An added convenience: After-Hours Nurse Triage now offered at Michigan Medicine

October 17, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

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Patients often experience symptoms after their doctor’s office has closed its doors for the day. This can be frustrating to a parent or caregiver whose child has an urgent need in the middle of the night, or an elderly patient needing medical advice who has limited access to transportation or who lives alone.

To support Michigan Medicine patients’ 24/7 needs, ambulatory care has introduced After-Hours Nurse Triage, a phone advice and scheduling service for primary care and geriatric patients.

This call-in service is staffed by ambulatory care registered nurses who conduct initial patient screenings, document clinical assessments, record responses to questions asked during the triage process and send patient care instructions directly to the patient portal at

“Nurses advise patients about what symptoms to look out for, how to effectively manage their symptoms and make referrals to a more urgent care setting, if necessary,” said Nancy May, interim chief nurse executive and chief nursing officer for the U-M Medical Group. “It’s an extraordinary, convenient service that connects patients with a Michigan Medicine nurse who can help them manage their symptoms over the phone.”

Physicians on-call

Michigan Medicine physicians are on call to support this effort and offer additional clinical advice as needed. After-hours triage nurses are also able to schedule patient appointments on the spot for the next day (or the next available appointment) at one of Michigan Medicine’s primary care ambulatory clinics based on the needs of the patient.

This service was designed to provide Michigan Medicine patients with the right care, at the right location at the right time.

“We are thrilled to bring this centralized service to our patients.” said May. “The goal is to enhance patient care while preventing unnecessary hospital readmissions and avoiding needless trips to the ER.”

The service has already received positive feedback since its launch in February.

For instance, one provider reached out to a colleague at the Brighton Health Center’s internal medicine clinic with the following message:

“I wanted to pass on some positive feedback regarding one of the triage RN’s. I very much appreciated the effort [made] in assessing some challenging situations over the weekend. This nurse did an excellent job in summarizing the pertinent issues, involving the physician at appropriate times and completing the interaction with the patient.”

Patients have found the service to be beneficial as well.

“We’ve heard from those who utilized the service that it helped them get the advice they needed and feel more at ease about their health,” May said. “That perfectly aligns with our goals for the program.”

Gaining momentum

Michigan Medicine’s After Hours Nurse Triage has gained much momentum since its inception, tripling the amount of call volumes and adding five nurses to its staff. The service now boasts a staff of 12 nurses, has logged more than 8,000 encounters to date — and has no indication of slowing down.

To access this after-hours service, primary care and geriatric clinic patients should call their general clinic phone number and they will be directly connected to the nurse triage center. This service is available from 5 p.m.- 8 a.m. Monday-Friday, and 24 hours on Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

Patients are encouraged to submit prescription renewal requests on the patient portal or by calling the clinic during regular office hours. Patients who have more urgent needs for prescription refills after hours will have the on-call providers consulted for consideration.