Category Archives: Issues

The current issue of Medical Call Center News. (Scroll down to see past issues.)

The July 2020 Issue



4 Reasons to Implement New Technology

Now Is the Time to Invest in Your Call Center’s Future

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

Long gone are the days when all you needed was a telephone and a message pad to process calls. For decades call centers have relied on technology to increase efficiency and optimize results. And never has that been truer than right now.

Consider these four reasons to invest in technology for your medical call center.

1. Save Time and Increase Efficiency: Advanced technology can offer time-saving processes that will increase the efficiency of your staff. This means they can do more work in the same time or the same work in less time. If this is the case, you can perform an analysis to calculate your payback period. This is a great approach to cost justify a technology investment.

2. Provide Additional Services: Older equipment can limit the scope of services you provide, but an upgrade may allow you to increase the scope of what you offer to your patients or callers. Again, you can calculate the payback period of your investment.

3. Go Online: Many older systems are premise based, making it difficult to have a distributed workforce or to establish remote work sessions. The present need for people to work at home may never go away, and this development has accelerated the trend toward work-at-home scenarios. Your future may depend on having this flexibility, so make the move today to prepare for tomorrow.

4. Avoid Obsolescence: A final consideration is platform age. Sometimes you take a system as far as it will let you, and then it limits the service you provide to callers. If you’re trying to operate using out-of-date technology, you may not be able to cost justify the investment by calculating the payback period or present it as a strategic move to prepare for the future. But that doesn’t remove the fact that replacing an obsolete system is an essential move if you want to be a viable resource for your organization and callers.

Conclusion: Your call center may already have the best technology available. But remember that systems are always changing, and what’s best today won’t be the best tomorrow. Most call centers, however, have a platform with at least a few areas that need improving. Now is the time to plan to make that happen.

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

 

Featured Sponsor: AccessNurse

AccessNurse

Access Nurse formerly known as the TeamHealth Medical Call Center, is the premier provider of comprehensive medical call center solutions, serving more than 15,000 physicians, healthcare organizations, federally qualified health centers, universities, and health plans across the country. 

AccessNurse provides clients with a wide range of cost-effective healthcare services such as telephone nurse triage, answering services and virtual front desk services, post-discharge programs, and hospital call center partnerships. They are an industry leader in reducing inappropriate or unnecessary utilization of healthcare resources, enhancing risk management, and increasing patient satisfaction. For additional information, visit www.accessnurse24.com or call 844-277-6312.


What Are Triage Levels?

By Dr. Ravi Raheja

Triage levels indicate the appropriate level of care for each patient depending on the symptoms they are experiencing and their medical history. These different triage levels can include dispositions such as “call 911 now,” “go to the emergency room,” “urgent care visit,” “primary care,” “telemedicine visit within 24 to 48 hours,” or more frequently “home care.” 

Determining the appropriate triage level in a quick, effective manor is critical for patient safety, peace of mind, and cost-effective care.

Patient Safety: It may be difficult for a patient who has a symptom to determine by themselves how dangerous their situation really is. A survey conducted by the American Heart Association shows that nearly one out of three adults had symptoms of a stroke but did not call for medical help. Some people tend to ignore symptoms because they are too busy or do not have easy access to a healthcare professional. But ignoring these signs and symptoms can lead to a worse outcome. In the case of a stroke, every minute is critical, and every minute lost can lead to adverse effects that may impact the patient the rest of their life.

Peace of Mind: When a patient is experiencing a symptom, they may also be worried about compounding issues such as the time of the day, other commitments, or the potential cost of care. A triage nurse will review all symptoms that the caller is experiencing, their medical history, and other concerns. The nurse will further assist the patient by creating a plan of care that is reassuring to the caller and provides an independent opinion.

Cost-Effective Care: Cost-effective care is critical due to patients who have high deductibles or who are a part of a self-funded company. Unneeded emergency room visits can run over $2,000 dollars. But on the other hand, not calling for medical help can have lifelong adverse outcomes. Determining the appropriate level of care can prevent a patient from any unnecessary costs or save their life.

Conclusion: Having a nurse triage system helps alleviate the influx of patients into the emergency room and can also be the determining factor to reach the best level of care for the patient. To properly separate a patient’s conditions into levels of severity, ask the right questions in the right order. 

