All posts by 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.

Attitude Is Key for Success

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Standing groggy-eyed in a fast-food restaurant, contemplating my breakfast options, the positive, friendly demeanor of the girl behind the counter captured my attention. Suddenly she saw someone out of the corner of her eye, and her smile widened. “Good morning Jimmy,” she called out. I assumed Jimmy was a friend.

I was wrong. Jimmy was an older man with a weathered face and considerable limp. He headed straight to an open space at the counter and with much effort, produced a handful of change cupped in his twisted hands. He spilled a few coins on the counter; the girl collected them and rang up an unspoken order.

Then she poured his coffee, meticulously mixed in sugar and cream, topped it off, popped on a lid, and presented it to a grateful Jimmy – all with a smile. She did this with all the care of someone making her own cup. She served Jimmy happily, doing much more than was expected. Her actions framed the rest of my day. I can only guess what it did for Jimmy’s.

I suspect her attitude of cheerfully going the extra mile was so much a part of her that it had become habit. What a difference her positive attitude made for Jimmy and me, as well as for the other customers and her co-workers.

Do you have someone like this young lady in your call center? What if all your staff could be like her? Caller satisfaction would jump, complaints and problems would drop, and your call center would be an even better place to work.

Whether it’s pouring coffee or answering the phone, employees with positive attitudes make a huge difference.

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

The November 2014 Issue

Attitude Is Key

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Standing groggy-eyed in a fast-food restaurant, contemplating my breakfast options, the positive, friendly demeanor of the girl behind the counter captured my attention. Suddenly she saw someone out of the corner of her eye, and her smile widened. “Good morning Jimmy,” she called out. I assumed Jimmy was a friend.

I was wrong. Jimmy was an older man with a weathered face and considerable limp. He headed straight to an open space at the counter and with much effort, produced a handful of change cupped in his twisted hands. He spilled a few coins on the counter; the girl collected them and rang up an unspoken order.

Then she poured his coffee, meticulously mixed in sugar and cream, topped it off, popped on a lid, and presented it to a grateful Jimmy – all with a smile. She did this with all the care of someone making her own cup. She served Jimmy happily, doing much more than was expected. Her actions framed the rest of my day. I can only guess what it did for Jimmy’s.

I suspect her attitude of cheerfully going the extra mile was so much a part of her that it had become habit. What a difference her positive attitude made for Jimmy and me, as well as for the other customers and her co-workers.

Do you have someone like this young lady in your call center? What if all your staff could be like her? Caller satisfaction would jump, complaints and problems would drop, and your call center would be an even better place to work.

Whether it’s pouring coffee or answering the phone, employees with positive attitudes make a huge difference.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Medical Call Center News. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Sound Telecom Builds Out Website with Secure Messaging Solutions

Sound Telecom added a section to their website to address secure messaging for medical professionals. The use of text messaging is on the rise, but SMS text messages are not an intrinsically secure form of communication. Healthcare organizations must abide by HIPAA and HITECH and safeguard information. They put themselves at risk if they are not using truly secure messaging platforms. Protection of information and keeping compliant with federal regulations are the two biggest reasons to pursue secure messaging.

Sound Telecom, providers of medical answering services for hundreds of healthcare professionals, has been working with the leaders in the secure messaging arena to ensure the secure communication of information. This is not limited to relaying messages from the answering service to the organization but also allows companies to communicate securely throughout their own ranks.

Sound Telecom feels strongly about the importance of secure messaging and is doing everything they can to help their customers be prepared and stay ahead of regulations and the competition.


Delta Dental of Michigan Contact Center Achieves Certification

The Delta Dental of Michigan customer contact center has been certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal, a leading contact center research and consulting organization. “Only the top 10 percent of those benchmarked annually achieve this distinction,” said BenchmarkPortal CEO Bruce Belfiore. “Achieving Center of Excellence certification is an acknowledgment of strong management and leadership in the call center industry.”

To achieve certification as a Center of Excellence, a company must undergo a rigorous benchmarking process that compares the organization’s operational metrics to those of its peers using the world’s largest database of contact center metrics. During this process, BenchmarkPortal experts audit and verify key data from the contact center applying for certification.

Key performance indicators, such as first call resolution, cost per call, call waiting time, customer satisfaction, agent satisfaction, and utilization of human resources are considered. BenchmarkPortal scientifically gauges how the contact center compares to other centers in the same industry.

