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Clinical Call Center of the Future:

In a recent article in Healthcare Call Center Times entitled “Thoughts from a Telephone Triage Pioneer”, Sheila Wheeler shared her vision of the future of telehealth.  She has developed a list of features for the clinical call center of the future.  Call centers are currently implementing many of these ideas, based on new research related to clinical telephone triage.

  • New Title
    • Telephone Triage Nurse becomes obsolete
    • Clinical Triagist subsumes the titles telephone triage and telehealth nurse
  • Integrated Clinical Call Centers
    • The 24/7 National “Consolidated Clinical Call Center” becomes the new standard
    • Clinician-staffed, symptom-based calls
    • Integrated:  Telephone Triage, Poison Center, Suicide Prevention, 911, etc
    • These call centers outsource after hours to Emergency Departments, Physicians On Call,  etc
    • Clerical staff manage secondary lines for Refills, Administrative, Class Registration, Physician Referral
  • Care for caregiver
    • Shorter work weeks
    • Clinician Autonomy
      • Second-Tier triage becomes obsolete
      • Clinicians on phone are the first and last point of contact with patients
    • Work Variety
      • Combined Role:  Clinical triage and Patient educator/Informaticist:  New parent classes,  diabetes, smoking cessation, weight loss, etc. Patient education using web-based technologies
  • Ergonomic work station
  • Training Programs
    • Critical thinking
    • Pattern Recognition
    • Decisionmaking skills,  coping with ambiguity
    • Assessment skills review: High risk Populations, Neuro, Cardiac, Respiratory, etc
    • Risk Management
    • Telehealth integration for transitioning to newer technologies
    • Stress management skills
  • Future of the Future: Telehealth and Beyond

Ms. Wheeler has published articles in the past about the future of telephone triage.  Let us know your thoughts about this vision or your own vision.  Thirty years ago, clinical decision support systems did not exist for telephone triage.  What do you believe the future holds for this industry?

Written by Sheila Wheeler (15 Posts)

SHEILA WHEELER, RN, MS, is acknowledged as an international expert in the field of telephone triage. She has practiced nursing for over 30 years, primarily in critical care, emergency department and clinic settings. An accomplished writer, educator, researcher and consultant, Ms. Wheeler is currently President of TeleTriage Systems in San Anselmo, California.



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  • Joan Davis,RN, MS COHN-S

    What an insightful and encouraging view of the future of telephone triage you’ve provided ! As a former occupational health nurse now doing telephonic triage, I especially will welcome the ergonomic and aesthic improvements and as someone with a teaching background, I will cheer the combined telephone triagist/ patient educator role. Thanks for such a hopeful view of this special and evolving field of nursing.