TriageLogic is a URAC-accredited, physician-led provider of top-quality nurse telehealth technology, mobile applications, and medical call center solutions, all with the purpose of encouraging positive patient behavior and improving access to healthcare. Founded in 2006, the TriageLogic Group now serves more than 9,000 physicians and covers over 20 million lives nationwide. 


Healthcare Call Center News

AAACN to Host Virtual 2020 Conference: The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) announced a 2020 virtual conference to be live-streamed on four consecutive Tuesdays beginning July 28, followed by extended on-demand access.

  • July 28, 11 am–6:15 pm ET: preconference sessions
  • August 4, 12 pm–5 pm ET: opening general session on COVID-19 and infectious disease; breakouts
  • August 11, 12 pm–5:30 pm ET: interactive Town Hall on COVID-19; breakouts
  • August 18, 12 pm–5:30 pm ET: breakouts; closing general session on mindfulness

Attendees can earn up to thirteen continuing nursing education (CNE) contact hours for the full conference, plus the opportunity for bonus CNE.

TriageLogic Helps Set Up Remote Triage Nurses: TriageLogic helped Baptist Health set up their nurses to work from home and triage patients remotely using their MyTriageChecklist software.

After identifying Baptist’s needs, in less than two weeks, TriageLogic had Baptist up and running, with nurses ready to triage patients with an organized, effective system.

MyTriageChecklist is a HIPAA compliant telephone nurse triage software to triage and document patient phone calls. The software includes Schmitt-Thompson protocols, which include COVID-19 protocols, regularly updated as the medical community learns as the disease evolves.

Amtelco Wins Top Workplaces 2020 Award: Amtelco received a Top Workplaces 2020 honor and a special award for work/life flexibility by The Wisconsin State Journal. These awards are based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey, which measures fifteen drivers of engaged cultures critical to the success of any organization.

“My father, Bill Curtin, II, founded Amtelco in 1976,” said Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco. “We have always been family-owned and managed through multiple generations of our family who care for and understand our customers’ business.” 

Amtelco’s 1Call healthcare division began in 1997. Hospitals and businesses have used their miSecureMessages secure messaging app widely since 2011.

Email us updates about your healthcare call center for the next issue of Medical Call Center News.


A Thought for Today

“The power to command frequently causes failure to think.” -Barbara Tuchman

The May 2020 Issue



Now Is the Ideal Time to Consider What Happens Next

While Still in the Pandemic Begin Planning for Post-Pandemic

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

During the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare call centers stepped up to take a more prominent role to facilitate patient-facing communications. Though a few missteps may have occurred along the way as they forged into the unknown, overall they met the challenge facing them, ramped up well, and processed more calls than ever. In the short medical calls, centers shined brightly.

Though the worst may be behind us, a long road of uncertainty still lies ahead. But as we catch our breath, let’s also look forward to past the coronavirus crisis to consider what healthcare call centers will look like in the future. They proved to everyone that they can adapt and do more to advance the provision of healthcare services. Let’s build upon this success.

In planning for what happens next, be it a return to normal, a new normal, or a continuation of the crisis, there are three questions every healthcare call center should ask.

1. What Went Well?

There is much to celebrate in how call centers acquitted themselves during this crisis. Note each one of your success areas. Document what contributed to each one and the steps taken to achieve those results. If we’re ever faced with a comparable situation, being able to build on what went well this time will help you to get to where you need to be next time faster.

2. What Could’ve Gone Better?

Next look at the snags that impeded reaching the desired outcomes as quickly as you would’ve liked. These can include redeploying to work-at-home scenarios, managing a distributed workforce, or having the needed policies and procedures in place. Begin working now to make sure these past roadblocks don’t become future inhibitors.

3. How Can You Be Better Prepared?

A common struggle that many call centers face is that their infrastructure didn’t allow the flexibility needed to allow for off-site work or to expand existing capacity. This could entail changes to software licensing or expanding infrastructure. In some cases, however, this might require replacing the on-site legacy system you have now with a more flexible, cloud-based alternative.

The one thing you don’t want to do is to return to business as usual and expect a crisis like this will never recur.