The certification indicates that Delta Dental of Michigan “delivers superior customer service within a responsible cost structure,” according to Belfiore. “A great contact center operation reflects its management’s passion for balancing the demands of high quality and low costs. Delta Dental of Michigan has shown its ability to achieve that balance through its objective performance metrics. We have validated its metrics and have certified that Delta Dental of Michigan is, indeed, among the best in its industry.”

Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and its affiliates in Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Tennessee collectively are among the largest dental plan administrators in the nation.


AAACN White Paper: Nurse Residency Programs Urgently Needed

The specialty of ambulatory care nursing could be especially hard-hit by a predicted shortage in the nursing workforce. To help meet the challenge, the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing has released a white paper, The Need for an Ambulatory Nurse Residency Program. The paper outlines the need for a formalized, competency-based nurse residency program for all nurses new to ambulatory practice.

According to AAACN, implementing such residencies would both meet workforce needs and fully prepare RNs for the complex and demanding environment of ambulatory care.

Available online, The Need for an Ambulatory Nurse Residency Program was written by the AAACN Ambulatory Nursing Taskforce for all RNs practicing in ambulatory care settings: nursing staff, educators in service and academia, managers, and administrators. The need for ambulatory RN residency programs is intensified by:

  • The gap between nursing education and clinical, hands-on practice to put into context what nurses learn in the classroom.
  • High turnover rates among new graduate nurses and the toll this takes on nursing staff, patient care, and organizational finances.
  • Complex, stressful environments unique to ambulatory care that contribute to patient safety concerns, practice errors, and turnover.
  • The future need for more ambulatory RNs with a looming shortage and with few practices hiring new RN graduates.
  • Variables in ambulatory orientation and need for standardization to ensure a competent and confident ambulatory RN.


Communicate with More Customers via a Multilingual Answering Service

Sound Telecom published an article detailing how multilingual answering services work and the ways organizations can use them to their advantage.

Sound Telecom states that there are 30 million people in the United States whose primary language is not English, and that number will grow in coming years. Businesses that are not equipped to service potential clients and existing customers who speak other languages aren’t setting themselves up for success. The piece explores the mechanics of how multilingual answering services work and why organizations should consider working with a call center that can provide such services.

In “How Multilingual Answering Services Work,” author Andrew Tillery explains that Sound Telecom supports more than 220 different languages. To do this, they tap a third party translation service to speak with callers, respond appropriately, and gather needed information. However, there is one language other than English that Sound Telecom handles in-house. The BPO identified the Hispanic population as one that would make up 20 percent of all people in the US within the next few years, so they put together a team of bilingual answering service agents to handle Spanish/English accounts.

“Building out this multilingual answering service offering was a no-brainer for us with the ability to communicate with more people in their native language,” Tillery stated. “Enhancing customer service and growing businesses is what we are all about, and so is this program.”

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Customer Service Lessons From My Optometrist

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Being farsighted and using a computer all day makes glasses a necessity. Imagine my dismay while cleaning my glasses when I heard a snap and a lens fell out. I arrived at my optometrist’s office as the doors opened.

“Can you fix them?” I asked.

The technician replied that, short of an eye exam, new lenses, and a new frame, the only option was sending the broken frame out for repair. “It will take a few days, hopefully by Saturday.” He put my lenses in an ill-fitting loaner frame. “We’ll call you when your frames come back.”

I confirmed the plan at the front desk. “Yes,” she said, “we’ll call you when they come in.”

Saturday came, but without a call. Monday the office was closed. On Tuesday morning I left a message on their answering machine. No one called back. Wednesday I called again. “Yeah, they’re here. You can stop in any time.”

When I arrived, the technician switched my lenses from the loader frame to my newly repaired one.

When he finished, I said, “Here are the lenses from my old prescription. Can you put them in another frame – any frame – so that I can have a backup pair?”

After much fruitless discussion, he ended the conversation with, “Sorry, we can’t help you,” and walked away.

Two days later, I went to a different optometrist. This office was closer, easier to get to, and had free parking at the door. I walked in, explained the situation to the receptionist. In a few minutes, I was greeted by an empathetic young lady. She said she would do her best to find a frame for my old lenses. Since they were busy, I left my old lenses and left.

I returned the next afternoon. “I’m really pleased with how they turned out,” she said. She only charged me for the frames; there was no labor fee. I got a free case and a discount, too.

By giving poor customer service, my eye doctor lost a loyal patient; by going the extra mile, someone else gained one.

What does your call center do to go the extra mile for your callers and patients?

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

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The September 2014 Issue

My Optometrist Ordeal

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Being farsighted and using a computer all day makes glasses a necessity. Imagine my dismay while cleaning my glasses when I heard a snap and a lens fell out. I arrived at my optometrist’s office as the doors opened.

