In a medical network management system (NMS) (20), health plan beneficiaries access a team of health care professionals over the telephone to help them assess their health needs and select appropriate care. The NMS (20) has a patient assessment component (22). The patient assessment component consists of a set of information tools which are used by health care professionals to assess patient conditions and assist in the selection of health care services and to help patients find appropriate care at the appropriate time. The tools include a comprehensive, automated set of proprietary assessment algorithms (26) which are based on branched chain algorithms utilizing Bayes theorem. These unique, clinical tools enable a trained nurse or other health care professional to sort patients into different risk categories, safely and effectively without requiring a medical diagnosis. Patients can then be guided to an appropriate level and type of care for their problem(s) based on their level of risk and set of potential needs.