At Parkview, we recognize that your health concerns don’t always arise during peak office hours. Through our Access Center, we are able to assist patients in their hour of medical need, whenever that might be. Kelli Showalter, project leader, Access Center, PPG Scheduling, and Kathryn Hilaire, RN, manager, Access Center Nurse Triage, PPG Call Center, share more about the team of dedicated nurses answering your calls.
When a patient calls our 1-877-PPG-TODAY line or the majority of primary care provider offices, they will likely speak with someone at the Access Center. This will almost always be the case outside of business hours for these calls, as well as a large number of specialty providers. If a caller selects the option of speaking to a staff member, they will be sent to one of Parkview’s schedulers.
Our schedulers are highly trained to determine why the individual is calling and what resources they need. The scheduler will observe a stoplight protocol for each patient. If their concerns are green – for example something minor, like a cut or a scheduling concern – they will go ahead and handle the need. If the caller’s issue falls outside of the scheduler’s scope – a yellow or red medical concern, such as chest pain or possible infection for example – they will send the caller to one of the available phone nurses in the Access Center.
To give you an idea of call volume to the Access Center, in 2021, schedulers took 1.29 million calls, and turned 219 thousand of those over to phone nurses to assist patients.
Once a caller is connected to a phone nurse, they will utilize a very specific triage algorithm designed to provide them the best care in a timely manner. These team members have extensive training for a broad range of situations. There are as many as 15 phone nurses available, depending on the volume of calls, and those numbers are constantly being shifted and adjusted in response to the public’s needs. Their recommendations can look very different, depending on what the patient needs.
If it’s urgent, they might recommend they go to a walk-in clinic, ER or call 911. The phone nurse might even need to call 911 for the patient.
If the caller is having a mental health emergency, the scheduler might connect them directly to the Parkview Behavioral HelpLine or a phone nurse might transfer them to the HelpLine after an assessment and conversation.
If the clinician finds the issue to be less severe, they could offer suggestions for over the counter or home remedies the patient can try. Symptom management is a big piece of what this team is trained to do. A phone nurse might be able to help get the concern under control so that the patient doesn’t have to be seen in the office at all.
The Access Center nurses are trained to take calls on a wide variety of specialties as well. If a patient is having complications following a procedure, initiating use of a new device or medication, or simply has a concern related to a special area of medical treatment, the team at the Access Center is trained on protocols to assess and assist.
The goal is to really work with the patient to figure out the severity and immediacy of the situation, and from there, find an option to help them manage their symptoms or issue, get them scheduled to be seen quickly or assist them in pursuing emergency care.
Phone nurses do have access to MyChart and can review a patient’s chart, provider notes, go over recent test or lab results with them if the physician has signed off on that, and schedule a virtual appointment for them, if that’s the best route. They are able to refill or substitute some medications as well.
The thing to remember is that we are here for our patients 24/7, around the clock, including holidays. We are an extension of your care team, standing by to help.
We recognize that things happen. Patients often forget or misplace discharge instructions. They wake up in the middle of the night and something is different or concerning. They run through their list of to-dos and realize they need to schedule a physical. They’re unfamiliar with a new medical device. We want our patients to have the peace of mind that we are here to help, whatever the issue is, whenever it presents. You don’t have to wait to take care of your concerns.
Call 1-877-PPG-TODAY any time for assistance finding a provider, scheduling an appointment or to speak with a trained phone nurse.