About Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly. Peter DeHaan’s personal website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages.

The March 2017 Issue



We Live in Exciting Times

By Peter L DeHaan, Ph.D.

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorTen years ago, whenever I’d mention medical call centers to people outside the industry, I’d get blank stares, as if I was talking in another language. My have things changed. Now many people know what I’m talking about when I mention healthcare call centers, while the rest usually give a nod of understanding once I give them an example.

Medical call centers will continue to play an important role in the provision of healthcare services and support. And their significance will grow over time to meet increased patient needs, cost-containment pressures, and expectations for improved quality of care. We live in exciting times. This industry is never boring, that much is sure.

As our industry grows, Medical Call Center News will grow with it, too. We plan to provide you with expanded coverage and more content in 2017 and beyond.

To make this possible, a group of leading vendors has given their support to Medical Call Center News. These sponsors—patrons, if you will—provide the means for us to do what we do:

If you’re familiar with these companies, please join us in thanking them. And if you’re not familiar with them, please go to their websites to learn more.

Thank you

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat.


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Email Valerie to place your classified ad in the next issue. Only $49 for 50 words.


Enhance Your Communication Skills

By Dr. David Thompson

Using verbal communication is known to decrease patient stress, while increasing satisfaction, rates of compliance, and symptom resolution. Consider these steps to enhance your communication effectiveness when talking with patients:

  1. Slow Down: What you say is familiar to you, but it’s likely new to the patient. Make sure they have the best chance to hear you by talking slower and more deliberately.
  2. Use Plain Language: Explain things in patient-friendly language. Instead of “chief complaint,” say “reason for calling.”
  3. Include Visual Aids: Use pictures or drawings to explain concepts. For telehealth encounters, using a diagnostic platform with an “image recommended” prompt may help patients who have trouble describing what their condition is. On the telephone this is hard to do, but not impossible. Paint word pictures or send a follow up email with relevant images or links.
  4. Explain Important Concepts: Convey the most important concepts, and use repetition to enhance patient recall.
  5. Teach-Back: Ask patients to repeat your instructions back to you. Better yet have them explain what they need to do.
  6. Encourage Questions: Create a shame-free environment, enlist family and friends, and promote the Ask-Me-3 (What is my main problem? What do I need to do about the problem? Why is it important for me to do this?)
  7. Body Language: Physical behaviors like sitting rather than standing can improve communication. Body language also applies when talking over the phone. Sit up straight, smile, and relax your shoulders.
  8. Keep it Simple: For written communication, use plain language that is appropriate for your patients’ age and culture. Write at, or below, a sixth grade reading level. Use short paragraphs or bulleted lists, type in a large font, and use words with one or two syllables. These are great tips when sending emails to follow up on phone calls.

Follow these eight tips to enhance your communications skills.

David Thompson, MD, serves as CEO and chief medical officer for Health Navigator, Inc.


 Healthcare Call Center News

TriageLogic Announces Continuwell

TriageLogic Management and Consulting, LLC, launched Continuwell®, a telehealth product for businesses and organizations to decrease employee healthcare expenses and reduce employee sick days. This service is designed to complement and enhance existing wellness or telemedicine offerings already in place or as a turnkey solution.

You take care of your patients, but who takes care of your staff? When your patients have a medical issue arise, they call your office or triage line to evaluate their symptoms and get professional advice on what steps to take next. Why not extend triage services to your staff by making Continuwell part of your employee benefits package?

Continuwell is a telephone healthcare service with a network of experienced registered nurses and doctors. Continuwell provides 24/7 on demand nurses and doctors to evaluate employees or members and determine appropriate care for their symptoms.

Continuwell differentiates itself with its nurse-first model, where nurses use doctor-written guided protocols to evaluate callers and determine the care needed to resolve their symptoms. Their nurses are able to provide the necessary care without the need of a doctor in three out of four cases, saving the cost of a telehealth doctor visit and making the system affordable for employers and employees.

For more information call 844-258-4325 or email info@continuwell.com.

Record Revenue Helps Usher in Customer Direct’s 20th Anniversary

Customer Direct—a provider of outsourced contact center services in multiple industries, including healthcare—has entered its twentieth year of operations on the heels of record revenues.

