Tag Archives: TriageLogic

How Triage Nurses Can Help Patients with Mental Health Conditions


TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja

Telephone triage nurses have a more important role than ever before. Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016), which is why many adults with mental illnesses go untreated (60 percent according to a report from USA Today). This article addresses the growing concerns for mental health awareness and education.

Telephone triage nurses are often the first point of contact for those struggling with a mental illness and can help a patient recognize the need for intervention. So, what can telephone triage nurses do to help?

Provide Accurate and Timely Triage

Telephone triage nurses are often the first point of contact for a patient with mental health symptoms and as a result, nurses should be patient, flexible, and have great communication and listening skills. The nurse must combine both clinical judgment and emotional connections to assess the patient’s situation to identify possible mental health issues. The telephone triage nurse’s role is to obtain the most accurate medical history and assessment to rule out medical symptoms that require immediate attention.

Remove Biases That Can Impact the Triage Process

Good telephone triage nurses always remove any biases and stereotypes. Having preconceived notions and distinctive sets of thinking can lead to error in the treatment of patients.

Assess the Environment

The Emergency Nurses Association recommends treating patient agitation as if it’s “the chest pain of behavioral emergencies.” Key phrases such as “I understand” can help place a patient at ease and give them the space to talk to the nurse. Throughout the call, the nurse should assess the patient’s environment and resources available to determine the most appropriate care plan.

Manage Uncertainty

Not all patients will be able to accurately describe their condition, history, medical conditions, or other pertinent information. It is up to the nurse to decipher this uncertainty.

  • Assess the situation: How is the patient presenting? Is his or her speech coherent? Are they answering questions appropriately? Hallucinating? Delusional? Rambling?
  • Address the whole patient: One common occurrence within mental health care is “diagnostic overshadowing.” This happens when the focus on a patient’s mental health diagnosis overshadows their physical health needs.
  • Be an advocate: Triage nurses are the first to communicate with, provide support to, and manage patients with psychiatric or mental health issues. Acting as a patient’s initial advocate can be life-changing for that patient

In Conclusion

Triage nurses always have the callers’ safety in mind. They combine both clinical judgment and emotional connections to assess the patient’s situation and to identify possible mental health issues. Nurses need to know the local emergency assistance numbers in case they need to reach out for more assistance. Just talking about their problems for a length of time can help a great deal for many callers who might be suffering from a mental illness.

TriageLogic

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive triage solution includes integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 7,000 physicians and covers over 18 million lives nationwide. For more information visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com.

Using Device Data and Nurse Triage to Improve VA Healthcare


TriageLogic

By Ravi Raheja

New technologies are transforming how clinicians deliver healthcare. At the same time, digital solutions alone are not enough to help patients. Incorporating some human component increases patient compliance and education, further reducing healthcare costs. Medical call centers should be adopting software and increasing the role of triage nurses to complement traditional care settings, such as the VA. 

Device Data

For example, digital diabetes prevention and treatment platforms connect users with support communities and health coaches who can remotely monitor chronic conditions such as weight, blood sugar, diet, and medicine intake. Thresholds and alerts can be set up to alert healthcare providers about abnormal and potentially abnormal or dangerous values. While the devices can collect and transmit data and even have a certain threshold, a medical professional still needs to interpret the data and then direct patients about the next steps based on the data and in the context of their symptoms and current health status.

Telephone Triage

Telephone triage nurses play a vital role in interpreting the data and providing appropriate follow up for patients who use these technologies. They act as the first line of screening when an alert or abnormal value is reported. They have the training to talk to patients, assess their symptoms, and determine the next best steps based on combining the data with the full patient assessment over the phone.

To assess patients and direct them appropriately, the nurses need triage protocols. Most medical call centers use the gold standard protocols from Schmitt-Thompson to assess symptoms. Call centers should also incorporate robust protocol builders, a technology that enables an organization to modify existing protocols to meet their needs and create new protocols when required.

Custom Protocols

By using custom-developed protocols, triage nurses can assess a patient using the data received from devices with appropriate next steps for medical care. As a result, triage nurses play a significant role in this new digital era, driven by value-based care. By combining the data from devices and other sources with innovative triage technology, triage nurses can act as the bridge between patients and providers. This creates a viable monitoring solution that provides cost-effective care.

