Ask ECRI: Staffing for Efficient, Effective Triage

June 21, 2017 | Ambulatory Care Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​Triaging patients, in person or by phone, is a crucial step in ensuring that patients see the right provider at the right level of care. Risk managers frequently ask ECRI Institute questions about how to ensure that enough sufficiently trained staff are available to handle their patient load.

One question that arises frequently is how many callers a triage staff member can be expected to handle. In our response, we noted that a specific number cannot be stated, because it is difficult to predict how long any one phone call will take or the severity of the patient's concerns. Organizations should also be wary of rushing staff into making clinical decisions on a triage call before they have all the necessary information because they are trying to meet a performance quota. Rushing can be stressful for the triage staff and can lead to staff making decisions too quickly. It is important to determine the facility's call volume, conduct...

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