The success of a triage system is practice dependent. The system should work for both practice staff and patients. Below we list the steps you can take to make your triage system work for clinicians.
Steps you should take
Ensure staff have enough time in their working day
This is so that they can assist patients in completing triage forms.
Ensure high-quality information is collected
A good medical history is key, and practices should ensure that triage forms allow patients to clearly describe their symptoms or conditions.
Consider your staffing capacity
Practices should consider whether any additional staffing is required to effectively carry out care navigation/triage and how to mitigate workforce shortages.
Ensure an even distribution of practice workload
Tasks should be appropriately assigned to ensure staff are not overburdened.
Engage all staff in the process
Communicating with all practice staff is crucial to discuss responsibilities, impact on practice workload, and reorganisation of tasks. Practices should consider the staff skills needed to deliver triage effectively.
Introduce a clear and easy-to-follow triage flowchart
This is so that staff can distinguish between urgent and routine issues. Please see the examples we have provided.
Provide training for staff
Thorough training should be provided so that care navigators feel confident in using the system. Care navigators should not be expected to make clinical decisions, but the aim is to empower them to book patients into the appropriate appointment slots. Staff training should include formal training on managing difficult conversations with patients. Guidelines such as those published by Medics for Life could be used to support decision making.
Create a standardised script
This is for care navigators to follow.
Thought should be given to investment in additional resources, (e.g., equipment, hardware, software) that may be needed.