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

Featured Sponsor: LVM Systems

LVM Systems logo

LVM Systems develops and markets software and related internet products exclusively for the healthcare call center industry. Their primary niche is solutions that support nurse triage, disease management, patient transfer, and referral/marketing services, including consumer-centered internet products. They have proudly served this market for 30 years, with hundreds of healthcare organizations as clients. The company’s cornerstones are comprehensive software, outstanding customer support, and proven clinical content supported by Drs. Barton Schmitt and David Thompson. The LVM team also supplies implementation services, on-site training, phone, and remote-access support, network consultation, user conferences, customization of screens, and custom reports. Contact LVM at 480-633-8200.


Cyber Security in a Medical Call Center

By Bobby Bennett

With cyberattacks on the rise, what steps should a healthcare call center take to prevent falling victim? The first is to recognize it could happen to anyone. Do not equate small with safe. According to a 2017 Trend Micro online survey, 45 percent of small business owners believe they will never be a target. The cybersecurity firm 4iQ states in its 2019 Identity Breach Report that cybercriminals targeted small businesses with cyber-attacks at an inordinate rate in 2018—up 425 percent over the previous year. 

Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks

  • Install, use, and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business.
  • Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
  • Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available.
  • Make backup copies of important business data and information.
  • Control physical access to your computers and network components.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi network and make sure it is hidden.
  • Require individual user accounts for each employee.
  • Limit employee access to data and information. Also limit authority to install the software.
  • Regularly change passwords.
  • Consider two-factor authentication such as password and PIN.

The Federal Communications Commission provides a Small Biz Cyber Security Planner on their website.

Bobby Bennett is the western regional sales manager for Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascam, leading providers of best-in-class contact center solutions for healthcare and medical telephone answering service call centers. Startel’s Alston Tascam Division has created a stand-alone, vendor-agnostic secure messaging gateway which has integrations with some of the most popular secure messaging providers. Contact Bobby at bobby.bennett@startel.com or 800-782-7835.


Healthcare Call Center News

Implement Virtual Healthcare Call Centers to Address COVID-19: TriageLogic announced a quick-to-deploy and easy-to-use telehealth system with a virtual call center that hospitals, medical organizations, and health centers can use for patient care during the COVID-19 crisis.

As health organizations adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, they look for a system they can deploy quickly for staff and nurses to work remotely to set up doctor visits, answer patient questions, evaluate their symptoms, and determine who needs further evaluation by a doctor. Team members can communicate with their physicians and set up two-way video visits using secure, HIPAA-compliant texting options that do not require the use of a mobile app. This allows the remote hospital associates to set up and coordinate telehealth visits for doctors instead of in-person visits.

Visit www.triagelogic.com or email info@triagelogic.com for more information.

1Call Offers Free Licensing to Customers: 1Call, a division of Amtelco, announced the offering of free licensing to their customers during COVID-19. 1Call is offering free operator, supervisor, and call recording licenses to all customers to help with the increased call volumes because of the COVID-19 virus. They are also advising their customers on how to use their existing 1Call solutions during this crisis. 

This includes implementing a work from the home model using a concurrent licensing structure and free additional licensing offer, creating new custom codes specific to COVID-19, and using 1Call software’s inherent skills-based call routing tool to ensure specific calls go to the right operators.

For more information visit 1Call.com and contact them at 800-225-6035 or info@1call.com.

Protocols Updated to Cover Coronavirus: To address coronavirus concerns, Doctors Schmitt and Thompson have updated their clinical content protocols. The coronavirus protocols include appropriate questions to screen patients who may be at risk as well as dispositions based on symptoms and exposure. The protocols also have pertinent information from a public health reporting perspective to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

As the virus outbreak continues to evolve, TriageLogic will provide its clients with the latest information to allow for the best possible patient care.

Contact TriageLogic if you have questions about their protocols or if you would like their triage nurses to be available to answer your patient phone calls.

Email us updates about your healthcare call center for the next issue of Medical Call Center News.


A Thought for Today

“The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” -Vincent van Gogh

The March 2020 Issue



Use a Quality Assurance Program to Improve Your Call Center

Tap a QA Program to Make Quality the Focus for Your Healthcare Call Center

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

In the last issue, we talked about improving your call center by providing ongoing skills training. Now we’ll continue the discussion by addressing a quality assurance (QA) program.

In the call center industry, everyone’s talking about providing quality transactions. Quality call center work helps bring about quality healthcare outcomes, which starts with quality agent communication.