“Can you fix them?” I asked.

The technician replied that, short of an eye exam, new lenses, and a new frame, the only option was sending the broken frame out for repair. “It will take a few days, hopefully by Saturday.” He put my lenses in an ill-fitting loaner frame. “We’ll call you when your frames come back.”

I confirmed the plan at the front desk. “Yes,” she said, “we’ll call you when they come in.”

Saturday came, but without a call. Monday the office was closed. On Tuesday morning I left a message on their answering machine. No one called back. Wednesday I called again. “Yeah, they’re here. You can stop in any time.”

When I arrived, the technician switched my lenses from the loader frame to my newly repaired one.

When he finished, I said, “Here are the lenses from my old prescription. Can you put them in another frame – any frame – so that I can have a backup pair?”

After much fruitless discussion, he ended the conversation with, “Sorry, we can’t help you,” and walked away.

Two days later, I went to a different optometrist. This office was closer, easier to get to, and had free parking at the door. I walked in, explained the situation to the receptionist. In a few minutes, I was greeted by an empathetic young lady. She said she would do her best to find a frame for my old lenses. Since they were busy, I left my old lenses and left.

I returned the next afternoon. “I’m really pleased with how they turned out,” she said. She only charged me for the frames; there was no labor fee. I got a free case and a discount, too.

By giving poor customer service, my eye doctor lost a loyal patient; by going the extra mile, someone else gained one.

What does your call center do to go the extra mile for your callers and patients?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Medical Call Center News. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Sound Telecom Releases Article on Secure Messaging for the Medical Industry

Sound Telecom, a telecommunications company offering answering services, call center solutions, and cloud-based business communication systems, unveiled an article titled “Three Things You Need to Know about HIPAA-compliant Secure Text Messaging.” The piece examines medical messaging and what healthcare professionals need to do to remain compliant with HIPAA and HITECH requirements.

Brian Gabriel, the author of the article and COO at Sound Telecom, confirms that the use of text messaging is growing substantially and its usage within the medical community is rapidly rising. However, standard text messaging is not intrinsically secure communication, and even many “secure messaging platforms” are not HIPAA-compliant. Those in the medical field who share patient information via text on a platform that is not compliant are putting patient information at risk and leaving themselves open to all kinds of legal issues.

The article dives into the elements surrounding secure messaging for medical professionals – from what technically makes a platform compliant to what can happen in a lawsuit if a covered entity is found in violation of the regulation. “With close to 90 percent of physicians using smartphones in the workplace and more than 80 percent of healthcare providers regularly texting patient health information (PHI), there are lots of fingers in the text messaging pie,” Gabriel states.

In the article, he mentions steps a secure messaging platform uses to stay HIPAA compliant. He also highlights a handful of providers of these services, while warning against others that claim to be secure but are not compliant. “As a healthcare provider, you need to know the difference,” Gabriel adds.

With the rise in text messaging in the medical field, the time has come for the healthcare industry to get serious about using compliant platforms to communicate PHI. There are legitimate solutions, so there is no reason not to use them to protect patients, stay compliant, and continue to take advantage of technology that makes the communication of information easy.

Using Electronic Health Records to Support Hospital Medication Reconciliation

While electronic health records (EHRs) can help standardize medication reconciliation for hospitalized patients, data quality, technical problems, and workflow issues continue to pose challenges, according to a new qualitative study from the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Institute for Health Care Reform (NIHCR).

Designed to reduce errors, medication reconciliation is a systematic way to ensure accurate patient medication lists at admission, during a hospitalization, and at discharge. Previous research found unintended medication discrepancies are common, affecting up to 70 percent of hospital patients, with almost a third of discrepancies potentially causing patient harm.

Despite hospital accreditation and other requirements, use of medication reconciliation has lagged for many reasons, including insufficient physician engagement (which stems, in part, from lack of professional consensus about which physician is responsible for managing a patient’s medication list) and the value of medication reconciliation as a clinical tool to improve care.

Conducted for NIHCR by researchers at the former Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) – Joy M. Grossman, Ph.D., Rebecca Gourevitch, and Dori A. Cross – the study examined how nineteen hospitals across the United States were using EHRs to support medication reconciliation. Key challenges to effective medication reconciliation include improving access to reliable medication histories, refining EHR usability, engaging physicians more fully, and routinely sharing patient information with the next providers of care.

Delta Dental Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Recognition

Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana has been certified as a Center of Excellence by BenchmarkPortal. The Center of Excellence recognition is one of the most prestigious awards in the customer service and support industry.

