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Service Spotlight: Tele-triage in LGH’s Emergency Department

Published on Friday September 8, 2023

Speeding Up the Wait

New Tele-triage Program Launches in the LGH Emergency Department

A trip to the emergency department (ED) usually comes about due to an unfortunate accident or medical emergency. From bad falls and broken arms to heart attacks and strokes, the emergency department (ED) is the first place where a patient is evaluated and triaged. Oftentimes, depending upon the number of patients in need of care, individuals have to wait to be seen by a provider which can be quite stressful and frustrating for someone who is in pain.

In an effort to reduce patient wait times and expedite care in the emergency department, Centra recently altered its patient triage process at Lynchburg General Hospital (LGH) by harnessing the power of telehealth through a service called tele-triage.

So what exactly is tele-triage? 

When a patient enters the emergency room through the waiting room, the first step is usually to be evaluated by a triage nurse. Adding a remote provider via secure video conference in triage allows a physician to assess a patient at the beginning of their ED evaluation to help identify subtle emergencies and place orders for testing and treatment that would be beyond the scope of a nurse. The overall effect is that this assessment by a provider speeds up a patient's visit and shortens the amount of time they have to spend in the emergency department.

Why did Centra decide to begin offering this service?

The practice of tele-triage was utilized by some hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Centra is looking to improve patient experience and throughput while also giving another option to our providers in how they provide care to increase recruitment, reduce burnout and improve work-life balance which ultimately benefits both patients and their clinicians.

What are the benefits?

Centra launched the tele-triage program on August 1 and according to Dr. Ben Newman, Executive Medical Director of Centra Emergency Services, “things are going great. Both the ED staff and Centra's IT departments fully leaned into this new idea and made the rollout a huge success. So far, I've only received positive feedback from the nurses, other providers, and (most of all) the patients!”

Some benefits that have been realized over time by other hospitals who have implemented tele-triage include less overcrowding in the emergency room and a reduction in the number of patients who leave without being treated. 
A practice that has not yet become widely used by other healthcare systems, Centra is an early adopter of this innovative way to utilize technology to improve the patient and provider experience. While it can sometimes be challenging to implement a new process, Centra’s ED staff and IT teams worked together to make the launch of this new initiative possible with hopes of this only being the first step towards even more advanced telemedicine offerings from the Centra Emergency Department!

Learn more about the Emergency Department at Centra

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