One essential step to keep the focus on quality is to have a quality assurance process. Most leading call centers have a QA program in place. Others plan to add one. And some had one but, in a rush to deal with the urgent, they put the practice on hold, which they later pushed aside.

Last are those call centers that don’t have a QA program, never did, and aren’t planning to. It’s time for this to change. Every call center that cares about its callers needs to put quality at the forefront of all they do, and a QA program is the surest way to accomplish that.

A QA program is a methodical system that regularly evaluates calls from each agent. These calls can be live or recorded. Regardless of the format, a trained quality professional evaluates each call according to established criteria. They then share the results with each agent, providing encouragement whenever possible and offering constructive criticism when appropriate. The goal of a QA program stands to reinforce the positive and offer corrections to improve the not so great.

Successful QA programs have an established process they follow without fail. And most programs have dedicated a trained quality professional to administer the program. Conducting QA evaluations and providing immediate feedback are generally this person’s sole responsibility.

To start a QA program or restart one on hold, think small. This might be performing one call evaluation per agent per month. As the process becomes fine-tuned and the practice becomes routine, increase the frequency to twice a month and then weekly. Some established robust QA programs evaluate their agents much more frequently.

In addition to dedicating a person to do QA evaluations, another key is to secure agent buy-in from the onset. This starts before launching the program and continues as a QA professional provides feedback to each agent. The goal of each feedback session is to celebrate what the agent did well. Make it a positive experience that they can anticipate. Then add one area to work on. Eventually, some calls won’t warrant any suggestions for improvement at all. And that’s the goal of a QA program.

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

 


Featured Sponsor: Call 4 Health

Call4Health

Call 4 Health is a leading medical call center with a genuine understanding of the patient’s perspective. Delivering compassionate commitment with quality medical solutions to their clients since 1997, Call 4 Health has a keen understanding of what it is like to face trauma and has developed a sound system to seamlessly balance professionalism with compassion.

Their call representatives understand the difficulties in facing traumas and coping with treatments as well as the emotional and financial strains those challenges present. With an altruistic approach they place patients and their families first. Compassion is more than just a word at Call 4 Health, it drives them. Customer service excellence is not something they just talk about. They deliver it every day.

To learn more: www.call4health.com or 855-244-3258.


9 Steps to Lead Your Team Through Uncertainty

By Kate Zabriskie

An effective leader will lead their team through change and do so with confidence that will inspire others. Here are nine tips to help lead your team through uncertain times:

1. Know That the Path Isn’t Always Linear: As a team deals with workplace change, it isn’t as simple as announcing it, adapting to it, and moving toward goals. It’s normal for employees to have shifting feelings throughout the process. Recognize and address these concerns as they arise is a healthy way to respond.

2. Identify Key Leaders: Identify team members with true leadership qualities early on. They will be crucial in helping to instill confidence and keep the team moving together toward the stated goals.

3. Construct a Solid Plan: Address changes in processes, products, and expectations of the staff involved. Creating and sharing a plan with your team will go a long way toward giving them a feeling of stability as they move forward together.

4. State Goals: Clearly define objectives and how you will support your team in meeting them. If employees don’t have a firm sense of what they should move toward, they may just . . .  move on.

5. Adjust as Necessary: Rumors abound during uncertainty. When your team is unsure, they will speculate. This can produce confusion, worry, and employees looking for new jobs. Be upfront and communicate with your team any information you have as soon as you can.

6. Acknowledge the Past: Changes may mean discarding the old ways of doing things. This can leave team members who worked on such projects feeling slighted. Highlight those projects and salute accomplishments, while at the same time leading the team into the new direction.

7. Disclose Challenges: Don’t hide problems when they occur. Share them with your team. They may have valuable input and will feel more invested in helping overcome obstacles.

8. Listen to All Concerns: Make yourself available and truly listen to your team. Sometimes, simply venting about the changes will help someone deal with what is going on. And other times, their insight could be invaluable.

9. Restate Performance Objectives: Clearly state any changes in performance objectives and reviews. Employees will want to know exactly what’s expected. This will allow them to focus on their own objectives and give them confidence as they move forward.

Summary: Change can be scary, full of surprises, and extremely challenging. But, if you have a plan, communicate effectively with your team, and move towards new objectives with confidence—and have a team that is committed as well—you can survive and even thrive in the new environment.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.

[Read Kate’s full article to learn more.]


