Customizing for COVID-19 Calls

Drs. Schmitt and Thompson are providing regular updates to the COVID-19 Exposure protocols based on updated guidance from the CDC and other infectious disease experts. But what if you need to supplement their guidelines with policies specific to your organization? Or what if you want to make changes to the Fever, Cough, and Trouble Breathing protocols to reflect changes in the way you’re handling patients with those symptoms in light of COVID-19?

ClearTriage offers two methods of making these changes. Sticky Notes provide a simple way to add notes to the top of any screen in any protocol. They provide a quick and easy way to annotate a protocol, much like adding a sticky note to a book. Customization, on the other hand, lets you add, edit, or delete specific triage questions and care advice. You can also change dispositions in a protocol.

Let’s talk about these options in more detail.

Sticky Notes

Sticky notes can be added to any screen in any protocol. They will show up for anyone using your account when they view that same protocol. In general, they’re meant to let anyone on your staff enter a note capturing how your organization likes to handle things. But they can be very useful in our current situation.

Here are a couple examples to get you thinking:

Sticky Note with screening questions prompting consideration of the COVID-19 protocol from the Fever protocol
Sticky Note with screening questions leading directly to testing in the Cough protocol

To add a sticky note to the top of any screen, start by selecting the protocol you wish to change. Then go to the appropriate screen (Protocols, Questions or Care Advice) and choose Add Sticky Note from the menu under your name in the top right corner of ClearTriage. If you need to make changes to the sticky note in the future, simply choose Edit Sticky Note from the same menu and either edit or delete the content that was previously entered. You can watch how to do this in this video.

Customizing Protocols and Dispositions

ClearTriage’s powerful customization tools let you adjust the protocols to describe the exact way you want to handle your patients. Here are some examples to get you thinking about the possibilities:

Add to the Override Dispositions

A “testing” disposition added to the list of override choices

Adding a disposition is an easy customization to make. And you can choose to have that disposition always show up in the Override List so your nurses can quickly make that choice for any patient, regardless of which protocol they are using. Details are on page 10 of our Software Instructions and demonstrated in this video.

Add Coronavirus Exposure Screening Questions Within the Relevant Protocols

Once you create a custom disposition, you can add it to any protocol and add one or more questions to that disposition. This can be a great way to remind your staff to ask certain screening questions and use the Coronavirus Exposure protocol if appropriate. Details are on page 8 of our Software Instructions and demonstrated in this video.

Screening Questions in Cough Protocol Referring to COVID-19 Protocol

If you’re in a location with a high community transmission rate, you can use this same technique to add questions within Fever and other relevant protocols to instruct your nurses to send non-emergent callers to a COVID-19 test site or just shelter at home.

Question for High Community Transmission Zone Referring Fevers to Mobile Testing

Customizing the Coronavirus Exposure protocol

The protocol authors are regularly updating these protocols, but the situation is changing so rapidly that it’s possible for the protocols to become out of date. Also, depending on your location, you may have different triage procedures than other parts of the country. You can accommodate this by customizing the Coronavirus Exposure protocol itself.

One caution to doing this – your changes will have to be redone when the authors release a new version. Typically when you customize a protocol we are able to merge your changes with the changes from the authors but that isn’t possible with the pace of these updates. When a new version comes out, you can review your changes (and take pictures if you want), then “Revert” your customized protocol to the new Schmitt-Thompson version. After that you can redo any of your customizations that are still necessary.

Telemedicine Visits

During the pandemic, many organizations are exploring greater use of telemedicine visits (video visits). If you want to standardize which symptoms and complications are seen by a telemedicine visit, read this blog article describing the ability to mark individual questions as eligible for a video visit. You can also just rename entire dispositions if you want to change most of your visits to telemedicine.


Sticky Notes and Customization are powerful features within ClearTriage, but they are also surprisingly easy to use. We hope this article provides you with some ideas that will help with your handling of COVID-19 related calls.

Feel free to send us questions if you have problems trying to make any of the above changes. Or new ideas that we can add to this article!

Also please let us know if you’d like us to schedule a webinar and demonstrate how to make these changes. We’re available to provide whatever support we can during these challenging times.

ClearTriage is a web-based decision support tool for telephone triage nurses and the leading provider of the Schmitt-Thompson telephone triage protocols. Contact us to learn more or start your 30-day free trial today.

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