European GPs told on increased triage call efficiency

Plain Healthcare clinical decision support products are helping out-of-hours' services to safely and effectively assess and triage calls faster than ever before, an international medical conference in Italy has been told.

An evaluation of the British-designed Telephone Assessment System TAS Odyssey program has revealed increasing accuracy in triaging as nursing staff make the most of the intuitive decision support, the Wonca Conference of European GPs meeting in Florence from August 27-30 heard.

A paper, presented in Florence by Professor Jeremy Dale of the Centre for Primary Health Care Studies at the University of Warwick, was based on an evaluation of the quality of 270,000 out-of-hours' telephone assessments and advice made by about 200 nurses working across seven services in Britain. It found that the average telephone consultation was completed in 6 minutes, approximately half the duration of a typical NHS Direct assessment.
The outcome of calls ranged from advice to self-care at the lowest level through to seeking routine, urgent or immediate care. Where the program really proved its worth was in its success at accurately triaging calls needing attention within 2 hours (16% of calls), those within 6 hours (24%), and those needing routine GP or self-care (40%).

While TAS recommendations were slightly more cautious than those made by the nurses, there was still 93.4% consistency on "immediate" evaluations, and 92.9% consistency on self-care evaluations.

Prof Dale drew attention to organisational features that appeared to influence the extent to which nurses followed TAS' recommendations and affected the effectiveness of out-of-hours' assessments. He suggested that there might be scope for further improvement in performance as nurses become more confident in the TAS program and its recommendations.

He said: "Out-of-hours' organisational performance is heavily influenced by the practice of individual nurses who undertake the initial assessment of patients' needs.

"While TAS enables impressive outcomes, out-of-hours' services need to understand and address the factors that influence individual nurse practise, especially that of nurses who are unusually quick, slow, or idiosyncratic in their telephone assessments."

Plain Healthcare, based in Colwyn Bay and founded 11 years ago, has three clinical decision support programs which aid practitioners in making safe clinical decisions and assess levels of urgency:

TAS Odyssey (Telephone Assessment System)
Face-to-Face Odyssey
Odyssey Gold, the combination of telephone and face-to-face decision support which allows electronic patient records to move seamlessly between functions.

Issued on behalf of Plain Healthcare ( <> )

by Words Worth Public Relations

for further information: Graham Lowing 01268 756261

email: <>

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