Healthcare Call Center News

TriageLogic Offers Remote Patient Monitoring: TriageLogic applies its thirteen years of telephone triage experience to the emerging remote patient monitoring (RPM) market. As monitoring technologies continue to gain traction, the healthcare industry views RPM as a tool to help control the cost of care for those with chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, COPD, asthma, and diabetes.

Monitoring devices collect enormous amounts of patient data. Each device has its own algorithm that flags abnormal conditions. Results from these devices appear on dashboards provided by the device company. A physician or their staff that’s monitoring multiple patients with multiple conditions spends a significant amount of time regularly reviewing every dashboard. This is time taken away from face-to-face patient care. “Most physicians don’t have the time or resources to monitor dashboards for multiple devices,” said Ravi Raheja, M.D., TriageLogic medical director and CTO. “TriageLogic’s resources allow physicians to do what they’re best at—spend quality face-to-face time with those who truly need medical intervention. We work closely with each physician group to ensure we understand their preferences and custom care plans for patients with chronic disease.”

Email us updates about your healthcare call center for the next issue of Medical Call Center News.


A Thought for Today

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” -Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

The January 2020 Issue



Improve Your Call Center by Providing Ongoing Skills Training

Unless You Remind Them, Employees Will Forget Their Training and Pick Up Bad Habits

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

This year we’ll embark on a series of articles about how to move your healthcare call center forward to better meet the needs and expectations of your callers and patients. We’ll start by talking about providing your frontline staff with ongoing skills training.

For your call center, you begin by hiring the best staff, providing them with the detailed training they need to do their jobs well, and then scheduling them to handle calls. It’s a great start, but it’s just the beginning. 

Over time their skills will drift away from what you expect and migrate toward what is expedient. Even more of a concern, they will learn from their coworkers sitting next to them. Though they may acquire some good skills this way, they’re more apt to pick up less-than-ideal habits. It’s a given that what you don’t want to occur in your call center will much more readily permeate your entire staff then the best practices you desire them to emulate.

That’s why it’s essential to provide periodic training to your staff. Through this, you can reinforce the best skills in call handling, customer service, and patient satisfaction that you want them to consistently provide. And then you can teach them new, enhanced skills too. 

Just as vision is leaky, so too are call handling skills. Both require regular reminders. Therefore, you need to teach and reinforce the skills that you want your staff to use in your call center. Do this on a regular basis. You need to provide this to every frontline employee. 

Though you may want to start with the under-performing staff first, this is backward. If you start with them, they’ll view your training as punitive, which will detract from your objective of enhancing their skills.

Instead, you might want to start with your best-performing staff. They are apt to view the advanced training as a reward, making them much more likely to retain and implement the customer service techniques you teach them. Then roll the training out to the rest of your staff. They’ll receive your instruction more positively.

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

 


Featured Sponsor: TriageLogic

TriageLogic

TriageLogic is a leading provider of quality, affordable triage solutions, including comprehensive after-hours call center services and innovative online systems for use in both institutional and private practice settings. In 2005, board certified pediatrician Ravi K. Raheja, MD and Charu Raheja, PhD founded TriageLogic. TriageLogic is a healthcare company that creates leading-edge telephone medicine technology based on practical experience and a thorough understanding of the field. Whether a busy private practice in need of a phone triage system or a hospital seeking complete after-hours call center solutions, TriageLogic has a product to meet your needs.


How Telephone Triage Nurses Act as An Extension of Physicians and Practices

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

In an era where there are multiple sources of medical advice and people frequently use Google to get answers, telephone triage nurses need to be mindful that they play a critical role in ensuring patients get the customized care directed by their physician. This is vital for consumer-focused patient care. That is why sophisticated triage systems have custom instructions and standing orders. These tailored directions are based on physician or practice preferences for triage nurses to follow once the appropriate care for the patient has been determined.

What Are Custom Orders? Custom orders are additional instructions that physicians and practices add to existing protocols. An example would be telling the patient to take ibuprofen over Tylenol or sending them to a certain ER or urgent care facility. Custom orders are designed to help the triage nurse function as an extension of the doctor, without having to always call the on-call doctor. With custom orders, patients receive continuity of care, reassurance, and the ability for physician follow up the next day.

How to Properly Represent the Physician and Group: Through the triage process of assessing the patient, choosing highest acuity protocol, disposition, and advising the patient per protocol guidelines, triage nurses need to keep in mind that they represent a specific physician or practice.

