How to Leverage Teletriage for Streamlining Hospital Operations

The biggest contribution of technology in the healthcare segment is towards telemedicine in the recent times, and more so emphasizing the need for teletriage.

With more and more healthcare organizations making virtual care as the first point of contact for the patients, telemedicine is preventing hospitals from reaching the critical breaking point, allowing for better access to care while keeping the patients as well as practitioners safe.

COVID-19 has turned out to be a catalyst for telemedicine adoption across hospitals, both big and small. Nearly 60 percent healthcare providers have moved non-urgent care from hospitals while 79 percent are relying more on telehealth usage.

One of the important ways in which telemedicine is proving to be extremely beneficial is Teletriage. By keeping the people who don’t need to be there out of the ER, Teletriage helps reduce the burden on the healthcare facilities while maximizing the emergency department utilization at the same time.

What is Teletriage?

Triage basically amounts to assigning the level of urgency to help decide the order of treatment. By sorting and allocating the patients on the basis of priority, the patients in need of critical care can be identified and attended to on a priority basis.

It also allows to accelerate the diagnosis in the non critical cases and move them forward in the care journey.

Teletriage uses technology for rapid clinical assessment that takes place virtually, either through video conferencing or telephonic conversations.

Since the initial assessment is virtual, healthcare professionals can diagnose and direct the non-critical cases and move them forward in the treatment process.

With remote consultants primarily dealing with non emergent cases, the doctors in the emergency department can focus on the critical cases, thus streamlining operations and improving the overall health outcomes.

The Importance of Teletriage in Hospitals

1. Reduced burden on the emergency department

The biggest advantage of implementing teletriage in hospitals is the ability to keep cases which do not require immediate attention out of the ERs.

According to recent stats, physicians in U.S. emergency departments manage about 411,000 patients every single day. Out of these only 74,000 require inpatient services.

Relying on teletriage to serve as the first point of consultation can reduce this burden significantly and ensure that only the cases which really require hospitalization and emergency care, report to the ERs.

2. Efficient utilization of hospital resources

Teletriage implementation in the hospitals can save considerable time as well as efforts, resulting in streamlined operations and significant reduction in the cost of healthcare.

ReLyMD, an emergency medicine group that was the pioneer in implementing teletriage with its HIPAA compliant telemedicine platform showed promising results.

In a feasibility pilot trial, they were able to show a 90 percent diversion rate from the emergency department for low acuity visits which accounted for significant cost savings.

3. Enhanced patient experience

Longer wait times in the emergency room contribute to poor patient experience. By leveraging teletriage, hospitals and healthcare organizations can bring down the waiting times in the ED, improve response rates and give individualized attention to every patient which isn’t a possibility in the crowded ER.

Unlike the traditional ER workflow where the patient has no interaction with the physician until the triage is completed, with teletriage, the patient is in contact with a physician right from the beginning.

Developing patient engagement solutions like these can result in reduced wait times, improved physician-patient interactions and ultimately increased patient satisfaction levels.

4. Enhanced provider productivity

Physicians providing telemedicine consultations remotely reportedly have greater productivity while experiencing lower burnout symptoms.

According to a study published in AHA (American hospital association), the cases per hour processed in the teletriage model was effectively double than the conventional triage model.

Emergency physicians were able to attend to 20 patients per hour when consulting remotely, as opposed to 10 patients per hour in the traditional setting. Additionally, the number of patients attended per shift went up from 90 to 137.

5. Efficient emergency response

The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the fragile condition of the current healthcare system framework. Teletriage can not only reduce the chances of cross infections, but it can also help overcome the challenges associated with shortage of staff, capacity and workflow.

The physicians who need to be quarantined as a result of possible exposure can continue to provide online consultations. With physicians in quarantine taking over virtual care, the on-ground physicians are freed up to provide better in-person care.

The blueprint for incorporating teletriage in modern day healthcare organizations

Integrating telemedicine and its various facets as a part of your routine clinical workflow is easier said than done. A number of critical considerations must be taken into account when integrating virtual care for patients in your clinical practice.

Here are some of the things you need to consider before you start building your telemedicine practice and offer teletriage services to your patients.

1. Building a custom platform or leveraging existing solutions?

While a number of telemedicine platforms are available in the market today, if you want complete control over the process design and need to align it with your existing workflow, custom telemedicine app development is the way forward.

2. Compliance to regulations and data safety measures

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in significant relaxations from the federal government for the regulations on telemedicine. These relaxations however, are only temporary measures.

If you are planning to integrate virtual care on a long term basis, you need to have data protection measures for ensuring the safety of PHI and compliance to HIPAA regulations.

3. Planning for ensuring interoperability

The teletriage system needs to be interoperable with the EHR software to ensure seamless operations. Healthcare delivery seldom occurs in silos. The data needs to be safe while allowing for encrypted sharing with the concerned authorities like specialists, insurance and pharmacy.

4. Finding the right development partner

Healthcare software development requires specialized expertise, attention to detail and familiarity with compliance regulations. The development partner you choose on this journey can have a huge impact on the success of your venture.

Have further questions?

With 10+ years of experience as a telemedicine application development company and numerous success stories in our portfolio, Arkenea is a pioneer in the health-tech space. Get in touch with us and our team of expert consultants today and get started on your digital transformation journey.