“We are very proud that our customer service call center has received this recognition,” said Laura Czelada, president and CEO or Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. “This award demonstrates the hard work our call center employees do every day to provide outstanding service to our customers across Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.”

Contact centers achieve the Center of Excellence distinction based on best-practice metrics drawn from the world’s largest database of objective and quantitative data, which is audited and validated by BenchmarkPortal.

The Center of Excellence award recognizes customer service call centers that rank in the top 10 percent of call centers surveyed. To earn the award, call centers must demonstrate cost-effective service solutions and exceptional service performance.

“We certified Delta Dental’s customer care operations as a Center of Excellence after evaluating the company’s effectiveness and efficiency in interacting with their customers,” said Bruce Belfiore, CEO of BenchmarkPortal. “We applaud their commitment to superior customer service.”


Southeast Alabama Medical Center Slashes CHF Readmission Rates to 13 Percent

Mere months into a post-discharge follow-up program for its congestive heart failure (CHF) patient population, Dothan-based Southeast Alabama Medical Center experienced a significant and historic decline in its thirty-day re-admission rates, beating out the national average by 10 percent. Since its inception in October 2013, the hospital’s CHF thirty-day re-admission rates continued to fall at a consistent pace month after month, according to the program’s chief overseer, Kevin Ross, RN, clinical coordinator and call center manager for the 420-bed regional facility.

“We had the most CHF patients hospitalized in January and the least amount re-admitted,” he notes. The national average for CHF thirty-day re-admission has been creeping up over the last few years and is currently at 23 percent, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Of Southeast Alabama’s sixty-two CHF patients admitted in January, only eight patients were re-admitted within thirty days of discharge, a 13 percent re-admission rate. Ross attributes much of the success of Southeast Alabama’s low CHF re-admission rate to a customized daily follow-up routine supported by the Clinical Solutions Readmission Management Module.


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Stateside BPO provides inbound, outbound, discharge, immunization, appointment reminders, and vaccine reminders; after hours available. We employ highly educated people with physical disabilities and medical experience to handle these calls 24/7/365. Contact Jim Musial at jmusial@statesidebpo.com or 239-220-5209.

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The July 2014 Issue

Is Universal Call Distribution the Answer?

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

I’ll admit it; I’m an idealist. I think life should be fair; everyone deserves equal opportunity. That’s why I favor impartiality when distributing calls in the call center, with each call handled in the order received and going to the next available operator: universal call distribution.

However, we must remember that, whether for profit or nonprofit, a call center must function with a business mindset. Therefore, doesn’t it make the most sense to give priority to the calls with the most value?

I propose – in partial jest but with thought-provoking seriousness – we consider a different model. Let’s deviate from universal call-distribution idealism. Instead, let’s use the worth or anticipated worth of each call to route it.

A person looking for a family doctor represents a lifetime of service and billing opportunities. Perhaps answer that call first. It’s not as important as the person wanting to make an appointment – that has less value. Of course, some procedures are worth much more than others, with heart bypass surgery ranking much higher than an annual checkup, which is worth more than an appointment for a sore throat. Of least importance might be calls for information readily available through others means, as well as the person who skips automated routing or messaging by pressing zero.

Then, to be bold, let’s tweak calls by giving higher priority to people who are nice to staff and don’t complain, with lessor importance given to rude callers and complainers. After all, if a call will go unanswered, wouldn’t you prefer it be a mean person instead of a nice one? Lastly, factor in payment history. Why make it a priority to answer a call from someone who has trouble paying or won’t pay at all?

I’m still not sure how serious I am with all this, but it sure merits consideration.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Medical Call Center News. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Call 4 Health Adds Maryland Location

Call 4 Health has opened another call center location in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. “We celebrated our seventeenth anniversary by starting a new chapter and opening another office in Linthicum Heights, Maryland,” said Bryan Weinstein, Call 4 Health VP of business development and contracts. “[It was] on the same day seventeen years later!”


Nationwide Call Center Releases Article on How Obamacare Affects Businesses

Many businesses have questions about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects their organization. So, Sound Telecom tapped Sydney Morgan Diamond, their resident expert on the matter, to create an article that would help clarify the situation.

The piece opens with a brief background of the law, how the delays have played out, and the basic principles upon which the Affordable Care Act is founded. It touches on how the law affects individuals, insurance companies, and business, but it focuses on Obamacare issues relevant to companies.

The article explains how Obamacare affects businesses differently depending on the size and structure. It examines five tiers, from self-employed individuals to companies with 100 or more full-time equivalents, explaining how the Affordable Care Act affects each type, what they must to do abide by the law, and the most recent dates for compliance. Also, a helpful segment outlines how to calculate full-time equivalents so businesses know which category they fall into.

