Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Doctor on screen observing a patient in an emergency department

Best practice guide

Telehealth for emergency departments
For providers Best practice guides Telehealth for emergency departments

Tele-triage

Tele-triage is like traditional triage but uses technology to supplement or replace elements of the patient interaction. Tele-triage involves screening patients remotely to determine the patient's condition and the care needed.

About

Tele-triage can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Patient uses a web or app-based tool to enter their symptoms and get guidance on whether they need to seek additional treatment
  • Patient connects from their home to a provider to discuss if they should come to the emergency department
  • Patient is assessed upon entering the emergency department using a kiosk or video interaction with a provider

Benefits

Benefits of tele-triage services:

  • Reduces overcrowding in the emergency department.
  • Reduces wait times and bottlenecks by processing patients more quickly.
  • Provides rapid care to low-risk patient populations with low-risk health conditions.
  • Reduces the number of patients who leave the emergency department without being treated.
  • Supports patients in nursing homes, home health, and homeless shelters by providing a direct link to the emergency department to help decide if or when a patient needs to be transferred.

Tele-triage is especially important during COVID-19 to help:

  • Screen patients for COVID-19 so patients who may be infected can be isolated.

Getting started

In addition to the items on the getting started page, consider:

  • What services your patients need
  • What technology you will need to support your service — typically portable technology and adequate bandwidth
  • What technical and medical staffing resources you will need for onsite and remote providers
  • How you will conduct training for all staff involved in or interacting with the service
  • Where to install signage and clearly marked paths for patients when using tele-triage at the entrance of the emergency department — where to go, tasks they need to do, where to wait, how to social distance
  • What your requirements are and how you will handle informed consent

More information about tele-triage:

Last updated: February 9, 2021

Sign up for email updates

Get updates on telehealth
delivered to your inbox.