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Nurse Triage and After Hours Care

Answers to Five Questions About How to Offer Virtual Nurse Triage

By March 16, 2022May 24th, 2024No Comments

At the start of the pandemic, the healthcare system had to unravel how to continue providing care to patients without contributing to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Prior to this, telemedicine appointments were available in some healthcare settings; however, the use of virtual appointments has become more common ever since. Two years into the pandemic, and virtual care is now as available in healthcare as stethoscopes.

As telemedicine continues to evolve during business hours, it only makes sense for after-hours services to expand. For example, answering services are staffed by individuals who may or may not be licensed professionals to help answer patient concerns. As a result, many calls are routed to you, the provider on-call. Alternatively, your patients may not feel comfortable waiting for a return call and proceed to the emergency room for evaluation. This system allows for patients to receive medical guidance on critical concerns, but it isn’t the most cost-effective or patient-centered method of providing health care.

Here at Anytime Pediatrics, we have combined the best of both worlds to offer virtual nurse triage. This service, called Anytime After Hours, elevates telephone triage to the next level by integrating video. Your patients and/or their parents are connected via video to a registered nurse when they call your after-hours exchange. This allows for parents to have the reassurance of face-to-face conversation with a qualified professional. Virtual nurse triage eliminates unnecessary emergency room and urgent care visits, reducing overall healthcare costs while improving patient care.

You might be wondering, “How do I offer virtual nurse triage in my practice?” We’re glad you asked! Here are the answers to five questions about implementing our Anytime After Hours service.

How Do I Register My Practice for Virtual Nurse Triage?

Connect with Anytime Pediatrics. We can assist with getting your practice set up for virtual nurse triage quickly and easily. Afterward, simply register your practice for virtual nurse triage and complete the onboarding documents. You’ll provide practice demographics and contact information for each provider. We will ask that you confirm the hours you will need Anytime After Hours and the phone numbers to provide to the exchange.

Your practice will also have the option to use standing orders to treat common illnesses such as hives, seasonal allergies, and fever. If your practice would like to utilize these standing orders, we ask each provider to confirm and sign the standing orders and protocols for the nurses to use.

How Does Virtual Nurse Triage Integrate with My Current Practice?

We provide the number to forward your calls to during nurse triage hours. You will need to contact your phone provider to complete this set-up. When a parent calls your office number, the nurses who answer your patients’ calls will do so with a greeting that includes your practice name. This ensures that your patients experience the connection between our triage nurses and your practice.

Furthermore, your practice can set up a second-level triage that allows the nurses to contact you with emergent questions. The onboarding documents include a section where you can determine what is emergent and what the nurses may utilize for second-level triage. Your practice also has the opportunity to include other requests and services from the after-hours exchange that would be beneficial to your providers and patients.

What Will My Patients Experience When They Call After Hours?

When patients call or request a telehealth visit after hours, they will connect with a nurse for triage. If they are calling via phone, they will reach a nurse and discuss the next best steps to care for the patient. One option is to convert the phone call into a video encounter, which helps the nurse better evaluate your patient. For example, they can see how the patient is breathing or what the rash looks like.

Alternatively, parents can directly request an evaluation via telehealth. In this scenario, they will enter the virtual nurse triage waiting room and see a nurse for triage shortly following the visit request. Again, this helps the nurses provide the most accurate assessments and give the most appropriate medical advice for the situation.

How Will My Patients and Their Parents Know How to Utilize Virtual Nurse Triage?

We offer several resources to complement your after-hours service. This includes patient education to help your patients understand how to utilize virtual nurse triage. We offer support that teaches your patients and their parents when virtual nurse triage is available, how to request nurse guidance, what they can expect, and more.

In addition, we provide a landing page that can easily be added to your website with all the pertinent information to educate your patients on this service. If applicable to your practice, we offer social media posts for facilitating communication about the program as well as graphics you may publish on your accounts. Posters with this information are also available to feature in your office, or you may choose to include information in your new patient paperwork.

Is Virtual Nurse Triage Right for My Practice?

Virtual nurse triage in after-hours care is the logical next step in telemedicine. Overall, virtual nurse triage elevates the current medical exchange system by allowing patients to be assessed virtually by licensed professionals, giving them clarity on what is likely happening with your patient.

Virtual nurse triage also provides patients and their parents with high-quality care, utilizing evidence-based recommendations and protocols while keeping patients in the medical home. After-hours care reduces long wait times and high costs of emergency room visits, and your patients have better health outcomes.

Ready to learn more about offering Anytime After Hours? Contact us today to request a consultation for your practice!