In conjunction with the custom protocols, organizations should use platforms to put in custom workflows. As an example, once a nurse has determined the appropriate level of care, they can now further direct the patient to specific care locations, referral numbers, or provide handouts via text or email. This allows the triage nurse to serve as an effective first point of contact and get the patients to the appropriate next steps on the first call.

Mobile App

Finally, look for companies that can provide an optional mobile app to enable patients to take advantage of increased self-service, access to customized resources, and insight into their own information.

Summary

Technology is changing the access, monitoring and delivery of healthcare. Value-based solutions are now possible to optimize patient care and decrease healthcare expenses.

Call center solutions that incorporate effective communication using telephone triage nurses, coupled with valuable wearable device data, will be able to greatly improve the level of VA healthcare services for veterans and their families.   

TriageLogic

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive triage solution includes integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 7,000 physicians and covers over 18 million lives nationwide. For more information visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com.

Oklahoma Medical Center Provides Innovative Triage Line to Manage Hospital Overcrowding


TriageLogic

An Effective Approach to ER Phone Calls

Dr. Charu Raheja

Emergency Room (ER) overcrowding is widespread in hospitals, creating delays and diversion from those who need care the most. According to a recent article, “Compounding the problem is the alarming trend of a decreasing number of ERs and an increasing number of ER visits.”

All too often, injury or illness appears without warning for patients. For hospitals trying to control overcrowding, the obvious solution is to redirect patients who don’t need to be in the ER to more appropriate paths for care. Who then determines if it’s necessary for a patient to go the ER? Most people aren’t trained medical professionals, and as a result, they worry and end up in the ER for non-urgent symptoms.

Having the reassurance of a triage nurse could help decrease the number of people in the ER for non-emergency reasons. Click To Tweet

Patients faced with uncertainty about where to go, all too often, end up calling the ER department and receive a standard response: “We are not allowed to give advice over the phone. If you think you have an emergency, please hang up and call 911. If you think you need to see someone, you can come to the emergency room or call your doctor.”

So, who do you call?

Telephone Triage

One hospital in Oklahoma, with a similar issue, wanted to change this process. What if they provided a nurse triage line that would be available to receive calls from the patients calling the ER? Having the reassurance of a triage nurse could help decrease the number of people in the ER for non-emergency reasons.

This would provide patients with quick and easy access to a trained medical professional to assist in determining the appropriate next steps based on their symptoms and medical history. Also, since the nurses work independently from the hospital system, the nurses would provide an objective opinion increasing patient trust.

Results

The results were inspiring. The nurses significantly decreased unnecessary emergency room visits. A random survey of about 520 patients uncovered their plans before talking to a nurse. This helped determine the effectiveness of the system.

Out of 240 patients who were planning to go to the ER, 42 percent of them were diverted to a lower level of care, including 17 percent that received home care needing no additional follow up actions. This translated into a savings of at least 215,000 dollars in unnecessary ER visits, not to mention providing peace of mind for patients being able to stay home and rest.

Better Health Outcomes

The benefits didn’t just stop at ER costs savings. Consider the patients who called into the nurse triage line and were not intending to go to the ER. Some medical conditions are considered emergencies because they require rapid or advanced treatments.

Surprisingly, close to 20 percent of the patients who called into the nurse triage line had symptoms that were serious enough to warrant a visit to the ER. Without the nurse line, the outcomes for these patients could have been life threatening or fatal.

Conclusion

While nurse triage has shown significant effectiveness in an outpatient setting, this preliminary data shows even greater promise to expand this model to emergency rooms around the country.

Providing local communities with a nurse triage program not only prevents unnecessary ER visits and saves on healthcare costs, but it also ensures patients get appropriate care when a serious symptom arises. For the hospital, this increases goodwill in the community while addressing the overcrowding of the ER: a win-win all around.

TriageLogic

Dr. Charu Raheja is the co-founder and CEO of the Triage Logic Group. Charu’s personal struggles and triumphs with her health define both her personal and her professional mission. Most recently, her experience in overcoming a life-threatening health event led her to launch the Continuwell brand. The TriageLogic Group provides telehealth software, mobile communication solutions, and services to large medical centers and businesses around the country. It is part of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and it covers over 25 million lives nationwide. Visit www.TriageLogic.com or contact Amy Smith at 888-TEAMTLC for more information.

