Virtual Triage: Ease the Burden on Your Staff

Clearstep Team

The impacts of the pandemic on medical groups have been far-reaching and seemingly never-ending. Now more than ever, healthcare systems are looking at telemedicine options to help ease some of the burdens on their staff.

Virtual triage technology is a great way to interact with patients remotely and route them to the proper level of care. It can also help free up your organization’s resources and personnel.

We will look at how the best-in-class virtual triage platforms work and the financial and time spent benefits for patients and healthcare systems.

Related: Pushing the Boundaries of Virtual Care

How Does Virtual Triage Work?

Virtual triage works by connecting patients from their homes to a virtual exam room where they can work with a triage specialist or receive a digital AI chat experience.

Once connected, a patient participates in a virtual exam that collects information on them and their symptoms and then analyzes the described symptoms to determine the next steps in their treatment.

Patients with minor symptoms can be cared for virtually by advanced practitioners. Those with more severe conditions can be routed directly to specialists or directed to go to emergency rooms.  

Benefits of Using Virtual Triage

One of the main benefits of virtual triage is that it is effective for the patient and healthcare systems. A study by the AMA concluded:

Telemedicine can save money, resolve most health concerns in a single visit, and do so without significantly creating new utilization of health care services.”

Virtual Triage Benefits for Patients

Being able to triage symptoms remotely is much more convenient for patients. In addition, it can save them valuable time and money from unnecessary visits

Patient Benefits:

  • Reduced Time Sitting in Waiting Rooms
  • Less Time Off From Work and School
  • Reduced Costs of Visits to Urgent Care Center, ERs, and their Doctor’s Office
  • Patients are Routed to the Correct Doctor the First Time

Virtual Triage Benefits for Healthcare Systems

Healthcare systems also find many benefits, both from an economic and a resources standpoint, from using virtual triage on patients.

Provider Benefits:

  • Properly Routing Patients to the Appropriate Level of Care
  • Reducing Call Center and Care Center Call Volumes
  • Freeing Up Resources for More Critical Tasks
  • Reducing ER Visits

Related: The Role of APPs in Telemedicine and Digital Health

A hospital ward with several exam beds and partitions. 

Virtual Triage for Larger Healthcare Providers

Healthcare systems, HMOs, retail pharmacies, and multispecialty medical groups are turning to virtual triage to improve healthcare access, create accurate patient routing, and enhance the patient experience.

Healthcare systems can access more patients over a larger geographical area using virtual triage. In addition, once a patient is triaged and routed by the platform, it can help automate critical points in their journey, such as finding a provider, scheduling an appointment, and verifying insurance eligibility.

Being able to triage a patient’s symptoms remotely and then route them properly allows a larger healthcare system to allocate critical system resources and personnel better. 

Virtual triage can complement a healthcare provider’s call center to help alleviate high call center volume and reduce wait times.

Do you want to know how Clearstep’s Smart Care Routing helps increase patient satisfaction and retention? Click here to learn more about Clearstep’s patient-centric approach!

Virtual Triage for Emergency Rooms

According to a Center For Disease Control study, emergency room visits continue to rise. In contrast, the number of ERs continues to drop. It is difficult for healthcare systems to allocate the right resources to an ER because of its chaotic nature and the inconsistent volume of visits.

Providing virtual triage services to patients before they get to the ER and route their treatment correctly can help reduce unnecessary ER visits. It can also respond accordingly to cases that do indeed need treatment and direct them to an ER immediately. 

A doctor looking at a double-screened computer. 

How to Establish a Virtual Triage Program

It would be best to work with a trusted partner who takes an end-to-end approach when implementing a virtual triage program. 

The virtual triage solution should be a core component of the program. It should be easily configurable to map out your organization’s inventory of systems and care resources for the optimal routing of patients

Your partner should also work hand in hand with the stakeholders in your organization to pinpoint triage endpoints, define KPIs, and integrate provider/facility scheduling. In addition, the platform will be able to provide your organization with critical insight into patient behavior and demographics.

The virtual triage platform should also integrate easily with EMRs and CRMs for easy storage and access of patient and provider data.

Assess Your Resources

An effective virtual triage program will inventory your organization’s staff and resources to help optimize the routing of patients into your system. This inventory should include the number of exam rooms, available personnel, real-time access to their schedules, and availability.

Easy integration with your organization’s existing technology stack like EMR and CRM systems is vital in assessing an organization’s available resources for routing patients properly and efficiently. 

Create an Entry Point

The next step is setting up an entry point for the virtual triage platform through your website or mobile application. Many healthcare systems look for a platform that can be white labeled so that you can keep the look, feel, and branding of your organization’s digital properties

You can allow patients to register for a virtual triage independently or automatically through their medical provider.   

Symptom Checkers & Virtual Visits

The most critical aspect of implementing a virtual triage platform is choosing one that makes a fast and accurate diagnosis. In addition, it should make the diagnosis based on gold-standard content like Schmitt Clinical Content.

It’s also crucial for a virtual triage system to focus on directing patients to the proper level of care they need and not try to offer a differential diagnosis. It should enable better access, transparency, and options for patients.  

Build Awareness for Your Program

Once your virtual triage platform is up and running, it’s time to promote it within your network and to new potential patients outside of it. 

Your partners should work with your organization’s marketing team to develop thorough marketing materials and plans. These materials will help educate your patients and personnel on the many benefits of a virtual triage platform.  

Related: How AI Chat Increases Health Systems’ Clinical Capacity and Builds Brand Loyalty

Virtual Triage: Your Organization’s Next Steps

A virtual triage platform can have many benefits for both your organization’s patients and staff. 

Patients getting their initial treatment via a virtual triage can save time and money by being able to diagnose a condition remotely and not having to travel to see the doctor.

You’ll manage your staff more efficiently by using the platform to route patients to the right level of care. Proper diagnosis and routing will help free up precious space, resources, and personnel with unnecessary in-person visits.

Perhaps most importantly, the virtual triage diagnosis process should be fast and accurate so you can route patients to the correct level of care. Once they are in the system, it can also guide them through the patient journey more efficiently by automating key moments along the way. 

A trusted virtual triangle platform partner can help ensure everyone gets the right care at the right time. 

Are you ready to learn more about Clearstep's Virtual Triage Platform? Click here to schedule a demo!

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