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Nurse Triage and After Hours Care

Virtual Triage: How Can It Help Your Pediatric Practice?

By January 19, 2022May 24th, 2024No Comments
Nurse wearing scrubs

With the pandemic surging on, so are all the other viruses that cause many pediatric illnesses during the winter. As a result, you’ve probably noticed an increase in phone calls to your practice since the holidays. 

For example, your office phone lines are simultaneously ringing, and your practice’s voicemail boxes are full. Your office staff members are returning phone calls as efficiently as they can, taking message after message from parents asking what they need to do for their child. The symptoms all sound the same: cough, runny nose, low-grade fever, fussiness, and maybe a rash that could be the result of the symptoms or perhaps what’s causing them.

Your nurses are working to triage patients but are aware that it could be one of several different diagnoses. They think to themselves how much easier it would be to pinpoint the illness if they could just look at the patient. 

Despite getting appropriate medical advice via nurse triage, patients’ parents are still concerned. They don’t want to seem difficult, so they forgo follow-up questions and decide to call back if anything gets worse. Truthfully, parents are desperate for their child to be seen, and they want, most importantly, a diagnosis.

Does this sound familiar? When it comes to your patients, it can be extremely confusing to know who should be treated at home, who needs an office visit, and who should be seen in an urgent care or emergency room setting. At Anytime Pediatrics, we know this is a pain point for many practices. That’s why we’ve developed an innovative solution that takes nurse triage to the next level: Anytime After Hours.

What is Enhanced Virtual Nurse Triage?

Virtual nurse triage takes the video technology from telehealth visits and allows nurses to lay eyes on your patients in real time. They can see what the parents are seeing. In short, it adds a visual component to the triage process.

Virtual nurse triage uses the same Schmitt-Thompson protocols as our standard nurse triage system with audio calls but also elevates the nurse’s ability to triage by adding a visual element.

What Does the Data Say About Virtual Nurse Triage?

In November 2021, Anytime Pediatrics obtained data showing how virtual triage can help practices manage calls and offer subsequent medical advice. Here are some notable findings from our survey.

  • In total, our practices are averaging 23 calls per clinician per month.
  • The number of clinical calls is 18 nurse triage calls per month.
  • Non-clinical calls average about two and a half calls per clinician per month. That’s approximately 11 percent.
  • The number of total referred calls to the ER is only 6 percent — or about one call per clinician per month — which is far below the national average. This is largely because of the visual piece that virtual triage adds to the equation.
  • The total number of calls handled by nurses not requiring the physician to see the patient immediately or within four hours is 88 percent. This means that physicians see only 12 percent of after-hours calls, or less than three calls per clinician per month.

Overall, what do these statistics convey? The numbers prove that patients in practices that are using virtual nurse triage are getting excellent care, and providers are freed up to see patients who truly need face-to-face evaluations. In addition, urgent care and emergency departments referrals are reduced, and we all know how critical it is to decrease that burden on the healthcare system.

What are the Benefits of Virtual Nurse Triage?

Personal Touch

Virtual nurse triage offers a personal touch. It can often be comforting when the parent and patient are able to see the nurse who is providing the guidance.

Accuracy

When the nurses who are assessing patients are able to physically see the symptoms that are concerning parents, they have more confidence. Plus, families trust that they are getting high-quality medical advice.

Reassurance

Virtual triage allows nurses to assess if the child’s caregivers have had all of their questions answered or if they still seem concerned. Parents never have to feel like they’re being difficult or asking too much.

Efficiency

As the need for patient care increases, the availability of resources continues to decrease. Staffing shortages in healthcare are posing serious challenges. There is now, more than ever, a huge need to effectively triage the patients who are calling.

Takeaways About Anytime After Hours Virtual Triage

Anytime After Hours enables physicians to work at the top of their license by allowing an expert team of registered nurses to do the triaging. With this service, physicians are not left triaging patients via virtual visits. When appropriate, patients are routed to your practice’s provider who is on-call for add-on telehealth visits, or they are scheduled for a next-day appointment.

Anytime After Hours is an excellent option that is now available to your practice through Anytime Pediatrics! To learn more, request a consultation today!