Software to Triage and Document Patient Calls Updated with Detailed Reporting Capabilities and Custom Orders

TriageLogic introduced the latest version of MyTriageChecklist®, a daytime telephone nurse triage software to triage and document patient phone calls. This upgrade includes new features with data analytics reports and the ability for providers to customize the care instructions their nurses give during triage calls.

MyTriageChecklist now includes the ability to create custom reports. The new analytics feature allows practices to easily evaluate and monitor their clinical patient phone calls. They can see in real time the results of patient calls, including protocols used, disposition, and outcomes.

Another feature of the new myTriageChecklist is the ability to create custom orders. With this technology, once the nurse has determined the appropriate level of care, they can follow tailored instructions based on physician or practice preferences. For example, some doctors prefer their patients use specific brands of medications when appropriate. Other examples include a specific urgent care center or ER to go to if patients need immediate treatment. This option allows the nurse to help patients without having to consult with the doctor on every call. Highlights include:

  • Nurse triage protocols from Schmitt-Thompson, daytime and after-hours
  • Fast, efficient point and click interface
  • Medication dosage charts: click to add to triage documentation
  • Email/text handouts and encounter specific care advice to callers
  • Smart copy and paste to EMR
  • Preconfigured to work seamlessly inside Salesforce

Training to use the myTriageChecklist telephone triage software takes thirty minutes or less. A nurse manager gives personalized training for every group that signs up. The software is web based, meaning that no hardware or IT support is needed. These new features make it easy for any organization to set up and maintain a quality clinical call program.

TriageLogicFounded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of quality services and software for telehealth. They integrate communication solutions with medical expertise based on practical experience and a thorough understanding of the field. TriageLogic is a leading provider of triage technology, mobile applications, and call center solutions. The TriageLogic group serves physicians nationwide and covers millions of lives. With over ten years of experience and six customizable products, TriageLogic continues to partner with private practices, hospitals, and corporations throughout the U.S. Visit www.triagelogic.com for more information

TriageLogic Recognized as Fast Growth Company

TriageLogic has been selected as one of Jacksonville’s Fast 50. TriageLogic experienced high growth by providing innovative products, outstanding service, and expertise at an affordable price. TriageLogic employees attended the reception to honor all Fast 50 businesses on July 20 in Jacksonville.

“Our strength has been the ability to recognize the challenges customers face and develop products to solve those challenges,” said CEO Charu Raheja. “When a client comes to us with a challenge they are trying to solve, we usually have a solution already available for their particular case.” Charu continues, “Our team spirit is one of constant innovation where the customer comes first.”

The corporate environment and healthcare industry both face pressure to keep their employees engaged, healthy, and happy, all while increasing productivity and decreasing healthcare costs. TriageLogic products focus on convenience, communication, and wellness, which created a large opportunity. Their growth is a combination of being in the market at the right time, as well as seeing a need and building innovative products to meet those needs.

TriageLogic is always evolving and looking for ways to develop services and products to improve the efficiency of providers and nurses and enhance the experience for patients. With that in mind they developed new features for their daytime office software, MyTriageChecklist.

They are also creating a new data report feature for their call center software and a customizable mobile app platform for providers and patients. They understand the industry is always evolving, so their team is always looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve to provide clients with the best software and services in the industry.

TriageLogicIn addition, and as previously announced, Charu Raheja, Ph.D. has been awarded as one of the 2017 Women of Influence. Charu will be presented with this honor at the 14th Annual Women of Influence Awards on August 22.

Use a Customized Follow-Up Plan to Reduce Hospital Readmissions


TriageLogic


By Dr. Ravi Raheja

When patients get discharged after a hospital visit, it can be difficult for them to follow or remember discharge instructions. This can lead to higher readmission rates, longer recovery times, and overall lower quality of patient satisfaction.

Did you know?

  • Up to 20 percent of patients are readmitted within thirty days.
  • There is the potential to save 12 billion dollars on readmissions.
  • Hospitals could lose as much as 528 million dollars from Medicare cuts.

Why Hospital Readmissions Occur: A common cause for readmissions is poor follow-up by patients after the procedure. The stress and difficulty faced by patients during their hospital stay makes it common for them to forget or misunderstand the instructions given by providers during the patients’ hospital discharge. Often, patients go home confused about their medication orders, fail to follow the treatment plan, or neglect to follow up with a doctor visit in a reasonable time.

Family members may be able to help patients follow discharge instructions, but they are often distracted because of the hospitalization or not able to help with the patient discharge plan once they go home.

