The U.S. healthcare industry is continually evolving, and keeping pace with changing insurance plans, emerging technologies, and government regulations can be challenging for healthcare providers.
The unsung heroes of the medical world are the nurses who support physicians and provide the majority of personal care for patients. Despite the fact that the number of nurses is rising and is expected to grow 15% by 2024, there is a chronic shortage of nurses
in the U.S. and it is predicted to worsen.
A critical component of the healthcare industry, nurses comprise 82% of patient care staff. In the U.S there are about 4.1 million nurses and 923,300 doctors. Nurses perform a wide array of duties, including administering medications, assisting patients, managing intravenous lines, observing and monitoring patients' conditions, communicating with doctors, and maintaining records.The Triage Nurse
Triage nurses are an important part of the nursing community. With a growing need to optimize staff resources, their accuracy and efficiency is essential. Triage nurses are responsible for responding to patients without appointments who need immediate attention, and they are generally the first point of contact with non-emergency patients. They collect patient information and determine the level and need for medical care.
Responsibilities of a Triage Nurse include:
- Assess patient condition
- Initiate emergency care if necessary
- Provide education to patients and families
- Prioritize patients according to set guidelines
- Communicate status of patients to doctors and nurses
Triage nurses do not diagnose patients, but they do provide care and advise. To do this, the nurse gathers medical history and other pertinent data from the patient.
If these interactions between the triage nurse and patient are not properly documented or there is a communication issue, the healthcare provider can face liability issues. A misunderstanding or a negative patient outcome can lead to malpractice suits against physicians.
Some of the most common types of malpractice claims include:
- Failure to follow care standards
- Failure to communicate
- Failure to document
- Failure to assess and monitor a patient
Proper documentation and handling of records is a high priority for healthcare providers, who must follow ever-changing HIPAA laws that require specific regulations and patient privacy protocols. Current systems are disparate, with some that are manual, and some partly automated and connected. This can open the door to incorrect or incomplete records, poor communication, inability to retrieve and analyze interactions, and legal liabilities.Policy Changes
Improving triage nurse issues begins with changes in management policy. Many healthcare organizations today are re-organizing their call centers and triage nurse systems by implementing nurse health lines that connect medical providers, patients, and emergency responders with a multi-channel network. This allows close coordination between triage nurse call centers and emergency responders, and improved communication with patients and staff.
Along with improved communications, migrating to an integrated software architecture that captures all interaction data between nurses, patients, and other support staff will mitigate any issues of confusion or loss of information. Interaction capture includes metadata (time of the interaction, ID of the nurse, location of the patient, heart monitor data, etc.), so everything about the event can be easily and quickly retrieved if necessary. All data is stored and can be analyzed as needed.
Healthcare organizations that have implemented these systems
have reported improved records management, better patient care, and reduced liability and costs.
If you have thoughts about triage and call center nurses, or data capture and analytics in healthcare, share your thoughts with us
About the Author - Licia Wolf, highly-educated with a Ph.D., is the Marketing and Communications Manager at HigherGround, with background in electronics, internet marketing, and print/imaging technology. Click here for more information on the rest of the HigherGround team!
HigherGround, Inc. provides best-in-class, reliable data capture and interaction storage solutions that enable clients to easily retrieve mission critical information and communications. Our interaction/call recording and incident reconstruction solutions transform data into actionable intelligence, allowing optimization of operations, enhanced performance, and cost reduction.