TriageLogic A nurse at a nurse's station in a hospital calls a patient back from a note they received from medical answering services, while a doctor reviews additional information beside her.

Why Should Doctors Care More About the Quality of Their Medical Answering Services?

Doctors receive patient messages for a variety of reasons, including health concerns, prescription refill or appointment requests, and questions about test results. Medical answering services have become an essential part of the healthcare system for fielding these messages, while providing round-the-clock communication and support to patients and providers. Medical answering services allow doctors and nurses to prioritize their time and focus on more complex and urgent cases that require immediate responses. Consequently, as the demand for medical answering services continues to grow, the need for efficient and accurate communication is more important than ever.

When we refer to the quality of medical answering services, we’re referring to the accuracy as much as the demeanor exhibited by its nonclinical operators. This is important to distinguish because an answering service might appear to be performing well — with operators responding to patients courteously, taking down their information, and relaying messages quickly — while in reality, those messages are missing important details about patients’ symptoms that nurses need to know. Surprisingly, we found that a third of urgent messages relayed to nurses and doctors do not accurately reflect the urgency of the symptoms that patients are experiencing.

Here’s why we encourage doctors to look for a solution such as MedMessage Assist (MMA) to help train operators and ensure the accuracy of the messages that they send. 

Reason #1: Reduced Liability

Patients and nonclinical operators have one thing in common: neither of them are certified medical professionals. This means that it’s easy for both of them to overlook important symptoms that could be indicative of serious medical concerns.

When these symptoms are overlooked, callbacks may not be prioritized appropriately, and patients’ health outcomes can suffer due to delayed care.

MedMessage Assist is able to avoid this issue by analyzing the text that operators type while they’re speaking with patients, then give them questions to ask when it identifies potentially urgent symptoms. These questions help clarify the level of symptom severity, and — by extension — how soon a member of your staff (like a triage nurse) should respond.

  • Upwards of 40 percent of medical answering service messages may be in error.
  • Poor health outcomes due to medical answering services could leave providers liable, costing millions of dollars in insurance claims and damaged reputations. 

Reason #2: Empowered Operators and Less Turnover

Nonclinical operators are feeling the stress of the job market as much as other industries — including burnout or fears of being let go. MedMessage Assist offers them a tool that empowers them in their roles, makes them more efficient, and reduces workplace stress.

We’ve emphasized before why we don’t look at MMA as a replacement for these operators, but a means of improving their work. When you hear us refer to MedMessage as “AI,” we mean augmented intelligence as much as artificial intelligence.

It’s also worth noting that MMA has little to no effect on call duration for nonclinical operators. At most, we’ve seen an average increase of 15 seconds because of the questions that it prompts — well worth it, if it means that all patients are helped appropriately.

Plus, our software is self-teaching, meaning your operators will learn how to use it without the need for additional trainers or support staff.

Reason #3: Better Continuity of Care

When medical messages are accurate, triage nurses and providers are able to respond in the appropriate windows of time. This allows them to determine whether patients should be able to manage their symptoms at home, or whether they need to seek care from a general practitioner or ER doctor. 

These dispositions should be coupled with the original messages from nonclinical operators, notated in patient files, and shared with the relevant healthcare providers. All of this data is much easier to organize and keep compliant (both for HIPAA and cybersecurity) when done with intuitive triage software that can integrate with an existing EMR or share files directly with one.

When your patients know where to go for their medical evaluations, when they should go, and already have their information shared with providers, their in-person diagnoses and treatment plans are more timely and effective. As a result, you reduce unnecessary expenses for your patients and your practice.

Watch a Demonstration of MedMessage Assist

As we discussed, there are several key reasons to consider implementation of MedMessage Assist.

  1. It reduces liability.
  2. It improves continuity of care.
  3. It makes work easier for nonclinical operators.
  4. It pays for itself.
  5. It provides its own training.
  6. It’s compliant with HIPAA, and adheres to cybersecurity best practices.
  7. It integrates with any electronic system and workflow.

Are you ready to see MMA in action? We’d love to share a demo with you and your team! Contact us today to get started.

About TriageLogic

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 22,000 physicians and covers over 42 million lives nationwide.

Learning Center: courses and videos, learn more about telephone triage

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