Busy hospice providers need reliable after-hours care that doesn’t put extra demands on already overworked staff. That care also has to fit seamlessly with your operational protocols so there is no disruption to the quality or continuity of care given to patients and their families.
There are several different types of after-hours telephone triage from non-clinical answering services, answering services staffed by LPN’s to professionally staffed services with hospice-trained RN’s.
Hospice Telephone Triage: What After-Hours Services Do They Offer?
When considering what type of telephone triage service is best for your organization, there five key issues to consider.
#1 Who’s Answering the Call?
Who answers after-hours calls has a great effect on patient experience so it’s important to understand the variety of options available. Traditional answering services are staffed with non-professionals who lack clinical expertise. They simply answer calls and convey messages. Other organizations use members of staff to work on-call shifts. Some professional after-hours telephone triage services use LPN’s. Others use only RN’s to triage after-hours calls. When considering a professionally staffed service, make sure you find out which–LPN or RN–is answering the call.
#2 How Effective Is The Triage?
The drawback with using a traditional non-clinical answering services is, if they have long call wait times and then are unable to offer any information, patients and families can end up feeling frustrated. An LPN answering a call can respond to questions, but may not have the experience necessary to effectively triage the call. If you choose a telephone triage staffed with licensed RN’s, they will be more effective in resolving non-emergent issues and reducing unnecessary hospitalizations.
#3 Quality Care
Using non-clinical answering services or LPN’s with less experience, can lead to slow responses or the inability to answer questions. This could lead to unhappy customers and a compromised level of service, which can show up in your patient satisfaction scores. Choosing a service staffed by RN’s can offer a higher quality of care, more effective triage and less dependence on already-overburdened staff.
#4 Efficient Staffing
The financial pressures in the healthcare industry are forcing hospice administrators to look at the efficiency of their staffing. Hospice administrators and managers need the flexibility to add or reduce staff to more closely fit changes in demand and census numbers. Telephone triage services offer scalable solutions, which can be more cost-effective than full-time staff shiftwork. Outsourcing after-hours care can also protect your staff from the burnout that can lead to a staffing crisis.
#5 Reliable Records
After-hours services vary widely on the type of documentation they can provide for after-hours calls. Choose a service that creates detailed call recordings and documentation that can integrate with your existing EHR platform. This will ensure seamless communication and continuity of care.
There are many telephone triage services to choose from. Understanding the differences will help you find a service that provides seamless continuity of care and protect staff from the burnout.
Finding after-hours support is easier than you think. See how AfterHours Triage can extend your services without extending your staff, contact us or call 888-260-8460.