The November 2012 Issue

Daytime Answering Service Lowers Cost to Deliver Healthcare

By Brian M. Woods

After being in healthcare administration for the last seventeen years, I find myself asking the same questions healthcare executives ask themselves every day. For instance, How can I keep my staff from being overwhelmed by phone calls during office hours? A daytime answering service helped me in my healthcare career and made both my livelihood and the quality of care I was able to offer better. Here is how I finally found a call center with the “go to” daytime service my staff and patients need.

A big issue is the amount of calls coming into the front office. Staff members in that area often become switchboard operators instead of handling their other responsibilities during business hours – such as making appointments, checking patients in and out, making sure each patient has an EMR update, verifying insurance, and collecting co-pays and past due balances. I have seen similar issues in the nursing stations because physicians like their nurses by their side and want them available as soon as they come out of an exam room.

From an executive standpoint, we like to keep our physicians constantly busy and ensure that the patient flow is consistent. Physicians don’t want the nursing staff to leave until every voicemail is answered and every patient, pharmacy, home health, hospice call is returned. We know that this becomes an issue of money. At monthly board meetings physicians continually ask their administrators, “Why are we paying out so much in payroll, with majority of it being in overtime?”

These are just a few of the examples in my healthcare tenure where I have searched for answers, and I have found them in the daytime answering service. This has helped me with staff productivity, patient staff and physician relationships, cost savings of not having to hire additional staff members, and more money to budget for other things needed in the practice.

Daytime Answering Service Perks:

  • Calls answered quickly, with the option to message any staff member – including nursing, appointment scheduling, surgery scheduling, precertification, and laboratory in real time
  • English and often bilingual care coordinators
  • A record of all calls
  • Can be customized to interface with any EMR and PM system
  • No added costs for additional hardware or IT support
  • Increased patient satisfaction: No more busy signals, hold times, or dropped calls
  • Business cost savings

Brian M. Woods, ACMPE physician advocate at Ambs Call Center.

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Do You Lie to Your Doctor?

By Peter DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorI recently received a press release that surprised me. In part, it said, “It’s an open secret in healthcare communities: Patients lie.”

I suspect that the reasons are many. Some lie because they don’t want to admit unhealthy behaviors to their doctors. Others, by not voicing a concern, subconsciously deny its existence. Still others make their own determinations as to what’s important and what’s not, lying to keep from revealing what they deem to be irrelevant.

Yet I think I understand this. I’ve made casual comments to doctors, and the next thing I know they want to schedule me for a series of tests unrelated to my visit. Or they prescribe a medicine for a minor issue, and the drug’s side effects are worse than my minor ailment.

Sometimes these trivialities are verbally regurgitated visit after visit, long after I’ve forgotten them. As in, “Are you still suffering from blurred vision?”

I respond, “That was three years ago, and I haven’t accidently poked myself in the eye since then.”

Too often doctors only half listen. Once they hear a certain keyword, they tune out the details that surround it. They leap to a diagnosis or treatment for a problem that isn’t there.

Sometimes when we lie to doctors, it’s simply to keep them from reaching a wrong conclusion and subjecting us to needless tests and costs.

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Ambs Call Center Achieves 2012 CAM-X Award

Ambs Call Center recently achieved the prestigious Award of Excellence for outstanding quality call center service. The honor was determined by the Canadian Call Management Association (CAM-X) and given during their national conference in Victoria, British Columbia. Throughout North America only eighty-three call centers have received this honor, placing Ambs among the best of the best. Additionally, Ambs has earned this recognition for the past three years.

“Here at Ambs Call Center, we are dedicated to our callers and staff. We recognize that excellence is not an act but a habit,” said Aaron Boatin, vice president. “We are committed to giving callers the best possible experience each and every time they contact our clients, ensuring that our agents have the necessary tools and coaching available to them in order to achieve the greatness that our clients and callers deserve.”

The Award of Excellence is a six-month-long “mystery caller” quality assurance program that is designed to independently judge random calls against pre-defined criteria.

Learn more about Ambs Call Center.

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AAACN Joins Nursing Alliance in Supporting the DAISY Foundation

Given what they do, nurses can’t be thanked and honored enough. That is why the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) recently joined an alliance of nursing groups that support the DAISY Foundation, an organization that gives grants and awards to outstanding nurses.

“DAISY Awards are highly respected globally,” said AAACN president Suzanne Wells, MSN, RN. “AAACN is pleased to support the foundation not only because it recognizes extraordinary nurses and offers grants, but because DAISY increases public awareness of nurses’ daily contributions.”

The family of Patrick Barnes, a thirty-three-year-old man who died from the autoimmune disease idiopathic thrombocytopenia, created the DAISY Foundation in 1999 to thank nurses for their compassionate patient care. The DAISY acronym signifies Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The foundation currently works with more than 1,300 healthcare facilities worldwide and, in addition to AAACN, is allied with nine major nursing organizations. The foundation has received over 150,000 nominations and has awarded more than 30,000 DAISY Awards.