What started in 1997 as an idea to deliver best-in-class, onshore, competitively-priced contact center services, has since grown into one of North America’s leading outsourced contact centers, with facilities in St. Ann and Arnold, Missouri, as well as an extensive work-from-home program. In addition, Customer Direct’s footprint is expected to grow with a significant expansion planned for the first half of 2017.

Based in St. Ann, Customer Direct provides multi-channel, multi-lingual Live Agent reservations, customer care, technical, and back-office operations support to leading companies throughout the U.S., and the world. Industries served include hospitality, publishing, healthcare, IT, retail, and e-commerce.

Spok to Add 60 Employees in Minnesota to Support Accelerated Solution Development

Spok, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Spok Holdings, Inc. announced the company’s expansion of its Minneapolis/St. Paul presence by approximately 45 percent, with the addition of more than sixty employees over the next two years, the majority of which will be added in 2017. As part of Spok’s ongoing capital allocation strategy, which includes making key strategic investments in its product solutions and infrastructure, the company is increasing its team to enhance Spok Care Connect®, a healthcare communications platform that is transforming how hospitals coordinate care.

The newly hired associates will be based in Spok’s Eden Prairie, Minnesota, location. There, they will join the company’s collaborative teams that work with technology to create innovative product solutions. Healthcare organizations around the world rely on Spok to improve clinical communications by delivering information to care teams when and where it matters most to improve patient outcomes. Spok® solutions help hospitals evolve their communications strategy and technology from disparate systems to a single communications platform, which supports clinical workflows and allows for the seamless flow of data among departments.


A Thought For Today

“Would the boy you were be proud of the man you are?” -Laurence J. Peter

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We Live in Exciting Times: The Advance of Medical Call Centers

By Peter L DeHaan, Ph.D.

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorTen years ago, whenever I’d mention medical call centers to people outside the industry, I’d get blank stares, as if I was talking in another language. My have things changed. Now many people know what I’m talking about when I mention healthcare call centers, while the rest usually give a nod of understanding once I give them an example.

Medical call centers will continue to play an important role in the provision of healthcare services and support. And their significance will grow over time to meet increased patient needs, cost-containment pressures, and expectations for improved quality of care. We live in exciting times. This industry is never boring, that much is sure.

As our industry grows, Medical Call Center News will grow with it, too. We plan to provide you with expanded coverage and more content in 2017 and beyond.

To make this possible, a group of leading vendors has given their support to Medical Call Center News. These sponsors—patrons, if you will—provide the means for us to do what we do:

If you’re familiar with these companies, please join us in thanking them. And if you’re not familiar with them, please go to their websites to learn more.

Thank you

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat.

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The January 2017 Issue



Happy New Year!

By Peter L DeHaan, Ph.D.

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorIn the last issue of Medical Call Center News, I encouraged you to work hard so you could finish 2016 strong. I hope that was the case and you were able to complete projects and tick items off your to-do list.

Though I accomplished much as the year wound down, I did not complete my number one goal for 2016. And this was despite blocking out the week between Christmas and New Years to wrap up my project. Alas the time filled up with critical yearend activity and work on my goal languished. I hope you had a different outcome for your projects (or your scheduled time off).

While I am disappointed over not completing all of my goals for last year, I’m happy for what I did finish and know that it’s important to set challenging goals that stretch me. And I was stretched in 2016, but it also shaped up to be a great year.

For 2017, I have again set challenging goals and will push myself to achieve them. In doing so, I hope that this year will be even better.

And may you be able to say the same thing!

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat.


Classified Ads

Content Marketing: Need content for your blog or website? Let Peter DeHaan, editor of Medical Call Center News, provide it for you. Rates are only $150 per page or post. Themes include healthcare call centers and customer service, as well as website content. Email Peter to learn more.

Email Valerie to place your classified ad in the next issue. Only $49 for 50 words.


Addressing Health Literacy Challenges in Telehealth Settings

By Dr. David Thompson

For the estimated 89 million people in the United States who have limited literacy, managing everyday healthcare needs can be confusing and complicated. Health literacy, as defined by the Institute of Medicine, is the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information, services, and instructions. A person’s health literacy can be affected by their general literacy, age, job, insurance status, education, income level, or familiarity with English.

