Phone triage service for urgent appointments

Masterton Medical now offers a phone triage assessment service for patients with acute symptoms who request an urgent or same day appointment with a GP/Nurse.

The new service will allow patients to talk through their symptoms with a Masterton Medical GP/Nurse before any appointments are made. This gives the GP/Nurse the opportunity of assessing the best course of action and identifying any pre-work that needs to be conducted prior to the patient coming into the practice. For example, if a patient needs a blood test or an x-ray the GP/Nurse can arrange this.
If, however, the GP/Nurse would like to see a patient face-to-face, an urgent appointment will be made.

Phone triage is a system that has been introduced as part of Masterton Medical’s work towards becoming a Health Care Home. We hope the following questions and answers will be helpful in understanding this service and its benefits.

What is phone triage?
Phone triage is an over the phone conversation between a patient with acute medical issues and a Masterton Medical GP/Nurse. It takes place shortly after a patient has contacted the practice to request an urgent or same day appointment.

How exactly does it work?
If a patient is experiencing acute symptoms and needs to ring in for an urgent or same day appointment, they will be advised that a GP/Nurse will ring them back. The GP/Nurse will then ring, discuss the medical complaint and determine the next steps.

Will it be my own GP who rings me back?
It may not be your own GP/Nurse who rings back, but it will be one of our Masterton Medical GPs/Nurses.

Why has Masterton Medical introduced phone triage
Phone triage is part of a broader initiative called Health Care Home. Medical practices across New Zealand are being encouraged to become Health Care Homes. This means that they agree to implement new services and practices (in line with the Health Care Home model) that always put the patient first, improves the patient experience, are proactive, efficient and co-ordinated.

Where can I find out more about Health Care Homes?
More information is available at www.healthcarehome.co.nz

Will phone triage improve the service patients with acute symptoms receive?
Yes. Phone triage will improve the service that patients with acute symptoms receive, since it enables the GP/Nurse to talk directly to the patient, understand the nature of their symptoms and assess the urgency of the medical issue. The GP/Nurse can then make an informed decision as to the best course of action. For example, the patient may be asked to come into the practice as soon as possible or there may need to be some pre-work conducted e.g. referrals for tests or x-rays. The pre-work can be arranged over the phone without the patient coming into the practice. This is more convenient for the patient and saves time too.

What is the main benefit of phone triage?
The main benefit is that if a patient has an urgent medical issue it will be assessed quicker over the phone than if they have to come into the practice first. Early assessment over the phone also means that treatment, or tests and referrals, can be arranged sooner, and the patient can be on the road to recovery quicker.

What are the other benefits of phone triage?
Phone triage will also reduce the demand for urgent or same-day appointments at the practice by prioritising medical issues that require a face-to-face GP/Nurse consultation over those that can be treated or referrals made over the phone.

Is there a cost for this service?
If, during the phone triage assessment, a patient needs some pre-work, a blood test or an x-ray for example, the GP/Nurse will arrange this and there will be no charge to the patient.

If the GP/Nurse advises the patient to come into the practice for a face-to-face consultation the usual GP/Nurse consultation fee will apply.

If you have any additional questions, the team at Masterton Medical would be pleased to help. Please email us at [email protected], or ring us on 06 370 0011.