TriageLogic® released a study they conducted of their telephone nurse triage system during the COVID-19 pandemic that analyzes caller data, protocols used, and general changes in patient behavior to shed light on the efficacy of remote care in the modern medical age.
COVID-19 altered many patients’ perceptions of healthcare. So much of the population was afraid of contracting the virus, and this fear was exacerbated by the potential risk of exposure in a hospital setting. As a result, telephone nurse triage took on a critical role, not only helping patients determine the circumstances under which they should seek emergency treatment, but also slowing the spread of the infection.
TriageLogic already had experience providing homecare advice to patients, scheduling telehealth appointments, and directing emergency cases to the appropriate providers, and these only became more important during the pandemic. To evaluate how those patients’ needs changed, the company reviewed patient demographics, medical conditions, and outcomes reported through their nurse triage call center from January to October of 2020. The resulting data is published in their ebook 2020 Telehealth in Review: Symptoms, Outcomes and COVID.
It supports the assertion that nurse triage and remote care are essential advisors when it comes to directing patients to emergency services or safe and accessible alternatives. Key findings from the study include:
- Women called two to three times more frequently than men, possibly due to OB/GYN patients.
- Gender ratios were roughly the same for pediatric patients.
- More than one-in-four adults who called the nurse triage service required urgent medical attention, yet 86 percent of patients indicated they were not originally planning to go to the ER.
- Women ages 18–45 tended to have more serious symptoms than other adult patients and were 1.5 times as likely to need urgent care than men their age.
- Women were also more likely to underestimate the severity of their symptoms compared to all other patient groups.
- Triage protocols determined that 30 percent of patients who were planning to go to the ER did not actually need urgent care, prompting nurses to advise them on alternative nonemergency options.
- Patients tended to underestimate symptoms that were signs of a serious medical condition, including abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, chest pain, high blood pressure, and COVID diagnosis or exposure.
- Patients were more likely to delay seeking care during the pandemic when compared with data collected prior to COVID.
- Telephone nurse triage has provided a safe and effective way to advise patients on the appropriate levels of care, saving lives and reducing burdens on healthcare systems during the COVID pandemic.
This data has been made available to the medical community at large to provide a transparent understanding of patient conduct and needs as the healthcare industry continues to evolve.
TriageLogic is a URAC-accredited, physician-led provider of top-quality nurse telehealth technology, remote patient monitoring, and medical call center solutions, all for the purpose of encouraging positive patient behavior and improving access to healthcare. Founded in 2007, the TriageLogic Group now serves more than 9,000 physicians and covers over 20 million lives nationwide. They continue to partner with private practices, hospitals, and corporations throughout the United States. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.