Offer patients customized continued care after patient discharge to:

  • Decrease ER readmission rates.
  • Ensure continuity of care.
  • Increase patient satisfaction.
  • Help patients avoid unnecessary ER visits.
  • Increase patient compliance with instructions.

Nurses trained specifically for post-op care can help a hospital reduce readmissions by creating a customized follow-up plan to keep patients on the correct path to recovery. A hospital staff member will fax the post discharge nurse the instructions from the hospital EMR for patients who have been discharged and are at risk for readmission. The nurses will make follow-up calls to confirm compliance with medications and screen for necessary follow up visits. If needed, nurses can also be available 24/7 for patients to call if a symptom arises. These calls can be customized to what doctors think will work best and can be adjusted at any time.A common cause for readmissions is poor follow-up by patients Click To Tweet

The ideal program allows each specialty in the hospital to have its own custom profile, so that each specialty can include custom instructions for the nurses to follow related to the care for specific procedures and specialties. Advanced follow-up systems can even create custom protocols to allow nurses to ask specific and related screening questions. Some examples of these screening questions include:

Medication Compliance

  • Did you get medicines?
  • Do you know how to take them?
  • Are you taking them?
  • Do you have any concerns about taking the medicine?

Follow-up

  • When do you have an appointment scheduled?
  • Are you able to keep that appointment?

Symptom Review

  • Do you know what signs or symptoms to look out for?
  • Do you know what number to call if you have a medical concern?
  • Do you have any questions you would like me to pass on to your doctor?
  • Do you have any symptoms you are concerned about right now?

Following a holistic post-discharge protocol can reduce readmission rates, shorten recovery times, and improve patient satisfaction.

TriageLogicDr. Ravi Raheja, is the medical director at TriageLogic, which uses innovative technology to offer a comprehensive and customizable post-discharge system. In addition to the customizable post discharge plan above, TriageLogic nurses also remain available for patients 24/7 should any symptoms or questions arise. If your hospital is looking to reduce patient readmission rates, contact TriageLogic to get a quote on post discharge follow-up service.

TriageLogic CEO Honored at Enterprising Women of the Year

TriageLogic CEO, Charu Raheja, PhD, was honored at the Enterprising Women of the Year Awards. The Enterprising Women of the Year Awards is a prestigious recognition program for women business owners.

To win this award, Dr. Raheja demonstrated she has a fast-growth business, actively supports other women and girls involved in entrepreneurship, and stands out as a leader in her community. She exhibits each of these qualifiers in the success of TriageLogic and the launch of Continuwell, as well as her work with Community Health Charities and various charitable commitments and donations in her community.

Dr. Raheja was recognized April 2 at the 15th Annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration & Conference. Enterprising Women is the nation’s only women-owned magazine published exclusively for women business owners that chronicles the growing political, economic, and social influence and power of entrepreneurial women.

“The recipients of the 2017 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards represent an amazing group of women entrepreneurs from across the United States and as far away as The Netherlands, South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Canada,” said Monica Smiley, publisher and CEO of Enterprising Women. “We could not be more proud to recognize their accomplishments as CEOs of fast-growth companies, community leaders, and role models and mentors to other women and girls. We look forward to shining the spotlight on them at our fifteenth annual awards event in April.”

TriageLogic was also recently certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise and a Women Owned Small Business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of the businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S.

TriageLogic“We are excited to have TriageLogic recognized for its diversity and look forward to many new partnerships to help triage patients and ensure appropriate care for their symptoms,” said Dr. Raheja. “Now that TriageLogic is WBENC certified, we have the ability to compete for business opportunities provided by WBENC Corporate Members and government agencies looking to increase the diversity of their vendors.”

Visit www.triagelogic.com for more information.

 

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TriageLogic Announces Continuwell

Innovative Nurse-First Model to Improve Telehealth

TriageLogic Management and Consulting, LLC, announces the launch of Continuwell®, a new telehealth product for businesses and organizations to decrease employee healthcare expenses and reduce employee sick days. This service is designed to complement and enhance existing wellness or telemedicine offerings already in place or as a turnkey solution.

You take care of your patients, but who takes care of your staff? When your patients have a medical issue arise, they call your office or triage line to evaluate their symptoms and get professional advice on what steps to take next. Why not extend triage services to your staff by making Continuwell part of your employee benefits package?

