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Nurse Triage and After Hours Care

Not All After-Hours Services Are the Same: Why You Should Have a Quality Virtual Nurse Triage System

Did you know that not all medical exchanges are created equal? If you’re still using a standard medical exchange model, your practice is relying on impersonal, national call centers to handle patient call volumes when your office is closed.

Imagine this scenario: A frantic parent is desperate to speak to a pediatric provider about their child’s symptoms in the middle of the night. When they call your office’s number, the last thing they want to do is wait an unknown amount of time for a call back. There’s also the potential frustration that occurs when your return call goes to the parent’s voicemail because they do not recognize the callback number. This incessant phone tag can lead parents to giving up and rushing their child with a run-of-the-mill cold virus to the emergency room. And, hospitals do not need the additional burden of evaluating patients who can receive symptomatic treatment at home.

Through this example, you can see that traditional medical exchanges inherently reduce the connection between you and your patients. However, using an after-hours service with triage nurses who can differentiate between callers who need to be evaluated in an emergent setting versus those who can be treated, or simply reassured, at home is an essential aspect to having a quality after-hours service.

Our Anytime After Hours platform offers a solution that improves patient care and increases patient satisfaction, all while reducing unnecessary and burdensome emergency room visits. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of after-hours care and why it’s better than the outdated medical exchange model.

How Can Anytime After Hours Improve Patient Care?

Did you know more than 80 percent of after-hours pediatric calls are made based on parental worry and do not need hands-on care? Parents who call an after-hours exchange are concerned about their children and looking for guidance.

Anytime After Hours features a virtual nurse triage platform that allows those calling your medical exchange to speak with a licensed professional and have their concerns addressed in real time. The nurses utilize standardized protocols so that their guidance is consistent and appropriate for every patient. It’s rare that your patient or their parents will have to leave a message for a return call — even during times of high call volumes.

Who Triages After-Hours Phone Calls?

Our after-hours services are staffed by on-call registered nurses with at least five years of emergency room experience. They are well versed in appropriate telephone triage protocols and are able to convert telephone triage into a video call, when needed, to better assess your patients.

As we navigate cold and flu season, call volumes are bound to increase. Anytime After Hours is able to accommodate an increased quantity of patient calls by adding more registered nurses to the platform. A mere 13 percent of callers are directed to voicemail during high call volume times, versus the traditional medical exchange model where every call is taken as a message. In addition, phone calls are never rolled over to the physician without first being triaged by a registered nurse. The protocols that our nurses use ensure your patients get consistent medical advice. You can rest easy knowing that your patients are receiving the advice they need when your office is closed.

What’s the Process for Evaluating Patients During After-Hours Calls?

There are instances when a patient or parent is calling with what they perceive to be a medical emergency, but the situation may actually be better managed at home. Our registered nurses utilize the universally approved Schmitt-Thompson protocols to triage patients. They can evaluate children by telephone or video when needed. Using these standards keeps medical advice consistent and appropriate, even when evaluating a variety of symptoms.

If the nurse recommends a next-day appointment, the Anytime After Hours system allows the triage team to access your scheduling preferences. Our platform can help you customize your hours and schedule the type of visits you deem appropriate to be completed virtually. Your patients will never be disconnected from a phone call without being given an appropriate treatment plan.

What Other Benefits Are There to Anytime After Hours?

When a registered nurse is able to provide safe and accurate medical guidance, your patient stays in their medical home. This helps to reduce the overall transmission of viruses and thereby decreases the number of gratuitous emergency room and urgent care visits. Merely 5 percent of patients are referred to the emergency department after speaking with Anytime After Hours nurses, versus the 14 percent referral rate for average call centers.

Anytime After Hours keeps your families connected to your pediatric practice, streamlines patient care, and increases patient satisfaction. Virtual care is not only a service that can complement your daytime appointments, but it can also enhance your after-hours exchange.

Are you ready to learn more about implementing Anytime After Hours into your pediatric practice? Contact us today to request a consultation!