The Trifecta of Working From Home

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Patients, Nurses & The Call Center – Everyone Benefits, Everyone Wins

The option of working from home is an offering that is commonplace in a variety of industries such as hospitality, banking, retail, and finally – healthcare. Almost one-third American employees work at home – at least part of the time. The discipline of nursing has perfected the remote care of patients over the past decade and is one of the most in-demand clinical service lines in the continuum of care. This article will highlight why and how the “The Trifecta” is beneficial to 1) the patient, 2) the nurses/healthcare workers, and 3) the organization.

If you are feeling skeptical about the cost and logistics, allow me to explain. The implementation and equipment costs are often less than the cost of the real state and boarding expense of an in-house worker. McKesson, the American Healthcare company estimates a savings of $2 million annually since allowing employees to work at home. Training and access to resources including charge nurse support parallels what is available to brick and mortar located staff and for all your operations people- the ability to monitor and supervise the performance and productivity of work at home staff is just as accurate, if not better than the activity in a traditional setting. Here are the winners and the reasons why:

Patients

A sign of an organization that is committed to providing exceptional patient experiences is one that provides their patients access to 24/7 nurse triage services. Market studies indicate today’s consumers want what they want when they want it–including clinical care. Providing patients with the option to speak directly to a triage nurse at any time is now an industry expectation. A high percentage of this work is done by nurses working from home. One of the most established medical call centers in the USA currently has 85% of their nursing team practicing out of their homes. In many cases, the outcome does not involve a trip to the ED. Patients don’t need to leave their homes, drive across town to a network facility or wait in a crowded waiting room for hours waiting to be seen. Telephone Nurse Triage can definitely enrich your patients’ experiences while providing optimal outcomes. Patient satisfaction improves!

With nurses working from home and when a patient feels the need to talk to a nurse, regardless of the time day has the potential to ensure that once a thorough assessment is performed by the skilled RN and the patient is advised to seek the most appropriate level of care (in the most appropriate setting) and there is no risk for a delay in care. The biggest winner of all is the patient with an improvement in health outcomes.

Nurses

Telephone triage is a relatively new specialty of nursing that has evolved over the past 20 years. Being educated in the skill of remotely caring for a patient is a unique opportunity for experienced nurses to expand their clinical knowledge base and fill a gap in the patient’s plan of care. The prospect of working as a nurse from the comfort of home is intriguing to many and helps with recruitment efforts. An established outsourced call center reports considerable increase in employee satisfaction scores among work from home staff and a 2017 retention rate of 93%. That translates to a cost savings in new hire onboarding and training. A win-win!

The Organization

No healthcare organization will invest money or allocated resources – especially nurses without a proven contribution to the overarching strategic goals. Whatever the discipline under consideration to work at home, be it clinical or administrative caregivers, one thing for certain – they must at the very least support, if not completely resolve, many of the requirements imposed by the shift to value-based care.

Nurses working from home promote better patient health, improved population health and a reduction in the cost of care. If one didn’t know better, it would seem that the specialty practice was developed with the Triple Aim in mind.

Access to clinical care is there when the patients deem it necessary. Work from home staff guarantees that care is provided regardless of the time of day, volume of calls, or hours of operation of the PCP’s clinics. Giving patients more control over their healthcare needs will foster engagement, compliance, and, ultimately, outcomes. Better outcomes result in a cost savings across the continuum of care.

Remote triage nurses should be proud of the influence they have in the organization’s effort to optimally use all resources. This is most obvious with referrals to the ED. Triage nurses are trained to refer patients away from the ED and towards more appropriate locations of care such as urgent cares, express clinics, or virtual visits. Patients appreciate the collateral benefit of a co-pay savings of hundreds of dollars out of pocket.

The possibility of working from home may sound too good to be true. That may be the case in many professions, but not Telephone Triage Nursing. Patients are better served, nurses love their job and the organization reaps countless benefits. Remote Nursing is truly the Trifecta of healthcare – a Win-Win- Win strategy!

 

Gina Tabone, MSN, RNC serves as the Vice President of Strategic Clinical Solutions for AccessNurse.

Prior to joining AccessNurse, she served as the Administrator of Cleveland Clinic’s NURSE on CALL 24/7 nurse triage program. Under her direction, ED utilization declined, continuous care coordination improved, performance metric targets dropped from 33% ABD to less than 5%, URAC accreditation was achieved, and the call center grew from covering 350 physicians to the integration of more than 1,500 employed and affiliated providers.