Continuwell is a telephone healthcare service with a network of experienced registered nurses and doctors. Continuwell provides 24/7 on demand nurses and doctors to evaluate employees or members and determine appropriate care for their symptoms.

Continuwell differentiates itself with its nurse-first model, where nurses use doctor-written guided protocols to evaluate callers and determine the care needed to resolve their symptoms. Our nurses are able to provide the necessary care without the need of a doctor in three out of four cases, saving the cost of a telehealth doctor visit and making the system affordable for employers and employees:

  • Members enter their symptoms using either a mobile application or website portal.
  • A registered nurse calls back within minutes.
  • The nurse evaluates their symptoms and helps them with the next steps.

Continuwell is always available to help your staff get back on their feet, no matter the symptom. Continuwell nurses are an objective resource that employees can use to discuss symptoms they may not want to discuss with colleagues.

Telehealth doctors are available in the event a prescription or further treatment is needed. Our medical professionals reduce employee sick days and get people back to their normal activities sooner. Therefore, your staff can return to taking care of patients faster.

We help people decide when they really need to go to the ER, and when it is okay to stay at work. Our solution is a trusted alternative to ER or urgent care visits and prevents oversight of serious warning signs. Not only are we HIPAA compliant, we are also independent of health insurance companies.

TriageLogicContinuwell is affordable healthcare that gives employees or members peace of mind.

For more information on Continuwell or if you would like this service for your staff, call 844-258-4325 or email info@continuwell.com.

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The Telephone Triage Handbook

The TriageLogic group released their new e-book, The Telephone Triage Handbook: A Convenient Guide for Providers, written by Charu G. Raheja, PhD.

This book shares telemedicine innovations, relevant data and benefits of telephone nurse triage, and insights from a pool of expert leadership at the TriageLogic Group, which has taken over one million telephone triage calls in the last ten years. Call center managers and providers will learn what nurse triage is, how it works, and understand how to best utilize nurse triage in individual practices and call centers. The book provides many practical action steps for healthcare professionals including: How to evaluate your call center platform; how to select the best nurse triage system; how to use telephone nurse triage to improve patient satisfaction; and how to reduce cost while providing the highest-level patient care.

The handbook is available in the Amazon and Kindle stores for a minimal cost of $0.99, and is available for free PDF download from Triagelogic.com. “I am very excited about this e-book as I think it provides a high quality resource to providers and managers,” says Ravi Raheja, MD and medical director of TriageLogic, LLC, “This is an easy to read, practical guide for setting up a telephone triage resource.”

TriageLogicThe Telephone Triage Handbook is the first of several e-books from TriageLogic. “Education is an important goal of our company. We are using my background in teaching and finance along with the wealth of knowledge from our physicians and nurses to write books and blogs to help advance the field of telephone triage,” says Charu G. Raheja.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for AnswerStat magazine, a medical healthcare publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

TriageLogic Releases 2015 Pediatric Office Hours Protocol Update

TriageLogic updated MyTriageChecklist™, which incorporates Barton-Schmitt Pediatric Office-Hours Telephone Triage Protocols. This update adds fifty new protocols to ensure comprehensive symptom coverage and standard of care for any office that handles patient phone calls. The new protocols include a wide variety of symptoms associated with issues such as anxiety, ear piercing, and the Ebola protocols, which were originally released during the outbreak of 2014. Clients who use MyTriageChecklist always have easy access to updated triage protocols in an electronic format that can be used with any other electronic medical system.

A service provided to all MyTriageChecklist clients is comprehensive training and access to an experienced triage nurse. All clients have the option to attend free weekly training sessions, where a registered nurse with triage experience explains how to use the software, as well as answers questions. As practices hire new nurses, they can attend these sessions, learn how to triage safely in a clinical setting, and apply the content to their practice. This is supplemented by their free telephone triage online learning center, which has comprehensive material for both new and experienced triage nurses.

“At TriageLogic, we believe providing the standard of care in all aspects of a practice is of the utmost priority. With the proper protocols and training available, nurses can make good decisions when they are on the phone,” says Dr. Ravi Raheja, MD and medical director of TriageLogic™.

TriageLogic“Clients appreciate our training because it helps them to learn how to use the protocols and implement them in their offices. New nurses coming on at client practices can also sit in on trainings, so it alleviates the provider of extra training responsibilities,” adds Rose Moon, RN and Staff trainer for TriageLogic.

[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for AnswerStat magazine, a medical healthcare publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]