Finally, the article notes seven interesting items about the Affordable Care Act that also affect companies. For example, if one company buys another company but elects to maintain separate legal entities, the law still looks at the combined number of employees to determine which category the business falls under.

“I recommend that every company, every business, no matter what the size or how many employees it has, ensures that it has someone to keep abreast of new knowledge and changing requirements regarding Obamacare,” stated Diamond.

AnswerPro Honored with Business Excellence Award of Merit

AnswerPro Limited received a 2014 Kansas Regional Business Excellence Award of Merit, according to Doug Gregg, general manager. The awards were presented during Kansas Business Appreciation Month by the Kansas Department of Commerce. Criteria for award selection included proven business growth and development, outstanding business practices, and a dedication to community leadership and betterment. One hundred businesses across Kansas were honored in four categories: manufacturing/distribution, service, retail, and hospital/non-profit. AnswerPro was recognized in the service category.

AnswerPro Limited is a customer-focused, technology-based communications center for business. Founded in 1956 as Lee’s Secretarial Service, today AnswerPro specializes in private-sector critical response for healthcare-related businesses, including physicians, nurses, home health providers, and other medical facilities. Additional client segments encompass private companies ranging from manufacturers and small businesses to contractors and delivery services. AnswerPro offers “front office” service to customers so they don’t need to go to the trouble and expense of setting up a traditional office.

“We view ourselves as long-term partners to our clients. Our commitment to them includes seeking to better understand their communications needs and then providing service that exceeds their expectations,” added Gregg.

For more information, contact Ashley Cook at 913-348-1212 or ashleyc@answerprolimited.com.


A Nurse’s Guide to End-of-Life Care

How do you support and provide the best care for dying patients and their families?

Although vital components of patient care, this poignant question is rarely answered with conviction in the healthcare industry. In the new book To Comfort Always: A Nurse’s Guide to End-of-Life Care, Second Edition, Linda Norlander, MS, BSN, RN, helps nurses navigate end-of-life care and communication by serving as a skilled clinician, advocate, and guide.

“All nurses experience death either professionally or personally, so all nurses should have a basic knowledge of how to care for dying patients,” Norlander said.

Published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), this newly revised version provides readers with additional tools and resources and expanded content on chronic illness, dementia, care planning, clinical management, ethics, suffering, and grief to empower nurses to serve as advocates for both the patient and family members.

Norlander is an award-winning author and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow with more than thirty years of experience in nursing. She has dedicated her career to providing better care to patients at the end of their lives, inspired by the poorly managed medical care she experienced when her mother was ill.

“Our population is aging and experiencing more long-term chronic illnesses, including dementia,” Norlander said. “These all are eventually fatal, and we need to be able to care for these patients in a compassionate and holistic way.”

Classified Ads

Stateside BPO provides inbound, outbound, discharge, immunization, appointment reminders, vaccine reminders, and after-hours availability. We employ highly educated people with physical disabilities and medical experience to handle these calls 24/7/365. Contact Jim Musial at jmusial@statesidebpo.com or 239-220-5209.

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Is Universal Call Distribution the Answer for Your Call Center?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I’ll admit it; I’m an idealist. I think life should be fair; everyone deserves equal opportunity. That’s why I favor impartiality when distributing calls in the call center, with each call handled in the order received and going to the next available operator: universal call distribution.

However, we must remember that, whether for profit or nonprofit, a call center must function with a business mindset. Therefore, doesn’t it make the most sense to give priority to the calls with the most value?

I propose – in partial jest but with thought-provoking seriousness – we consider a different model. Let’s deviate from universal call-distribution idealism. Instead, let’s use the worth or anticipated worth of each call to route it.

A person looking for a family doctor represents a lifetime of service and billing opportunities. Perhaps answer that call first. It’s not as important as the person wanting to make an appointment – that has less value. Of course, some procedures are worth much more than others, with heart bypass surgery ranking much higher than an annual checkup, which is worth more than an appointment for a sore throat. Of least importance might be calls for information readily available through others means, as well as the person who skips automated routing or messaging by pressing zero.

Then, to be bold, let’s tweak calls by giving higher priority to people who are nice to staff and don’t complain, with lessor importance given to rude callers and complainers. After all, if a call will go unanswered, wouldn’t you prefer it be a mean person instead of a nice one? Lastly, factor in payment history. Why make it a priority to answer a call from someone who has trouble paying or won’t pay at all?

I’m still not sure how serious I am with all this, but it sure merits consideration.

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

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