Cheryl Dalton-Norman, president of Conduit Health Partners, recently talked with Mark Hagland, editor-in-chief of Healthcare Innovation, to discuss social determinants of health and population health. In this fireside chat, “The Power of Nurse Triage to Reduce Health Disparities and Drive Proactive, Impactful Care,” Cheryl discussed how Conduit’s Nurse-First triage solutions can help reduce health care disparities.
Founded to improve access to care, Conduit Health Partners’ nurse-first model of care is instrumental in helping health systems address not only after-hours care resources but also social determinants such as education, access to quality care, and socioeconomic status. This model enables patients to connect with a registered nurse, answering their concerns effectively during the initial call. Cheryl emphasized the significance of the nurse-first model, highlighting that people feel respected when their concerns are addressed on the first call.
Engaging with a nurse first streamlines the process for patients to determine the level of care needed, saving them both time and money. The accessibility of the service from any location, irrespective of the situation or socioeconomic status, contributes to enhanced patient satisfaction and combats social determinants of health. This model often facilitates establishing a long-term care relationship between the patient and a provider.
Cheryl highlighted Conduit’s commitment to helping all individuals without considering financial status, residence, religion, skin color, or language spoken. The organization believes in offering round-the-clock access to care, recognizing it as a fundamental necessity.
Addressing social determinants of health is crucial in realizing health system goals related to equity, patient outcomes, and cost reduction. Cheryl identified a key challenge faced by health systems—insufficient usable data to comprehend the challenges and issues patients encounter and understand the dynamics within their communities. Providing actionable data to clients is essential for fostering significant and sustainable change.
Cheryl also elaborated on the components of a successful nurse triage program, emphasizing the importance of a robust quality program, evidence-based systematic processes, and a compassionate approach. Tracking outcomes and sharing them with partners is crucial for collaborative efforts to improve community health, making a successful nurse-triage program an effective tool against social determinants of health.
The nurse-first model also supports operational efficiency and staffing issues that health systems may experience. By hiring registered nurses nationally, Conduit ensures a hands-on approach in local communities while remote nurses efficiently triage patients, significantly managing the nurse shortage. Health providers utilizing the nurse-triage model can anticipate a reduction in emergency department admissions for low-acuity illnesses.