The roles of virtual assistants (VAs) in small to medium medical practices have drastically expanded over the last few years.
Although many medical providers are still under the misconception that VAs can only perform specific front desk duties at a medical practice, such as answering calls, many are now realizing the value VAs can provide throughout the entire practice.
One such role is the medical triage specialist function that VAs and registered nurse VAs can perform to increase caregiving support and improve patient satisfaction in a medical practice.
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What is medical triage?
Triage comes from the French word ‘trier’, which means ‘to sort out’, and its use in the medical industry dates back to the 18th century when urgent medical care had to be assigned to soldiers on the battlefield according to the seriousness of their injuries.
Today the word is synonymous with the medical industry and still refers to allocating medical resources according to patient needs.
In broader terms, concerning small and medium practices, medical triage refers to the process of evaluating a patient’s urgency for medical attention, the type of medical provider they need to consult, and the following steps to take.
The person responsible for triaging must evaluate and record the symptoms and check their historical medical records, including medication, to determine the correct direction. Triaging also includes responding to general patient inquiries, scheduling, canceling, and moving appointments, helping with prescription refills, and assisting with queries regarding test results.
Although this is nothing new, it is only recently that proper triaging has become vital to nurture patient growth in medical practices.
Why is triage important to a medical practice?
The flow of patients to a medical practice is turbulent, meaning there isn’t a steady flow of patients requesting help or advice. Whether walking in, calling, or contacting practices online, they have different demands and levels of urgency.
The perception of the patient regarding the urgency of the practice to provide resolution to their need for medical care or information plays a pivotal role when it comes to the patient experience. If a patient believes that they did not receive the level of care and attention they expected, they become disgruntled and set off into cyberspace to leave negative comments and testimonials about the service they received
A 2022 study revealed that 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians, and 71% use online reviews as the first step to finding a medical provider.
So not only does proper patient triage ensure that providers provide the best medical care possible to their patients, but it is also a tool to mitigate reputational damage that could slow down the growth of the medical practice.
Who can answer triage calls at a medical practice?
The first and foremost requirement is that the triage process is HIPAA compliant. The medical triage specialist should be on the patient’s HIPAA contacts list if they were to provide any medical advice.
When it comes to the qualifications and credentials of the person in charge of triage, it depends on the depth of triaging and the protocols of the specific medical provider. For instance, an unlicensed person may answer a call and address nonclinical and non-urgent questions but can not provide medical advice or assess the level of urgency.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) suggests that only registered nurses should answer calls to evaluate the level of urgency. However, in certain states, licensed practical nurses and medical assistants who received triage training are allowed to do so.
How can Neolytix VAs fulfill the role of medical triage specialists in a practice?
- Filling the labor shortage gap
With the current labor shortage in America, small to mid-sized medical practices are finding it hard to source and retain skilled, reliable staff. This leads to additional pressure on the remaining staff members, and one of the symptoms of stress is mistakes.
Nationwide, medical providers are now searching for outsourcing options, ranging from medical billing to marketing and triaging, to fill the gap and optimize operations at their practices. This created a massive demand for both locally and internationally sourced VAs.
Neolytix provides well-trained local and internationally sourced VA medical triage specialists who, with the assistance of an onboarding manager, can be up and running at a practice within an hour. This relieves medical providers from spending countless hours sourcing and training a skilled person that is already hard to find.
- Providing high-level triaging
Medical VAs can do exactly the same as in-practice employees when it comes to scheduling, rescheduling, and canceling appointments, helping with prescription refills, and answering queries.
- Providing in-depth triaging
There has also been a phenomenal increase in the demand for virtual registered nurses as the supply of registered nurses in the US continues to decrease.
A registered nurse VA is the ideal medical triage specialist as they can provide in-depth triaging and answer medical-related queries that do not need the medical provider’s attention.
More importantly, registered nurse VAs who are medical triage specialists can provide telehealth services, also known as telenursing, which allows the practice to go that extra mile for patient care. A value-added service goes a long way when it comes to the overall patient experience.
Neolytix provides well-vetted, experienced Filipino registered nurses to medical providers in the US with sterling reputations for going the extra mile with patients. And best of all, they come at a fraction of the cost of in-practice registered nurses.
- Improved supervision and reporting on triage quality
Seeing that the VAs (registered nurses or normal medical VAs) are externally monitored by a Neolytix supervisor, all calls and communications are recorded, stored, investigated, and reported. The medical provider is empowered to determine the frequency of receiving detailed reporting from Neolytix and can also check performance dashboards on the go.
This provides medical providers peace of mind and relieves them from policing today, allowing them to focus on providing excellent health care instead.
- Improving response rates
When in-practice employees are absent, whether planned or unplanned, it adds additional pressure on the rest. With VA medical triage specialists at a practice, Neolytix has back-ups trained to stand in if the primary VA is absent for whatever reason. It improves the continuation of care and prevents backlogs of calls and queries that might have been the case if the reserve had not stepped in.
Neolytix also monitors different metrics of incoming calls and can determine trends to improve the performance to provide faster response rates to queries, all of which is reported in detail
- Seamless consolidation with in-practice team
Neolytix’s VA medical triage specialists are equipped with high-tech solutions that integrate seamlessly with the practice’s administration and EHR systems, making it impossible for patients to detect that they are not speaking to someone in the medical practice.
In addition, our VAs bring the best-in-industry skills they acquired by working with other practices over the years, which the in-practice personnel can learn from and implement into their daily operations to improve existing processes.
- Creating a unified communications platform
While VAs can provide prompt answers to your patients over the phone, nowadays, people are less reluctant to call. Neolytix offers solutions that can help your patients triage over Live Chat, Text Messages, emails, or phone calls.
The unified communications platform, also known as an omnichannel, centralizes and stores all forms of communication on one platform, making it easier to effectively provide a medical triage service.
Where do I find VAs to fulfill the triage role?
Neolytix has been focusing on providing exceptional VAs and registered nurse VAs to small and medium medical practices nationwide for over a decade.
At Neolytix, medical providers get two VAs for the price of one- regardless of the role they need to fulfill in practice. That means that a backup VA, trained in the operations of your practice, will step in should the primary VA not be available for whatever reason.
Our medical triage specialists have dedicated team leaders that monitor their performance and ensure that they deliver according to agreed service levels. And rest assured that your staff, no matter how long they collaborate with our VAs, will learn from the expertise we bring to the table.
For more information regarding our medical triage specialists and the current 25% discount rate on offer, complete the form below for a no-obligation consultation.