PROBLEM – Opportunity to Improve Access to Recovery
The changing environment of health care has presented unique and challenging access barriers. There has been a shift from an RN presence in physician practices to unlicensed assistive professionals. There’s also been a transition of schedulers to a centralized location. Although a cost-effective and efficient solution, this leaves limited options for the patient to reach a licensed professional in a timely manner.
To ensure patient safety and increase access at the right time in the most appropriate setting, we identified the need for timely triage. This service would lower stress and improve the retention of schedulers who were often faced with patient issues that they aren’t trained to manage. It would also support providers to make sure patients were directed to the appropriate level of care in a timely manner to improve provider satisfaction.
Bon Secours Mercy Health Physicians partnered with Conduit Health Partners to provide a nurse triage service by phone. Our providers developed a red flag list to help schedulers identify when a caller should be triaged. Once connected to nurse triage, the registered nurse completes an assessment based upon the patient’s symptoms. Using decision support tools and clinical judgment, the nurse makes a recommendation for the next steps. Documentation is sent to the provider electronically and the patient is scheduled for an appointment at the recommended time or is referred to a higher level of care. The process has been repeated across other regions and service lines. We have effectively increased patient access and improved patient safety.
Nurse triage increases patient access to clinical staff and decreases the demands of the frontline teams. It also ensures the patient is referred to the right care and the right time in the right setting. The result has been increased patient safety and satisfaction, as well as improved provider satisfaction
“As we continue to work in a challenging and changing health care environment, we are faced with clinical and financial changes that test the historical way we care for our patients. Nurse triage ensures timely access to a licensed health care professional. It increases the patient care team in a clinically and financially responsible way. Nurse triage by phone allows for economy of scale, and efficient utilization of our RN resources while still meeting the needs of our patients”Susan Mell, MSN, RN
Former System Director of Access, Bon Secours Mercy Health Physicians