Improving Patient Experiences With Nurse Triage Services
We are living an in era where people and patients expect solutions now and providers are expected to be looking at ways of improving patient experiences with nurse triage.
One major change in healthcare the past 5 years is the expectation for immediate answers and responses from healthcare providers. Whether it’s via the telephone, computer or mobile device, healthcare providers have finally caught up with patient expectations and are beginning to see how they can make healthcare better and more effective by improving patient experiences with nurse triage services.
But just offering nurse triage isn’t enough. When implementing nurse triage, healthcare providers need to understand what works and what doesn’t work when improving the patient experience with nurse triage services.
A Good Nurse Triage Service Can Provide The Direction That Drives Patient/Care Giver Decisions
Only the best nurse triage services are staffed by (state specific) licensed registered nurses as the first line of defense for patient calls, and can provide evidence and triage experience-based guidance on whether a patient needs to call 911, visit the ER, needs home care or simply just wants to hear a compassionate voice on the other end to provide clinical guidance.
This guidance a licensed nurse can provide, helps patients and caregivers make the best care decisions reassures them that their needs are being met 24/7. The result is a better patient experience, while also being able to direct patients to the appropriate level of care that doesn’t require 911 or the ER.
Should You Outsource Your Nurse Triage Services?
It’s always difficult to know the best route to go when considering capabilities that seem like they could be provided in-house, especially when you know that there are organizations that have been providing Nurse Triage services to top organizations for over ten years with HIPAA complaint environments, stellar patient experience, and unmatched SLAs for both the provider and patient.
What should you consider if you want to build an in house operation?
- Know that building a contact center is not a core capability of healthcare providers. So why even go down that path?
- You will need to either build or buy HIPAA compliant, cloud based, communication technology for taking calls.
- You will need to either rent space or create it to house your staff.
- You will need to hire licensed nurses with triage experience.
- You will need to hire managers, IT and comms experts, as well as a general manager to run the business side of the center.
- You will need to train all of your new staff including non-clinicians.
- You will need to develop reporting capabilities.
These are just the beginning stages of starting a triage contact center and all of this can take months to start even longer to get it right. While you are building and perfection keep in mind that your patient experiences are continuing to decline and will be amplified for months while you build and roll out the triage contact center.
In contrast, working with the right partner enables providers to offer nurse triage services to their patients in a shorter amount of time and for lest cost then building the center and team scratch.
How to select the right partner
The number one criteria for selecting a Nurse Triage Service partner is experience. Often times general medical call centers looking to expand their footprint will offer nurse triage services without understanding the regulations, licensing restrictions and complexities of nurse triage. There are also those pop-up Nurse Triage Services that may start by offering services in one state but think that after 1 year of service for a few clients they are capable of offering triage nationwide but are sorely understaffed and don’t realize they are lacking the needed infrastructure of nurses and technology to service patients across different time zones. Both of these approaches create risk, from poor service and care advice that negatively affects the health of patients to subpar technology infrastructure and systems that don’t meet HIPAA standards.
Only the best Nurse Triage Services can:
Provide Licensed Nurse Triage and Clinical Expertise – Don’t be fooled by low pricing. No matter how attractive the pricing may be or how many promises are made around patient experience or SLAs, you have to ensure that only Licensed Nurses are engaging with your patients to provide the best clinical expertise. Patients want to speak with a licensed nurse rather than someone who is following a script and has no clinical training. Patients need advice from licensed nurse professionals who can provide clinical guidance and not frustrate or confuse patients. Before agreeing to go with any nurse triage provider, insist on viewing their hiring guidelines and nurse profiles as well as how their nurse to client (call) ratio and what they plan to do for you if your wait times or clinical interactions are not what your patients expect. If they do not provide you this visibility, that should be a huge red flag.
Create and earn the trust of their clients – Is the vendor you are considering able to provide you references from clients with similar patient count, call volume and in the same state as you? If not, you should be weary. This only provides proof that they are not willing to get you in front of their clients who may not have nice things to say. Their clients must be able to share their trust in the expertise of their staff, trust in their nursing abilities, trust that they are going to staff and provide up time guarantees that you would expect from your own nurses.
Provide complete transparency – Regular status updates and reports are important, but the real key is having transparency into the nurse triage service’s operation so you can check at any time to ensure technology, nurse teams assigned to your patients and protocols and clinical directives are up to your standards. We often times hear from customers and prospects that other, smaller, regional, new companies trying to undercut on price are all saying the right things but when it comes to delivering they cannot compete with more established service providers because they cannot afford to assign teams of nurses to clients (rather they use a small number of nurses to services all clients which leads to long hold times, missed calls and service failures). This type of bait and switch happens all the time. We see it in car salesmen and we see it with less experienced and cheaper priced nurse triage services who are offering ‘unbelievable pricing’ while claiming to offer the same services as the more preferred, experienced providers, like: guaranteed answer times of less than 60 seconds (with data to prove it), customized protocols to the provider (with software to show it and allow for customization), different models to offer, processing referrals, reference-able client base, and a dedicated team based approach that doesn’t allow for your nurses to take calls for any other clients.
Provide a process for constant improvement both in nurse triage and your case management – It’s easy to fall into a pattern of meeting minimum standards. But customer satisfaction is driven on excellence. The partner should always be looking for ways to improve quality, reduce costs and improve the patient experience. It is imperative that your Nurse Triage Partner provide feedback to not only improve the triage at night and on weekends but also during the day as well with suggestions for case management and patient engagement.
Implementing a nurse triage service can help providers address many needs while allowing the provider to manage patients more effectively, improving revenue, building a more positive reputation and driving down costs. But choosing the right partner with the best systems, experience, SLA’s and reputation in the market is going to be the key to success. Remember, don’t be fooled by the LOW COST PROVIDER, they can never deliver the same quality and performance as the more expiereced provider. At the end of the day your patients deserve the best possible experience you can provide.
If you have ever wanted to learn more about how a true Nurse Triage Service should be delivered, contact us today to learn more.