Impact of virtual triage in an Emergency Department on patient activity and system efficiency

Flagship Program: Intelligent decision support to improve value and efficiency

Project Description

Emergency Departments (EDs) are under increasing pressure due to the high demand for ED access. ED presentations across all triage categories have increased, resulting in increased workload, ED crowding and delayed access to emergency care. While efforts are being made to address this across the hospital system, EDs must continue to find ways to improve their operational efficiency. 

Digital technology has enabled new methods for patient interactions and the development of innovative virtual healthcare models. These virtual and telehealth services allow us to reimagine how patient care can be delivered. 

Triage and registration are important elements in streamlining the triage process. Developing a virtual triage process would help diagnose and direct noncritical cases to the next step in a person’s care journey. By focusing on triage and optimising the triage assessments process through digital technology, the time spent waiting to be triaged can be reduced and timely patient access to care improved. This will also reduce the pressure on triage staff, reducing workload by limiting redundant assessments or treatment interventions. 

This study aims to develop a virtual triage model for Northern Health Emergency Department, and to determine what key outcomes from the virtual triage model can be measured to assess the impact of the whole health system. The objectives of the virtual triage model are to safely triage self-presenting emergency patients, streamline patient care to bypass the waiting room and provide an acceptable alternative model for the public. The overall aim is to use telehealth services to manage a proportion of ED patients in the community. 

Analyses will provide evidence of the effectiveness of the virtual triage model in the ED. 

Project Objectives

The objectives of the virtual triage model are to safely triage self-presenting emergency patients, streamline patient care to bypass the waiting room and provide an acceptable alternative model for the public. The overall objective is to develop and test an efficient and practical virtual triage model for Northern Health Emergency Department and to manage a proportion of ED patients in the community: 

  • to screen patients remotely rather than having them visit the hospital 
  • to triage patients and to advise and support patients who do not need urgent medical intervention or could receive care at home 
  • optimise ED resources to reduce overcrowding and avoid prolonged patients waits 
  • keep potentially infected individuals out of hospitals to lower the risk of transmission to other patients and healthcare staff.

Industry Participant

Northern Health
Ariana Carrodus (Supervisor)

 

Research Participants

La Trobe University
Dr Urooj Kahn (Academic Mentor)
Professor James Boyd (Supervisor)


Project Value:

$28,750