A Nurse's Guide to Remote Triage

An article exploring the remote nurse triage specialty which discusses the explanation of nurse triage, its benefits and challenges, technology requirements, tips for providing effective care in this role, qualifications, and where to find jobs in this specialty.


A Nurse's Guide to Remote Triage

Remote triage is an innovative and effective way to provide care for patients. It allows a nurse to connect with a patient from a distance and gather information about their symptoms, medical history, and even their vital signs. If necessary, the nurse will relay this information to a medical provider who can give further guidance on how best to care for the patient. Emergency departments, urgent care centers, hospitals, and clinics that use telehealth technology commonly use this form of triage. Here is a closer look at this type of triage and how you can break into this exciting nursing specialty.

What Is Remote Nurse Triage?

Remote nurse triage is an innovative way of providing medical care from a distance, using modern technology to connect nurses with patients who need assistance. Remote triage nursing takes care to a whole new level, offering patients personalized and convenient care from the comfort of their own homes. As remote triage involves telephone-based communication, it is ideal for patients who cannot access care facilities in person. Remote triage has many benefits for nurses performing the triage and for patients who need care. Remote triage nurses work from home to assess their patients over the phone. Have you ever looked at the back of your health insurance card to see if your insurance company offers a nurse advice line? When you call this line, you're speaking with a triage nurse who helps assess your symptoms and assists you in making decisions about whether your symptoms can be treated at home, or if you need a higher level of care. Triage nurses also offer wellness care and can answer many questions about health, diet, exercise, or finding the right specialist to treat your symptoms.

Nurses with a broad knowledge of various areas of nursing thrive in remote triage. Those who have experience in critical care and/or emergency nursing are especially sought after, as they have seen a multitude of illnesses and injuries and will be well prepared to address the wide variety of calls that come into a nurse triage line. You may have a call about a child's diaper rash immediately followed by a call about a man in his 60s with acute onset chest pain. You have to be able to pivot quickly. Nurses who have experience in pediatrics also do well in this role, as many calls that come in are from concerned parents regarding their sick children. Experience in med/surg is also valuable, as these nurses have seen their share of chronic disease management, such as diabetes and COPD. Nurses with experience in surgery do well in this role, as they are able to assist patients who call with concerns about upcoming surgeries or patients who have questions as they recover from recent surgical procedures. Remote triage companies provide nurses with triage protocols to follow, which guide them in asking the right questions, but their nursing experience, judgment, and critical thinking skills are key components in determining their success in the role of the remote triage nurse.

Benefits of Working in This Specialty

Remote nurse triage can allow for quicker patient triage, faster care, and improved outcomes. Remote nurses assist patients in treating minor illnesses at home, but they also advise patients when they should seek emergency care. Nurses in this role have opportunities to save lives every day. Working remotely also benefits nurses who are looking for more work-life balance. Working at home allows nurses to skip the commute, and who doesn't enjoy working in their comfy clothes? Nurses who work remotely also report that they enjoy the new skills and expertise they gain when taking on this role. Telehealth technology gives nurses an opportunity to interact more with their patients, which boosts their job satisfaction.

Challenges and Solutions

Make no mistake: working in remote triage has its challenges. Accurately assessing a patient without any physical contact can be tough at times, especially when the patient has difficulty conveying their symptoms. The nurse has to be able to listen to the patient and, many times, probe deeper to get an understanding of exactly what is going on. There is certainly a detective component to this role. Establishing a strong rapport with patients from the beginning of the call goes a long way to forming a trusting bond and showing the patient that they are safe to share the details of their current health situation with you. Establishing this kind of trust in a small amount of time, and over digital platforms, can be intimidating, but once you have a system that works for you, it becomes second nature to establish trust and move right into your role as the patient's advocate. Ensuring data security and privacy when using online tools is important, and your employer will have protocols in place that will help you protect your patient's personal health information.

Technology and Tools Needed for Success in Remote Triage

Most nurses who begin a career in remote triage will need a few pieces of equipment to get started. A computer or laptop, a webcam, and a headset with a microphone. Consider waiting until you have secured a job before purchasing these things, as they are often provided for you. Many employers request that you have a room with a door so you are able to protect your patients' personal health information. A reliable internet connection is essential in this position. You want to be able to conduct your calls without internet lags or dropped calls, which can frustrate and even endanger your patients. You may also need video conferencing software for virtual meetings as required by your employer.

Tips for Providing Effective Remote Triage Care

A comfortable office space is important for you as a nurse and for your patients as well. If you are physically comfortable and have everything you need at your fingertips, your patients will have your full attention and can enjoy a safe triage call with you. It is also important to understand the benefits and limitations of remote triage care. Many times, triage nurses have to suggest that EMS be dispatched or that a patient should arrange transport to an emergency department due to the severity of their symptoms. There are some illnesses and injuries that simply cannot be treated over the phone, and patients rely on their nurse's expertise to assist them in determining the appropriate level of care for their needs. In contrast, countless trips to the emergency room can be avoided by connecting with a remote triage nurse who can provide accurate and timely advice about a patient's required level of care, based on their symptoms. Clear communication with a patient promotes the patient's confidence in the information you relay to them. Always take the time to ensure the patient understands your care advice.

