3 Easy Ways to Add Flexibility to Your Nurse Advice Line

Have you ever sat up in the middle of the night with a sick child, and you weren’t sure what to do? Have you ever felt unsure if their symptoms were serious enough to merit a trip to the emergency room?

My husband and I have been there. Our daughter’s been sick multiple times with the croup and a high fever. In those cases, instead of taking her to the emergency room, we called our pediatrician’s nurse advice line, left a message and waited for a call back.

Advice lines are great for healthcare providers, because they reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, which in turn help hospitals contain costs and improve efficiency.

While nurse advice lines are very helpful, they’re not as flexible as they could be. According to data from our March Customer Experience Management survey, 69 percent of people expect companies to provide them multiple communication channels—voice, email, text messages, video and chat. Just 46 percent of companies do.

Adding live chat to nurse advice lines makes sense. The chat solution should provide automated responses, and the ability to escalate to a live nurse for more complex interactions. If you could offload basic questions to an automated-response system, you could care for more patients more quickly—decrease response times and improve patient satisfaction.

According to some estimates, 60- to 65 percent of nurse advice line calls involve problems that can be handled at home. It’s likely that some percentage of those calls could be managed with automated chat responses.

A solution like Avaya Automated Chat can interact with the patient, their spouse, parent or other caregiver. Check it out here:

Healthcare organizations can also create an outbound campaign to follow-up automatically with patients to see if an appointment or additional follow-up is needed. Personally, I feel cared for when I get a follow-up call to make sure everything is OK, and that I don’t have any additional medical needs.

Automated follow-up calls are an effective way for healthcare providers to catch problems early, encourage patients to visit their doctors early and make them feel like they’re receiving the best care possible. Improving patient satisfaction is beneficial for hospital systems, as reimbursements are now tied to those measures.

I know that I don’t want to visit an emergency room in the middle of the night and I hope with more flexibility in nurse advice lines and other service offerings that those late night visits will be reserved for truly critical situations.

A major study based on the responses of 60,000 members of a health plan, found that telephone-based triage service “appear[s] to be a cost-effective intervention that improves access to medical advice, thereby encouraging appropriate use of medical services.”  By providing access to service (or advice) via alternative channels, healthcare providers can provide even more value for their patients.

Visit http://www4.avaya.com/usa/campaigns/health/index.html to learn more about Avaya healthcare solutions.

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