Afterhours triage provides a unique service during time periods in which patients and caregivers may feel especially vulnerable. Studies have revealed that while the majority of patients and caregivers find comfort in discussing their concerns over the phone with a nurse, they are often hesitant to use afterhours call services because of the perception that they are a disturbance so late in the evening, over the weekend, or during a holiday.

As a result, triage nurses have the acute responsibility of assuaging the concerns of patients and caregivers who may feel at their most helpless and isolated. Their ability to provide compassionate care during this time is paramount. Prepare your nurses for the task with informed, statistically-founded training. This starts with tracking call types.

Why Track Call Types?

When providing afterhours triage services, it is imperative to track call types. Why? Because while call volume and length are important metrics to consider as you make hiring decisions, you need to know the content of each call in order to make informed decisions about training and protocol.

Tracking call types, or call coding, will tell you the reason for each call and provide invaluable insight into where you are succeeding or failing to meet your patients’ home health needs.

  • What issues and questions are your afterhours nurses dealing with on a regular basis?
  • How often are requests for home visits being resolved over the phone?
  • Does the volume of questions regarding basic care suggest that patients and caregivers been (in)adequately prepped for their transition to homecare?
  • Are the patients’ and caregivers’ need for comfort and reassurance being professionally addressed?

Knowing the answers to these questions allows you make qualitative improvements to your current training regimen, protocols, and standards of care.

Digging Into Data

A detailed study into call coding was recently published in the US National Library of Medicine, conducted by three medical professionals who recognized a void in the research of afterhours calls in hospice patient care.

The study took about 4,500 afterhours triage calls and retrospectively analyzed them to produce the following data.

  • Nearly half of all calls took place within 11 days of hospice admission
  • Nearly half of all calls took place within three days of patients’ death
  • 7% requested assistance with signs and symptoms control
  • 8% reported death
  • 3% requested a home visit (of which 23.9% were resolved on the phone)

What would a similar study reveal about your call types? The study concluded that a better understanding of when and why patients and caregivers turned to afterhours triage services could assist in enhancing triage nurse training, fine-tuning nurse intervention protocols (when to coordinate home visits and follow-ups), and ultimately improving care. Contact us today to begin assisting your nurses in providing the compassionate care your patients need.