COVID phase two has surfaced its ugly head –and telehealth has been recognized as a solution to most access problems plaguing healthcare. Much of the attention emphasizes Telemedicine. Virtual care provided by physicians is gaining in implementations as well as acceptance among patients and providers alike. However what seems to not be receiving the acclaim and accolades is Telenursing.
Telephone triage has been around since the 1960’s, but never has it been as relevant and relied upon as it has in 2020. And 2021 forecasts are looking very similar. To maintain the slow and steady traction achieved by nurse triage and to reiterate its value, it is important to review the proven benefits of Triage Nursing.
Telehealth-Nurse Triage is Necessary for Telehealth Safety
Telehealth needs to utilize the experience of nurse triage. Telephone triage is grounded in Standards of Care that have been developed by the American Association of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN). Telephone nurse triage is performed by specially trained registered nurses with an average of 5 to 10 years of experience in Emergency and Primary Care, Medical Surgical Nursing and Pediatrics. Practice is guided by evidence-based clinical guidelines which are physician approved and updated annually. Qualified registered nurses understand the need to apply critical thinking skills developed in prior roles when taking care of patients remotely. The ability to observe, palpate and smell are not an option available with remote care, so expertise in astute active listening and therapeutic communication is critical. Quality Assurance monitoring of nurse triage calls indicates that in 97% of the encounters, telephonic triage recommends patients to the safest level of care.
Nurse Triage Steps Up to the Plate During COVID.
- Provides a familiar entry point to clinical care that patients have utilized in the past, know how to access, have confidence in and trust for treatment and care.
- Masterfully practices a touchless method of virtual nursing that eliminates any possibility of transmission, reduces the patients contact with healthcare facilities, other patients, and healthcare staff in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep them and their family healthy.
- Developed training and resources for nursing staff to allay patient anxiety, provide COVID specific evidence-based decision support tools to triage patients and safeguard caregiver staff.
- Educates the public and provides options for health literate options for scientific information pertaining to COVID
- Continues to offer traditional stay-at-home outpatient care for non-COVID related symptoms to ensure patients are not at risk of escalating to a higher level of acuity simply because their provider’s office was closed.
- Reassuring patients, it is safe to go to the ED or Urgent Care if necessary.
Nurse Triage services are being skillfully and compassionately performed by thousands of registered nurses across the country. The CDC has identified Telehealth as the number one solution to safe patient care during the COVID pandemic. Telephone Triage has spent decades doing the legwork to meticulously develop a nursing specialty that is safe, leads to the best health outcomes, satisfies patients and healthcare leadership and is at the heart of value-based care. Being at the forefront of the COVID care team is natural next step for the dynamic progression of Telephone Nurse Triage.
Nurse Triage Contributes to Superior Outcomes which Generate Highest Reimbursements.
The Institute for Healthcare Reform (IHI) identifies three dimensions for improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); improving the health of populations; and reducing the per capita cost of health care. Triage Nurses are the largest group of caregivers who significantly contribute to the fulfillment of these goals. Nurse triage cares for each patient on a 1:1 basis, is a standard offering in most primary care practices, is extremely cost effective, and promotes services and information across a health systems’ network. Fee for value only makes sense with optimal outcomes and access to telephone nurses is an essential component of care.
An Exceptional Patient Experience & Satisfier.
A sign of an organization that is committed to providing exceptional patient experiences is one that provides their patients with access to 24/7 nurse triage services. Today’s healthcare marketplace regards as consumers. Today’s healthcare consumers want what they want when they want it--including clinical care. On demand Telephone triage nurses conduct assessments of patients’ current health issues and tell the patients what they need to do and provide a timeline for care. In many cases, the outcome does not involve a trip to the ED. Patients don’t need to leave their homes, drive across town to a network facility or wait in a crowded waiting room for hours waiting to be seen. Consumers want convenience and remote nurse triage is a wherever, whenever option for patients.
Telephone Nurse Triage is an Investment, Not an Expense!
ROI valuations are impressive and varied--depending on whom you ask. There is no denying the fact that a triage model that pays an RN an average of $30 per hour with an expectation of handling four triage calls during that time is a bargain when compared to other options available. Evidence based protocols guiding triage nurse practice results in advice and treatments that require no further intervention. Subsequent appointment slots on provides schedules are opened up allowing for more lucrative new patient visits or critical symptoms to be accommodated, coded, billed and reimbursed. Self-Insured health systems shave costs of providing care by trusting triage nurses to assess patients in real time, and dispatching to the most appropriate level of care in a defined time frame. No unnecessary trips to overtaxed and expensive ED’s or exploitation of overworked doctors and nurses.
COVID can Overwhelm Nurses Without Productivity Tools
Many medical providers, particularly in general practice, are facing the COVID double whammy. Call volumes are higher and average call times are longer. Patients are waiting longer and are falling through the cracks. Providers don’t have good insight into which of their patients are calling, why they are calling, and which ones are still waiting callback. A healthcare CRM tool guides nurse triage, increases handle speed, documents every call, can integrate with your EHR and phone system, and can even automate scheduling.
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About Keona Health
At Keona Health, we believe that relationships matter. We know that a clinic’s triage system can test a patient-doctor relationship, especially if a patient cannot easily get the help he or she is seeking. Keona Health offers healthcare software and automation solutions to ease the burden of telephone triage on medical practices and help medical professionals better communicate with patients.