As leaders in the healthcare industry, we spend a great deal of time and resources analyzing patient outcomes and looking for areas of improvement. In triage, this typically translates to a leadership audit of triage decisions and a report back to staff on areas of improvement.
It’s important to periodically evaluate your audit process for effectiveness and sustainability. To evaluate your current process of triage record reviews, consider the following:
- What practice changes are indicated based on the results of the data?
- Are the data specifics targeting areas of safety and practice standards compliance?
- What percent of staff change their triage decision-making process/triage documentation based on audit results?
- What feedback from staff has re-directed or changed this process?
No matter your audit approach, there are many variables that can impact the rate to which staff will actually change behavior at triage. These include:
- The culture of the department or organization
- The tool being used to collect triage data
- The way in which the data is analyzed
- The way in which the data is shared with staff
From my experience in both triaging and training, there are five essential elements that make the triage audit process most effective and encourage the most positive practice changes. These include:
- A consistent tool or format to collect, synopsize and report the data
- An easy way for staff to access, enter and review elements of the audit
- A timely report of results for all staff with realistic goals for accuracy/completeness
- A reminder to staff that individual data points are essential and related to patient outcomes and/or regulatory requirements
- An easily accessible reference that clearly delineates the practice standard for triage decisions and documentation
Within the past few years, there has been a shift in mindset from auditing to learning and encouraging critical thinking. The new perspective capitalizes on the review process as an opportunity for triage nurses to learn firsthand from their own past triage decisions and improve triage competency. I partnered with The Sullivan Group to develop the RSQ® Solutions Triage Assessment, an online program in which nurses can interact with critical thinking tips coinciding with triage practice standards as they enter their own data. It’s now being used in over 170 hospitals across the country.
When you decide to pass the analysis role along to individual triage nurses, you as the leader and educator can then focus on demonstrating the relationship of data results to patient outcomes, practice standards compliance, and consistency in demonstrating best practices as well as evidence-based practices.
Learn more about the RSQ® Solutions Triage Assessment here.