Developing and piloting an electronic telephone triage application. Conference Paper uri icon

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  • e21680 Background: With the shift of cancer care to the outpatient setting, telephone triage is a vital part of today’s oncology practice. UPMC CancerCenter (UPMC) desires to streamline the current telephone triage process across its 31 outpatient clinics. UPMC and Via Oncology collaborated to develop and pilot a prototype of an electronic telephone triage application. The key components of the prototype were defined as decision support, EHR integration, reporting, and workflow management. Methods: A prototype application, Symptom Manager (SM), was developed and piloted with 4 nurses at 3 outpatient clinics. Front office staff registered inbound calls in SM, which populated a phone triage queue. The nurse was prompted to enter information about the call. Decision support materials were displayed for reference, including algorithms for symptom assessment, adjudication, and treatment. The output was a structured summary of the encounter that was copied to the patient’s chart. From the queue, the nurse was also prompted to make outbound calls for symptom reassessment. A feedback session with the nurse users and institution leadership was held following the pilot. Results: A total of 235 inbound calls were captured in the application, of which 74 (31.5%) were symptom-related. Additional data fields collected during the pilot included symptom, adjudication, time elapsed for callback, and symptom status at follow up. The ability to extract and report on data of this type was viewed as valuable for quality and process improvement. The nurse users praised SM’s ease of use, but prototype performance issues shortened the pilot. They indicated that the standardized documentation increased efficiency. Requests for future enhancements included deeper EHR integration and additional fields for data capture. Conclusions: This pilot provided the feedback necessary to develop the latest version of SM which begins roll out across UPMC in November 2016 and includes EMR integration. An update on the software and additional data captured during the pilot will be provided at presentation.


  • Ellis, Peter
  • Carlisle, Christine
  • Ford, Colleen F
  • Nikolajski, Peggy
  • Reidmiller, Carol
  • Stewart, Leslie
  • Rushford, Justin S
  • Barry, Amanda
  • Krebs, Melinda

publication date

  • May 20, 2017