Am I Qualified for This Type of Work?

To excel as a remote triage nurse, it is necessary to possess a nursing degree and a corresponding license in the state where you are taking calls. If you are taking calls from multiple states, you may need additional nursing licenses. Your employer will advise you about their licensing policies. You will have specialized training in remote triage before beginning your work in this role. It is important that you have strong oral communication skills for this position, as you will be speaking with patients as the main component of your position. It is helpful if you are able to type while speaking, as many employers expect you to chart and speak with the patient simultaneously. Your responsibilities will revolve around your ability to ask questions and provide guidance based on your patient's answers. You can ensure quality patient care while working remotely by following your employer's guidelines and the protocols they have in place for conducting triage. Your employer will guide you in constructing an effective triage process designed to follow their guidelines.

Where to Find Remote Nurse Triage Jobs

With the increasing prevalence of telehealth, remote triage jobs have become a popular choice for nurses. To find jobs in this area, research remote triage job postings through job search websites and social media. Network with recruiters and staffing agencies to find remote nurse triage positions and utilize online forums and nursing associations for advice on finding the remote triage job that is right for you.

Remote nurse triage is a relatively new concept in the healthcare industry, but it's one that is quickly gaining popularity. This was especially true after the COVID pandemic forced medical providers to devise creative solutions for home care. The benefits of remote nurse triage include increasing patients' access to medical care, reducing travel time and costs, and improving care quality. When executed well, remote triage can be a life-saving specialty, equipping nurses with the capability to evaluate and provide appropriate care advice to their patients. Working in remote triage requires a wide range of medical knowledge and experience; however, with the right training and support system in place, you can be a successful remote triage nurse. Remote triage nursing is an exciting opportunity to provide life-saving medical care from the comfort of your own home.

With the ability to assess, treat and monitor patients virtually, this innovative profession has the power to revolutionize healthcare.


What is telehealth?

What Is a Remote Triage Nurse and How to Become One

Is a Remote Nursing Job Right for You?

Sandy Grimm is an RN freelance writer who provides health and wellness, fitness, nutrition, mental health, biotech and healthcare engagement content. Sandy is an expert in pediatric and adult health and wellness, obstetrics, fertility, women's health, men's health, elder care, and disease management. Her background includes neurosurgery, med/surg, pediatric transplant and rehab, postpartum and breastfeeding, elder care, dialysis, emergency and trauma, clinical outcomes, and remote triage. She draws on her experience as a nurse when writing health content. When she is not writing, you can find her enjoying her children and grandchildren, quilting, and scuba diving the world with her husband Ray. 

2 Articles   11 Posts

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marina.todeasaRN, ASN, EMT-P

1 Article; 2 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Department.

Thanks for this great breakdown.  Do you work in remote triage now?

Sandy G, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 11 Posts

Specializes in Neurosurgery, Pediatric Transplant, OB.

Hi Marina, I do work in triage now. Feel free to PM me or email sandy@thenursesword.com with questions. 😁

Specializes in Community Integrated Svcs, PeriOperative Svcs.. Has 26 years experience.

Terrific article, Sandy. I think Remote triage is something I could have been doing while off on health leave the past several months & I wish my employers had considered that while I've been making physiotherapy my job. Unions & such work differently up here. It's definitely a role I will consider in future! 🙂 

Sandy G, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 11 Posts

Specializes in Neurosurgery, Pediatric Transplant, OB.

Thanks so much, Robin. It's definitely a good alternative to floor nursing if your body needs a break. Thank you for taking the time to reach out! 

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 38 years experience.

I was a triage nurse for many pediatric practices in my area. I really enjoyed doing it, and I'm thinking about trying it again as a second job to increase my income. 

Jesuah, RN

10 Posts

Specializes in OB (labor, delivery, pp and nb nursery). Has 41 years experience.

It's interesting that this article has come to my attention since I just recently applied to a company for remote phone triage for Women's Health. I have 41 years of smaller facility OB care (labor, delivery, post partum and newborn nursery). I am ready to leave the bedside but was interested in still working. Unfortunately for me, I never received an interview call and none of my references were contacted but I received an email thanking me for my interest and to let me know they are pursuing other applicants. I wish I knew what "turned them off" so I could do something to change if I continue to pursue this line of employment.

Sandy G, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 11 Posts

Specializes in Neurosurgery, Pediatric Transplant, OB.

Hi, Jesuah!

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't get an interview for that role, but don't give up! Keep applying on job boards and reaching out to recruiters.

They were probably not turned off by you, but they may have chosen the applicant who was more suited to the role. It sounds like you have a wealth of experience. Keep applying!