A hospice provider’s score on its CAHPS survey (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is one of the most important quality measures it has — and whether that score is pleasing to the provider often hinges on perhaps the trickiest time for care: after hours.
“The biggest burden to patient experience is getting in contact with a provider as quickly as possible,” says Daniel Reese, CEO of IntellaTriage. “If you look at the CAHPS hospice survey, one of the questions we directly address is, ‘How often do you get help during weekends, evenings and holidays?’ That is the space where IntellaTriage plays.”
Using a team composed 100% of registered nurses, IntellaTriage utilizes cutting-edge integration and interoperability capabilities to enable innovative nurse triage solutions for hospice and home care providers. Coupled with a flexible approach tailored to each operator, IntellaTriage is able to serve even the most complex organizations in a way that suits each one
Here is a look at three ways that after-hours triage care can improve a provider’s CAHPS scores.
Shorter wait times, personalized experience
Caring for a hospice patient is a 24-hour job, and carries burdens and responsibilities that are physical, mental and emotional. Obviously that emotional component is present for family caregivers, but it’s there for professional caregivers too.
When people are caring for hospice patients and need assistance, they need it immediately. They have questions about symptoms, pain management, or requiring additional supplies. They are caring for a person whose life is ending, and they are working valiantly to provide that person with a deep quality of life in their final days.
Yet the assistance they need is not always immediately available.
“You either have to wait for a nurse to call you back — and if they’re with a family, that could take 20 to 30 minutes — or you might be able to get someone, but it’s not a nurse, and again you’re waiting for someone internally to give you a call back,” Reese says.
That’s where IntellaTriage comes in. The company’s team of licensed nurses field calls for hospices to ensure that caregivers working with hospice patients get the assistance they need right when they need it, with an average wait time of well under a minute. That responsiveness is crucial for an agency’s CAHPS score, since the survey broadly asks about the user’s overall experience.
“What we’ve found is that caregivers don’t delineate between if it’s normal hours or after-hours,” Reese says. “Their loved ones are in the process of passing away and they are looking for guidance no matter if it’s three in the morning or three in the afternoon.”
Improved patient care
IntellaTriage’s nursing staff supports numerous hospices with average daily censuses ranging from 150 patients to more than 500. Each of these patients, of course, want and deserve the undivided attention of any nurse in their home. Some hospices are now mandating that nurses no longer field calls while bedside. Even if that were not the case, a nurse in a home with a patient answering a call is bad form.
“It’s a poor experience if you have to answer the phone,” says Suzi Meschbach, executive vice president at IntellaTriage. “And yet, the person who calls may have a very urgent issue as well.”
Instead of the nurse in the field answering the call, an on-call nurse at IntellaTriage takes the call. That gives the family in the home — in other words, the patients who are not making a call — a vastly improved experience, leading to improved CAHPS scores. IntellaTriage works with clients to determine their workflow, and staffs cases accordingly.
That coordination leads to a better experience for the caller, as IntellaTriage is able to create nursing continuity. If a caregiver calls the hospice and reaches an IntellaTriage nurse, they call back and can speak to the same nurse. Meanwhile, the field nurses can spend more time focused on their face-to-face patient care, thus building better experiences for patients and families.
Better quality of life for field nurses
For hospice nurses in the field, burnout is real. Their work is physically taxing and emotionally straining. The triage capabilities from IntellaTriage significantly improves their quality of life in three ways.
First, depending on the client and the procedures they want to follow, IntellaTriage can address 60 to 80 percent of incoming, after-hours triage calls, Reese says. If the hospice is receiving 10 calls a night, for instance, IntellaTriage is resolving upwards of eight of them. More calls are answered more quickly, leading to more satisfied families and caregivers.
That is the second improvement for nurses: the answered calls reduces the stress on nurses who don’t want to be responsible for missed calls or delayed responses.
Third, with a team of on-call nurses, a hospice can reduce the rotation of after-hours nurses they send into homes. The case manager doesn’t have to call the same nurses as frequently, again reducing the stress level and strain on the nurses who do take those shifts.
“One of the biggest things we hear is that they are able to significantly reduce their nurse turnover and burnout, and they have higher job satisfaction and can stay with the agency longer,” Reese says.
Adds Meschbach: “We’ve heard nurses say that once they’ve experienced this and they can pay attention to their patients, they’ve joked that if their company ever decided not to do this, there would be a mutiny.”
The bottom line is this: When nurses feel better about their work, their work improves. That leads directly to a better experience for caregivers, patients and family members. And it eliminates missed referral revenue.
“We are acting as an extension of your service, after-hours,” Reese says. “We’re not an answering service. Ours is a pretty differentiated nurse-first model.”
To learn more about how IntellaTriage can help your hospice, help nurses and boost your CAHPS score, visit IntellaTriage.com.