Telephone triage

A survey of 1,195 GPs, practice managers and nurses by Campden Health has revealed that the use of telephone triage is gaining in popularity. 56% of practice managers polled revealed that some form of triage is used with 9% of practices triaging all of their patient calls.

Surprisingly those who practice triage reported a wide range of success with some reporting as much as 60% of patient problems being solved without the need to see a doctor whilst other practices only reported a 1% success rate. However 95% of respondents rated triage as either moderately or extremely successful so it is understandable why the practice is spreading across the NHS.

One drawback uncovered by the survey was the fact that in 13% of cases untrained receptionists were being used to conduct the triage and overall 48% had not received any telephone triage training.  Nevertheless with surveys showing that doctors daily see 6-10 patients who have no medical needs, if triage can eliminate these unnecessary appointments it will free up valuable treatment time for those who are in need of care as well as more speedily directing patients to more appropriate resources such as social services or other health professionals.

When it comes to other health services, using the services of a trained receptionist to take calls and make appointments can also make a difference to the working day.  Virtual receptionist services which use friendly and well trained staff can help healthcare professionals to provide the best level of service which they can to their patients.  With no ringing telephone to interrupt treatments and a friendly receptionist taking care of appointment booking, message taking and appointment reminders, the health professional can carry out the task which they were trained for rather than become bogged down in administration.

Better still, a virtual assistant can help to keep the appointment book filled.  Appointment reminders have been shown to increase attendance rates and in the event of a cancellation the receptionist will be on hand to take calls which could potentially fill the vacant slot.  And with a trained virtual assistant the professional image of the health practice will be maintained.

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