In an effort to reduce patient wait times and expedite care in the emergency department, Centra recently streamlined its patient triage process at Lynchburg General Hospital (LGH) by harnessing the power of telehealth through a service called 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. 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.
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 accelerating the care process.
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 patients!”
Some benefits that have been realized over time by other hospitals that have implemented tele-triage include less overcrowding in the emergency room and a reduction in the number of patients who leave without being treated.