Book Review: The Complete Guide Providing Telephone Triage and Advice in a Family Practice

Reviewed by Ann Maddaus

Poole, Steven. The Complete Guide Providing Telephone Triage and Advice in a Family Practice: During Office Hours and/or After Hours.

Dr. Steven Poole’s new book gives a practical approach to setting up or enhancing a telephone triage protocol. The book is laid out in an easy-to-follow format. Three items in this book that stand out: defining the roles necessary to provide a quality program, determining the ideal or model call for your specific practice, and getting paid for the service you’re providing. Dr. Poole’s lengthy experience in telephone triage gives the reader full benefit of the policies and procedures he’s revised over the years.

Defining the roles of administering a cost-effective triage program is the first step in providing your service. The book suggests three key roles: a nurse to serve as telephone manager; a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant to serve as medical care director; and a manager to oversee the business aspects of the practice. These roles are defined completely in the book with separate chapters of interest for each role.

The model or ideal call determines much of your practice. By defining how you want calls handled, you define training and quality control. It’s extremely important for cost-effectiveness and quality care for the phone personnel’s duties to be clearly defined and to train them to be efficient. Chapter six of this book is dedicated to the model call.

Reimbursement is essential to continued telephone care. Triage centers are becoming busier due to today’s lifestyles. Chapter sixteen is dedicated to getting paid for what you do. In order to provide great telephone service, the funding has to be there. In fact, in order to facilitate the billing, the CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes are provided in this chapter as well.

This book has a wealth of information from a very knowledgeable source. Both existing practices and those being developed would benefit from reading this book.

What else is new in books:

Moore, Griffith’s Instructions for Patients. Seventh Edition 2005, Elsevier Inc. ISBN: 141600364 (Included in this edition a CD-ROM that prints out patient instructions in English or Spanish)

Ann Maddaus is the Manager of Enrica Fish Books in Minneapolis, MN. Call 800-728-8398 for more information about these or other books.

[From the Fall 2004 issue of AnswerStat magazine]