Physicians and healthcare professionals may have trouble identifying patients who have limited literacy, especially in telehealth encounters where clinicians and patients aren’t face-to-face. Cues that can alert providers to patients who may need extra help understanding their situation and care plan include missed appointments, lack of follow-through with laboratory or imaging tests, lack of response to referrals, and noncompliance with medication regimens.

Healthcare providers can make their office environment more supportive for all patients—not just those with limited health literacy—by considering the following factors:

  • Be Willing to Help: Telehealth and clinical staff can foster health literacy by offering assistance and providing information.
  • Schedule Appointments: Have real people schedule appointments, help patients prepare, and collect only essential information.
  • Office Check-in: Provide patient forms in easy-to-read formats and language, and be willing to help them complete forms.
  • Referrals and Supplementary Tests: Review referral information with patients, provide directions to the referral site, and offer guidance on insurance issues. It may also help to implement a telehealth platform that provides printable summaries of patient encounters for other physicians.
  • Provide Clear Instructions: Review important information and provide easy-to-read education materials. For telehealth providers, diagnostic platforms can immediately connect patients to aftercare instructions and informational resources.

Healthcare providers should also follow universal health literacy guidelines and consider licensing a telehealth platform that uses patient-friendly, plain language that can be coded into medical terminology. Such tools enable patients and providers to understand the telehealth encounter and related information in familiar terms.

David Thompson, MD, serves as CEO and chief medical officer for Health Navigator, Inc.


Survey Finds Increase in Mobility Planning but Gaps in Critical Infrastructure

Spok, Inc. released the findings of their fifth annual mobility strategies in healthcare survey. The survey is designed to assess mobile workflow enablement progress and trends in hospitals across the country. More than 550 healthcare organizations responded to the questions about mobile strategy documentation, bring your own device (BYOD) policies, communications infrastructure, and information security.

“The majority of hospitals and health systems are formalizing a mobility strategy, which helps define the goals and framework for all mobile-related projects,” said Vincent D. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Spok Holdings, Inc.

The survey shows that mobile strategy plans and use cases continue to grow, with an emphasis on smartphones and apps. It also reveals there is a large gap in the infrastructure necessary to support these strategies and devices, including wireless network coverage and enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions. “Fifty-four percent of respondents answered that Wi-Fi coverage is a current challenge for mobile device users, and 47 percent cited cellular coverage challenges. This gap will be critical for hospitals to address in an effort to mitigate security risks and enhance communications,” said Hemant Goel, president of Spok, Inc.

Survey findings reveal that the diversity of mobile devices is increasing as new types of devices (such as wearables) are added to the mix and existing tools remain firmly entrenched in clinicians’ workflows. “As the survey demonstrates, pagers continue to play a major role in communications,” added Kelly. “That’s why, as part of our portfolio, we maintain support for the paging demands of the market, including the introduction of our encrypted pager.”

The survey also showed that more hospitals are hiring outside experts to help with clinical mobility, from planning through technology implementations and rollout. “Mobility enablement is far more complicated than just giving users an app,” Goel said.


Healthcare Call Center News

Robert Lancaster Promoted to 1Call Sales Manager: The 1Call Division of Amtelco announced that Robert Lancaster has been promoted to 1Call sales manager for the western region. Robert (Bob) has been working in miSecureMessages product sales for 1Call since joining the company earlier this year. In his new position, Bob will be working with many current customers to ensure they are meeting their ever-expanding healthcare communication needs. Bob will also help new customers find the ideal 1Call communication solutions that meet the specific needs for their organizations.

Jeff Griedl, 1Call vice president of sales, stated, “Bob has already done an amazing job contacting customers to keep them informed about the miSecureMessages encrypted messaging solution. We are thrilled to have Bob working with more of our customers to present all of the 1Call solutions available for healthcare organizations.” Bob can be reached at blancaster@1call.com or 877-206-9159.

Health Navigator Partners With ERatHome: Health Navigator announced it has partnered with ERatHome, a network of retail clinics and home-based urgent care services, to expand access to providers and control the flow of medical information between patients and clinicians. As part of the collaboration, Health Navigator will support ERatHome’s Hive application, which is designed to share medical records and treatment history among care teams, provide patients with 24/7 access to doctors, facilitate appointment scheduling, send automated reminders and alerts, and share patient education resources.

