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Reduce ED Costs by Encouraging Nurse Advice Line Utilization


A tried-and-true service offered by most health plans, a nurse advice line is an important way to help members gain convenient, evidence-based information and support when they have questions about symptoms or care. But when you’re focused on budgets and bottom lines, your nurse advice line may not be one of the first things that comes to mind.

It should.

Why? Because the more your members use it, the more opportunities you have to guide them to the most appropriate level of care—reducing unnecessary ED, urgent care and primary care visits. And that reduces costs for you (and your members).

Maximizing nurse advice line ROI

It doesn’t take a vast utilization increase to create significant savings. Even a modest boost in the percentage of members using virtual nursing advice can have a positive impact.

Here’s one example using a percentage of health plan members who contacted a nurse advice line of 4% and a very conservative average cost avoidance per member of $181. With every 10th of a percentage increase in participation, this hypothetical plan could see a corresponding 2.5% increase in total cost avoidance.

That means if call volumes increased even 1 percentage point from the previous rate to bring the participation rate to 5%, the total cost avoidance would improve by nearly $600,000. And, if the utilization volume grew to closer to 6%, that could mean potential savings of $1 million.

Increase patient safety and close gaps in care

Of course, increased use of a high-quality nurse advice line raises other factors as well, including patient safety. Nurses are able to get callers to the most appropriate level of care quickly. If a caller does need urgent care or an ED visit, nurse advice team members (usually registered nurses) can look up the one closest to their location.

Plus, the more members who use nurse advice services, the more engagement nurses have. That leads to an increase in educational and influence opportunities and helps to close gaps in care.

Boost satisfaction and loyalty

When you ensure healthcare consumers receive the right level of care at the right time and place, they feel more supported. A compassionate, high-performing nurse triage service not only improves care access and care quality, it helps reduce a caller’s stress, anxiety, confusion and health risk. All of these benefits ultimately boost member satisfaction, and increase retention and acquisition.

How can we help? At Carenet Health, we’re happy to discuss ways you can increase the use of your telehealth solutions. Simply contact us today.