As a DAISY “Supportive Association,” AAACN will help promote the foundation by getting its message out to ambulatory care nurses via its website, publications, social media pages, and other platforms. DAISY Foundation co-founders will attend the 2012 AAACN Annual Conference in Las Vegas in April to encourage nurses to bring the foundation’s programs to their institutions.

“We are thrilled to have the support of AAACN,” said Bonnie Barnes, DAISY’s co-founder and president. “Nurses who practice in ambulatory care settings are critical to the healthcare system. The DAISY Award honors nurses in all settings, and AAACN will help us broaden our reach to spotlight nurses who practice outside the hospital.”

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Making Healthy Eating Choices This Holiday Season

Many of the traditional foods of the holiday season – fresh bread, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie – are packed with carbohydrates. Some carbs cause blood sugar to soar more than others. The glycemic index is a helpful tool for choosing good carbs during the holidays and every day, reports the November 2012 Harvard Health Letter.

Blood sugar and insulin levels rise every time you eat something containing carbohydrates. How high they rise – and how quickly – depends on the food. White rice has almost the same effect as eating pure sugar – a quick, high spike in blood sugar and insulin, followed by an equally fast drop. Brown rice and other whole grains have slower, smaller effects.

The glycemic index captures these changes by rating the effect of a specific amount of a food on blood sugar compared with the same amount of pure glucose. The lower the glycemic index, the slower the rise in blood sugar. “Glycemic index categories can be very helpful for people trying to choose a healthy diet,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Over the past three decades, researchers have measured the glycemic index of several thousand foods. You can find a list of the glycemic index values of 100 foods on the Harvard Health website.

Read the full-length article here: “Choosing Good Carbs with the Glycemic Index

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New Core Curriculum for Ambulatory Care Nurses

New and experienced nurses will advance their ambulatory care and telehealth nursing practice with the latest Core Curriculum for Ambulatory Care Nursing, 3rd Edition, from the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN).

AAACN recognizes that the ambulatory care nursing specialty changes rapidly, and its Core Curriculum reflects that change. Updated from cover to cover, the book features new chapters on perioperative care, the changing role of the ambulatory care nurse with medical homes, transitional care, and complementary and alternative therapies. Additionally, revised and enhanced content reflects material from the ambulatory care nursing certification exam, with an expanded focus on clinical care and telehealth practice.

Core Curriculum is the most comprehensive body of knowledge for the ambulatory care nursing specialty. Nurses can use it to develop standards, policies, and procedures, orient nurses transitioning into an ambulatory care setting, enhance educational materials and programs, prepare for the ambulatory care nursing certification exam, and much more.

“The Core Curriculum can help you and your staff members provide the highest level of ambulatory and telehealth nursing care,” said editor Candia Baker Laughlin, MS, RN-BC. “It is a tremendous resource for administrators, educators, managers, and staff.”

Core Curriculum for Ambulatory Care Nursing, 3rd Edition, offers over thirty hours of continuing nursing education credit that AAACN members can earn for free. The book retails for $99, with a special price of $79 for AAACN members, plus shipping and handling. Visit the AAACN Store to order.

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Book Released: Medical Terminology Decoded

Medical Terminology Decoded, Second Edition, is now available on Amazon.com. This book can help readers grasp the concept of medical words that are used every day in hospitals, clinics, universities, or any profession that requires an understanding of medicine. This textbook contains the same material used to teach students at the university level. Medical Terminology Decoded teaches the importance of understanding prefixes, suffixes, and root words that are combined to create words related to the medical world.

Not every physician is like Dr. Oz on television. Most doctors use complex or strange words when explaining things. If you are a new healthcare staff member and need a review of medical terminology in order to fit in with your newly acquired healthcare position, this book can help. Now there is no reason to be intimidated by the language of medicine; this textbook will eliminate any doubts you may have about medical terms.

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Five9 Hires Experienced Marketing Chief David Milam

Five9, a cloud-based contact center software provider, added industry veteran David Milam to its executive team. “Adoption of cloud-based solutions in the contact center is increasing rapidly. As our business accelerates, hiring David is the next step in building a world-class enterprise cloud software company. David’s industry and marketing expertise, coupled with his leadership skills and passion, make him a great asset to Five9,” said Mike Burkland, Five9 president and CEO.

A seasoned marketing executive, Milam brings extensive expertise in marketing enterprise and cloud software to his new role at Five9. “Five9’s cloud-based solution is deployed in thousands of contact centers,” said Milam. “The contact center industry’s appetite for cloud-based solutions is at an inflection point.”

Among Five9’s cloud-based contact center software is a healthcare and medical appointment reminder package.Save