The progression of modern physician practice in recent decades has led to a model of care that finds physicians with less time to treat and advise their patients. One way that health care companies have tried to close this gap is to implement telephonic nurse triage systems. Theses are also known as nurse lines (NL) to provide guidance to callers regarding medical care. These are services provided by specially trained nurses to callers reporting a variety of medical complaints of varying severity. Nurses use decision support software to assist them in determining what advice to give the caller.
Telephonic programs are not a new methodology used to enhance health care advice to patients. The first recorded instance of assistance via telephone was recorded in 1879.1 By 1997, this had evolved to more than 500 nurse triage and advice systems serving 35 million Americans.2 Moreover, telephone advice nursing is the fastest growing nursing specialty.3 This growth has been exacerbated by a combination of concerns involving controlling unnecessary costs while providing quality services and maintaining customer satisfaction.4 The use of telephonic methods has been the subject of over 500 articles.5