Patients in the ERatHome network can use the Hive app to call or schedule a virtual visit with a doctor. Doctors use patient information to make a preliminary diagnosis based on symptoms and suggest the next steps to take. Health Navigator provides a diagnostic decision-support platform that features clinical codes, symptom checking intelligence, and process analysis for clinicians. By integrating Health Navigator’s comprehensive set of codes and analytics, ERatHome provides a more accurate, efficient diagnostic process, which can produce improved outcomes.

Andrew Mellin Named Chief Medical Officer for Spok: Spok Holdings, Inc. announced the appointment of Andrew Mellin, M.D. as Chief Medical Officer. In this new role, Dr. Mellin will be responsible for representing physician’s needs for communications software solutions to drive improvements in provider efficiency and patient care. Dr. Mellin joins recently appointed Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Dr. Nat’e Guyton, in creating a clinical leadership team focused on using communication technologies to enable more effective workflow approaches that complement a health system’s investment in electronic records.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Mellin to our team,” said Vincent D. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of Spok Holdings, Inc. “He is an industry veteran, who brings over twenty years of healthcare experience—both as a physician and executive—to the position, and will play a key role in executing our long-term strategy to achieve growth in all healthcare markets.”


A Thought For Today

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” -Marilyn Monroe

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Finish the Year Strong and Set Goals for Next Year

By Peter L DeHaan, Ph.D.

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorIn the last issue of Medical Call Center News, I encouraged you to work hard so you could finish 2016 strong. I hope that was the case and you were able to complete projects and tick items off your to-do list.

Though I accomplished much as the year wound down, I did not complete my number one goal for 2016. And this was despite blocking out the week between Christmas and New Years to wrap up my project. Alas the time filled up with critical yearend activity and work on my goal languished. I hope you had a different outcome for your projects (or your scheduled time off).

While I am disappointed over not completing all of my goals for last year, I’m happy for what I did finish and know that it’s important to set challenging goals that stretch me. And I was stretched in 2016, but it also shaped up to be a great year.

For 2017, I have again set challenging goals and will push myself to achieve them. In doing so, I hope that this year will be even better.

And may you be able to say the same thing!

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat.

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Don’t Coast: Finish This Year Strong

By Peter L DeHaan, Ph.D.

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorIs seems that 2016 is flying by. Before we know it, we’ll be turning our calendars over to 2017 (metaphorically speaking at least, since few people use paper calendars anymore). Halloween has just past, Thanksgiving will soon be here, followed by Christmas and then New Year’s. January 1, 2017 looms large.

How are you doing on your 2016 project list? If you’re like me your list for this year was more ambitious than the time available to complete it. Yes, I have many projects still to do. Though it’s tempting to coast through the rest of the year, doing only what needs our attention and starting anew on January first, remember that we still have two months left in this year. Let’s make the most of it.

How many of your pending 2016 projects and goals can you complete in the next two months? Make a plan and form a strategy to accomplish as much as you can. Not only will you finish the year with a sense of accomplishment – and relief – but you will also have fewer items to transfer to your 2017 list. (Please tell me that I’m not the only one to do that.)

As we look ahead to the rest of 2016, holidays, days off work, and a new year, remind yourself of one thing for these next eight weeks: finish strong.

The next issue of Medical Call Center News will come out in the New Year on January 3, 2017, and I’ll check with you to see how you did. Until then, remember to finish strong.

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat.

 

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The November 2016 Issue



Finish Strong

By Peter L DeHaan, Ph.D.

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorIs seems that 2016 is flying by. Before we know it, we’ll be turning our calendars over to 2017 (metaphorically speaking at least, since few people use paper calendars anymore). Halloween has just past, Thanksgiving will soon be here, followed by Christmas and then New Year’s. January 1, 2017 looms large.

How are you doing on your 2016 project list? If you’re like me your list for this year was more ambitious than the time available to complete it. Yes, I have many projects still to do. Though it’s tempting to coast through the rest of the year, doing only what needs our attention and starting anew on January first, remember that we still have two months left in this year. Let’s make the most of it.

How many of your pending 2016 projects and goals can you complete in the next two months? Make a plan and form a strategy to accomplish as much as you can. Not only will you finish the year with a sense of accomplishment – and relief – but you will also have fewer items to transfer to your 2017 list. (Please tell me that I’m not the only one to do that.)

