on how the protocols work and how to use them appropriately. Ideally, this would be performed by a nurse manager, who understands the needs and responsibilities of registered nurses.
4. Flexible Integration
Continuum of care depends on shareable patient data. That’s why nurse triage software should be able to function as a facet of clinical decision support: documenting all patient calls thoroughly, and directly sending that information in real-time to any doctors who are involved with their recommended care.
This includes integration directly with providers’ existing EMRs, or the ability to deliver EMR-compatible files to them for upload.
The best nurse triage software also offers compatibility with existing health cloud systems like Salesforce so that patient engagement continues well beyond initial triage calls.
Because of the sensitive nature of all healthcare data, and the consequences of noncompliance, it is absolutely imperative that nurse triage software demonstrate its commitment to HIPAA and cybersecurity.
Ask your nurse triage software vendor what kinds of cybersecurity features they have enabled to keep their service secure. Confirm whether they use a private cloud infrastructure and a backup server for data redundancy, and whether they follow policies in accordance with SOC 2 certification.
6. Liability and Reporting
While nurse triage software should improve patient health outcomes, it must also protect your nurses and your practice. Standardized nurse triage protocols and intuitive software allow nurses to stay on script when it comes to evaluating patients’ needs, identifying all pertinent symptoms, documenting all calls thoroughly, and refraining from giving their own diagnoses.
Nurse triage reporting can be used to anticipate call volumes and improve scheduling, identify which protocols are used more frequently, and verify that nurses are responding to patients in the appropriate windows of time based on the urgency of their requests.
Are You Ready for a Demo of MyTriageChecklist?
TriageLogic’s myTriageChecklist solution easily satisfies all of the recommendations above. Contact us to schedule a demo when you’re ready to see what the most customizable, HIPAA-compliant nurse triage software can offer providers and call center services alike.
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.