Telephone Triage Nurse

People who live in rural areas of the United States are more likely than urban residents to die prematurely from five of the leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke – according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC uses several approaches to help improve the health of rural residents. One approach is telehealth, which delivers health care through mobile phones or computers.

In a desire to reduce costs and more efficiently treat a more significant number of patients, healthcare providers are increasingly turning to telehealth as a solution.

The American Medical Association found that 80 percent of U.S. physicians offered telehealth or virtual visits in 2022, compared to only 14 percent in 2016.

While part of this dramatic increase is about cost savings, there are other benefits to telehealth, too.

A telehealth triage nurse is a licensed RN who helps assess the needs of patients by phone or video chat. Telehealth can help reduce barriers to care for people who live far away from healthcare services and specialists, have time or access restrictions, or have transportation or mobility issues.

According to the CDC, telehealth is effective for communication and counseling. Specific to telephone triage nursing, telehealth is an excellent way to deliver care quickly in an emergency, such as a stroke.

It also allows medical professionals to monitor implanted defibrillators or pacemakers and ensure they work correctly.

Telehealth can reduce hospitalization and readmission rates, allowing patients to take care of routine medical issues without a doctor’s visit or trip to an urgent care clinic.

What Telephone Triage Nurses Do

Telephone triage nurses are registered nurses who administer care via telehealth services. Typically, this means speaking to patients over the phone, providing them with medical advice, evaluating and assessing their symptoms and consulting with physicians as needed. Much of what a telephone triage nurse does is answer questions and provide health education so patients can manage their symptoms. However, there are several other modalities by which a telephone triage nurse can provide care.

Live Video

Live, two-way, synchronous video is a more advanced option compared to a simple phone call. The video component helps the nurse determine and assess symptoms more easily.

Store-and-Forward Video

Telephone triage nurses can create medical educational videos to send to patients. The benefit of this modality is that a nurse can create a single video and then forward it to multiple patients, saving valuable time and energy. However, this modality is asynchronous rather than live, meaning the patient has no meaningful way to interact with the nurse through the video. Store-and-forward videos can also be used to communicate patient histories to the nurse.

Advance Your Nursing Career

Acquire an advanced understanding of patient care and further develop your nursing skills to prepare for management opportunities.

Explore Degree

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

Primarily used to monitor medical equipment remotely, RPM helps nurses keep track of a patient’s health remotely, often without the patient needing to do anything out of the ordinary.

Mobile Health

Mobile apps can be used both for telehealth communication and for healthcare education. Such apps can monitor and alert people about disease outbreaks or changes in their health.

Telephone Triage Nursing Qualifications

A telephone triage nurse must be a registered nurse. While telephone triage nurses do not have the same clinical responsibilities as other nurses, they must have a firm grasp of technology and a sophisticated understanding of medical science. Communication skills are essential since a telephone triage nurse’s responsibilities involve communicating information and helping patients provide health data for physicians to evaluate.

Telephone Triage Nurse Salary and Outlook

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide salary details specific to telephone triage nurses, the median annual salary in 2022 for RNs was $81,220. Because the number of patients expected to use telehealth services is growing rapidly, a corresponding increase in telephone triage nursing jobs is likely. As hospitals try to decrease costs while providing quality patient care to more people, telephone triage nurses are increasingly necessary, making the job outlook for this career good.

Advancing Your Nursing Career

To become a telephone triage nurse, you’ll need a firm grasp of current medical science and technology. An online RN to BSN from Campbellsville University can help you obtain the skills you need to provide telehealth services to patients. Learn in a rigorous environment with a convenient, flexible schedule that fits into your busy life.