As we look ahead to the rest of 2016, holidays, days off work, and a new year, remind yourself of one thing for these next eight weeks: finish strong.

The next issue of Medical Call Center News will come out in the New Year on January 3, 2017, and I’ll check with you to see how you did. Until then, remember to finish strong.

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat.


Classified Ads

Content Marketing: Need content for your blog or website? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates are only $175 per page or post. Themes include healthcare call centers, customer service, general business, and more. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Email Valerie to place your classified ad in our next issue.


Good HIPAA Practices Make for Good Call Center Habits

By Janet Livingston

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has critical ramifications for medical call centers. A lack of compliance with HIPAA regulations can result in monetary damages in the form of fines for security breaches and reputation damages in the form of negative publicity over security violations.

While the full scope of HIPAA best practices are widespread, here are three areas of critical importance.

Address Internal Security: Not only does the call center facility need building security and secured access, but internal security is also a critical issue under HIPAA. Certain areas must be restricted to unauthorized personnel. For example, the operations room should be off limits to visitors and even some ancillary staff. Similarly the technology hubs, such as the computer room and telecommunications center, should be under lockdown at all times and accessible only to authorized technical personnel.

Enforce a Password Policy: Passwords are unpopular but necessary. Good passwords keep personal health information private. Call centers need a thorough password policy that is rigorously imposed. The policy should include periodic password changes, not reusing former passwords, and not sharing passwords with coworkers regardless of the circumstances.

Deploy Shred Bins: While many dream of a truly paperless office, the reality is that despite well-meaning intentions, printed documents that contain sensitive information will still result. This might be through negligence, oversight, or expediency. Regardless, call centers must destroy these paper documents as soon as their usefulness ends. The best solution is to immediately shred such documents in a micro-cut shredder. However, shredders are loud devices that don’t align well with the call center’s need to minimize noise. The solution is to position shred bins at convenient locations throughout the call center and surrounding areas. Authorized personnel will routinely shred the contents of the locked shred bin according to documented security protocols.

These three elements are not only key for HIPAA compliance in healthcare call centers, but they are emerging as call center best practices across all industries.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of healthcare call center and medical answering service staff. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.


 Healthcare Call Center News

Call 4 Health Relocates to Delray Beach: Call 4 Health relocated its headquarters and call center from Boca Raton to a larger facility in Delray Beach, Florida, where it plans to hire more than one hundred employees over the next twelve months. The company was founded in Boca Raton nineteen years ago. Call 4 Health CEO Joseph Pores said the business has grown by more than 50 percent a year each of the last three years. The company ran out of room to grow in Boca Raton, where it occupied 8,000 square feet in several locations. They considered multiple sites from before leasing 17,800 square feet at 2855 South Congress Avenue in Delray Beach.

The call center agents help schedule appointments, field after-hours calls, and operate as a hospital switchboard, among other duties. Most of their calls are inbound, and they’re open 24/7. It cost about $600,000 to renovate the new offices. Pores said it gutted the building and replaced the flooring, lights, and furniture. Its offices include a sound-masking system to dampen the noise in the call center, a mothers’ room, standing desks, and a meditation room. “We were able to design it to suit our needs for the next ten years and beyond,” Pores concluded.

1Call Conference Sets Record: The 1Call 2016 Leadership Conference and Training Seminar set a new record for number of attendees for the second year in a row. Several attendees presented their success stories on topics including “How MergeComm Improves Notification Practices and Increases Efficiencies,” “How to Roll Out miSecureMessages,” “Increasing Agent Productivity with Soft Agent,” and “Best Practices of Applications and Reports.”

Additional leadership topics included, “You’re Never Far From Good Health,” “Improving Workflows with MergeComm,” and “Disaster Planning for Your Call Center.” Attendees learned about the newest Infinity features, the new Genesis software switching solution, MergeComm, and miSecureMessages. Training sessions covered directories, on-call scheduling, and scripting. One of the highlights this year was a trip to the SSM Health Dean Medical Group to see their call center in action. Attend next year’s conference, September 12-14, 2017, in Madison, Wisconsin.


A Thought For Today

“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” -William Butler Yeats


 

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