What is a nurse triage service?

A nurse triage service can be an invaluable service for a doctor's office or a specialized practice. Contrary to popular belief, telephone triage nurses do much more than just answer health questions over the phone.

Telephone triage nurses must be able to assess a client's health concerns without the benefit of face-to-face interaction, or the otherwise "normal" communication we take for granted every day. These nurses must rely on their communication skills and knowledge of disease so that they can gain an accurate understanding of the client's symptoms. Most nurses will tell you that face-to-face interaction with the patient is one of the most valuable assessment tools they use in order to care for their patients, so nurses who are talking to their patients over the phone must be extraordinary communicators.

Triage nurses receive excellent training, and they are well-equipped to assist a patient who is of any age. No matter what the age of the patient is, the specialized health care providers who work in a nurse telephone triage system must have excellent listening skills to notice the non-verbal clues the client is giving regarding pain, anxiety and/or fear. Their specialized service and training allows them to accurately review and assess the severity of the patient's symptoms, and then guide the patient to the appropriate level of care - or at the very least, recommend a more appropriate level of care.

In general, nurse telephone triage calls are handled in a live answering type setting. Symptoms are assessed when the nurse asks questions of the patient, starting with the most serious and/or painful issues, and working down in severity to the least problematic. Using this method, the nurse can determine the patient's health care needs, including the need, when appropriate, for emergency intervention. Thorough and accurate documentation of each call is a standard part of the process. In addition, a meticulous system should employ nurses who are well-trained in HIPAA regulations, so that they can document each call accurately and in a manner that complies with HIPAA regulations.

Using a nurse telephone triage service will give a medical office or practice added capabilities. Your patients will understand that your investment in such a service shows them how much of a commitment you have to their health and well-being. Adding this service will complete any type of standard medical call answering service that a practice already has in place. Your patients will appreciate the fact that they can call your office any time, day or night, and receive excellent care.

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