Effectiveness of online triaging in Healthcare



Dec 24, 2021

The Global Healthcare Industry has faced its fair share of challenges, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. For healthcare institutions, doctors and frontline workers it all came down to preparedness in case of an inflow of medical emergencies. It was reported that only one-third of people that lived in the United Kingdom were able to get the care they needed at a hospital during the first wave of the pandemic. Of course, emergencies had to be diverted to a hospital, but for patients with symptoms, the best way to stay out of risk was to avail virtual consultation over the phone, before exposing themselves and spreading the virus further. Virtual consultation is not a new concept, but the idea of using it as a standard protocol is new and has been adopted by healthcare institutions all over the world, even more so during the pandemic. Further simplifying healthcare is the need for online triaging in all walks of healthcare. 

Challenges of Physical Triaging: 

Physical triaging, even in the post-pandemic era, can be termed as a highly risky process unless necessary. Physical Triaging of a patient requires the use of Personal Protective Equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns for both, the patient, and the doctor as we are not sure of the severity of the symptoms and the illness. For all you know, the GP may expose themselves to a deadly virus or other disease-causing pathogens.

The disadvantage of physical triaging is the unnecessary cost involved in various processes such as the patients travel, PPE kits of both patient and doctor and many more even though there are chances that the illness is not that severe and could be treated via online consultation and medical prescriptions. Problems like chest pain or accidents require immediate assistance and medical institution will have to physically deal with the patient.

Yet another challenge faced is the time invested by the patient, GP, and the hospital. The hassle of setting up an appointment to meet the doctor and waiting in a queue for your turn can be time-consuming. 

Disadvantages of Physical triaging: 

  • Risk of exposure 
  • Time-consuming 
  • Inflexibility 
  • Uneconomical 

Features of Online Triaging:

  • Easy to access – Available on various digital platforms
  • Highly flexible – Appointments can be rescheduled as per convenience   
  • Saves money – No travel expenses  
  • Secure and risk-free- protects both the practitioner and the patient from unnecessary risks and exposure 

Online consultation has its long term benefits when compared to in-person consultations and can also be used for triaging – Which is the order in which the patient shall be treated.

What is Online Triaging in Healthcare?

Each day there are thousands of requests for healthcare advice from patients visiting, calling in and on online consultation platforms. The requests need to be dealt with systematically. Triaging is the process of sorting all the patients depending on their answers to basic questions such as:  

  • Why do they need help / medical advice  
  • The type of help required  
  • The urgency of the help needed  
  • Which specialist the patient needs to be diverted to  

 How effective is Online triaging?

Online triaging, or triaging in general is important so that the patient’s medical information is systematically sorted in a way that saves time and helps the institution or healthcare provider give appropriate advice or provide the care that they need. Effective triaging can save the patients time and the doctors too. It can help decide where the patient should be directed – Directly to GP, a speciality doctor, a pharmacist or straight to the Accident & Emergency Department.

The unique benefit of online consultation is that there is no wait time for your turn nor are there any travel expenses incurred for travel to the practice. Gone are the time you had to even wait for the clinic to open. Your online request through the portal or application gets sent to the practice or GP. This request will be accompanied by a specific set of answers that can highlight the illness or the seriousness of the request. All the information provided by the patient helps triage efficiently, meaning that your request will be taken care of by the right person, who will advise you further or divert you to a speciality doctor or pharmacist depending on the nature of the request. 

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