Summer time is usually — dare we use the “Q” word — a quieter time of year for the healthcare system. Kids spend less time in school, sitting across the way from their coughing friends, and more time outside, encouraging the slow spread of viruses.
Not so much this year.
While the virulence of COVID-19 strains seems to be weakening, the frequency of overall illness is not. It’s almost like we are making up for two years of masks and social distancing by reintroducing our immune systems to all of the other infections we put on the back burner while COVID ran rampant. We can only imagine that the number of patient calls coming into your practice has done anything but slow down. Many phone calls, coupled with a lot of viruses, increase the demand for appointments and simultaneously decrease the appointment slot availability.
A patient’s symptoms may not warrant an emergent visit, but parents often don’t know that. And waiting 24 to 48 hours (or longer) to have their ill child evaluated can feel unacceptable. Being able to provide timely evaluations for your patients, along with comfort and professional guidance, is crucial to giving excellent patient care. We’ve got a solution to these pain points: Anytime After Hours. In this blog, we’ll explore four ways our after-hours nurse triage solution improves the patient experience.
1. Reduces Time Between Ill Symptoms and Pediatric Follow-up
While many medical journals recognize that 24 to 48 hours is an acceptable time frame to follow up, this amount of time can feel very long and unforgiving for families, particularly those with small children and especially first-time parents. Most likely they will not wait for a return call and will find other means of evaluation, including going to the ER or urgent care.
After-hours care offers the opportunity for families to talk to a highly qualified medical professional in real time. In most cases, they’ll get reassurance that everything is okay. They’ll also receive reliable treatment options that provide relief to their child’s symptoms, and most importantly, a next-day follow-up with the pediatrician. If necessary, they’ll be immediately routed to the on-call doctor, and only in rare cases or true emergencies will the triage nurse recommend the emergency room.
2. Offers Reassurance to Families
When a child is sick, parents want answers as soon as possible. This can be problematic because they work the same hours that your office is typically open. Patients and parents can become frustrated when they finally are able to make a phone call to your office, only to find themselves routed through a phone tree, being asked to leave a message and wait for a return call. If parents decide they’re willing to wait for a return phone call to discuss their child’s symptoms, they are then usually met with another obstacle: Being offered an appointment one to two days later. The longer they wait, many parents grow more anxious, while young patients become more symptomatic.
Anytime After Hours removes the call-back wait times of traditional medical offices and after-hours processes. Registered nurses are available to triage all phone calls through your exchange and can provide immediate assistance to your patients.
3. Provides High-Quality Care from a Trained Medical Professional
After-hours nurse triage pairs healthcare professionals with the traditional medical exchange, thereby elevating the after-hours experience. Your patients will continue to call your after-hours phone number, and instead of speaking with a non-clinical worker, they will be talking with a registered nurse who has at least five years of emergency room experience. These nurses utilize Schmitt-Thompson Protocols to help triage patients’ symptoms in order to provide accurate and safe medical guidance.
Conversations can occur via telephone and are easily converted into a video consultation if the nurse needs to visually assess your patient. Nurses also help patients schedule their follow-up appointments with your office in a timely manner.
4. Keeps Care in the Medical Home
Parents want to talk with someone about their child’s symptoms as quickly as possible, and if they can’t get a hold of you, they will resort to urgent care and emergency rooms. The care they will receive there will be less personalized, more expensive, and still require a follow up in your office within a few days of their discharge.
With Anytime After Hours, the triage nurses keep patients in the medical home, guiding them to the best point of care so they are never left without the next steps and follow-up recommendations. After-hours nurse triage offers thorough assessments to help alleviate parental anxiety associated with sick kids, all while maintaining continuity of care and keeping your patients in their medical home.
Anytime After Hours allows you to provide continuous care even when your office is closed, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. For more information on implementing this nurse triage service into your practice, contact us today!