Since they never see the patient in person, it is important that triage nurses provide the empathy and care that will make patients feel better. Patients are not just a voice over the phone with a problem for nurses to solve. Every phone call has an impact, and one of the best ways nurses can care for patients is to establish and affirm the trust they have in their provider.

When giving protocol advice, triage nurses should first check for any specific practice orders that apply to the situation. Then, as they advise, they should use phrases like, “Your doctor would like you to…” or “Your doctor cares very much about their patients and would want you to…”

Summary: Telephone triage nurses are important in establishing that the patient’s doctor cares about their problem. They are a crucial link to the patient trusting the care and advice of their physician. Since triage nurses are with a patient for a moment, it is vital that they gain their trust and provide the best care. 

When the patient call ends, their continuity of care is in the hands of their physician. Telephone triage nurses help the patient beyond the call when they nurture that trust in the doctor they represent.

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. For more information visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com


Healthcare Call Center News

Email us with your news for the next issue.


A Thought for Today

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. -Alexander Pope

The November 2019 Issue



5 Reasons to Be Thankful for Your Job

Working in a Medical Call Center is Hard, but Don’t Forget the Good Parts

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Have you ever left your call center and wished you didn’t have to come back? Of course you have. Yet you return. Having this feeling means you care and proves you’re normal.

Working in a medical call center has its stresses, difficulties, and frustrations. But don’t let this cloud the good parts. And there are many. 

Let’s press pause for a moment and reflect on what you can be thankful for through your work at a medical call center. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Enjoy Financial Provision:

At a basic level, we work to earn a living. Yes, every employee wishes they made more and thinks they should. But overall you’re doing great. Your job covers your basic needs and then some. Don’t look at the 1 percent in the United States who have far surpassed you. Consider the 99 percent in the rest of the world who wished they had your standard of living.

2. Work with a Great Team:

Every day you work alongside some amazing and talented people. Yes, there may be one or two that irritate you, but this is true in every job, as it is with every family and every social gathering. Remember, you’re a team, and you get things done. Together you’re stronger, more effective, and meet your mandate call after call.

3. Help Others:

Handling call after call can have its drudgery. But remember that each caller is a real person who needs your support. They’re calling you for assistance. And you’re able to help. Call after call, you help people. Because of you, their lives are a little bit healthier. You’re doing your part to make our world a better place.

4. Save Lives:

Working in the medical call center can also have its life and death ramifications, especially if you’re doing telephone triage. Though it may not happen every day, each life you save is the ultimate reward that enables you to persevere. But beyond saving physical lives, all healthcare call center work helps save people emotionally, spiritually, or financially. Each call represents an opportunity for you to make a difference in the caller’s life.

5. Possess Purpose:

Some jobs are boring, and others carry no meaning other than a paycheck. Not so when you work in a medical call center. You have a purpose, a critical purpose. You and your coworkers help others on every phone call and save lives—whether literally or figuratively—on a regular basis.

Conclusion:

You’re bound to have bad days in your call center. That’s normal. But don’t let them obscure the good days. Remember how much you have to be thankful for. You have a job that provides for you, benefits society, and carries significance.

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

 


Featured Sponsor: Pulsar 360

Pulsar360 provides carrier services and disaster recovery for medical answering services

Pulsar360 provides SIP Trunking and disaster recovery solutions for medical answering services. Pulsar360, Inc. has served the telecommunications requirements of SMB to enterprise business customers since 2001 and the medical call center industry since 2008.

Pulsar360 services over 170 medical-centric answering services, meeting their special requirements, which includes at no additional charge: 20 percent burstable SIP trunking; SIP trunking, toll-free number, and national network redundancy; T38 faxing that meets HIPAA compliance regulations; carrier services; and an infinite number of automatic failover alternatives.

In addition, Pulsar360 offers hot-standby business continuity/disaster recovery solutions designed for medical call centers. If the call center’s premise system is down or cloud system is off-line, calls automatically failover and are delivered directly to operator desktops with calling party ID and customer name or account number. Also included are cloud-based IVR, multiple call queues, and skills-based routing when in failover mode.

With Pulsar’s SD-WAN offering they can provide QoS over the internet to their data centers. Their 24/7 internet quality of service monitoring and issue alerting, which includes scheduled VoIP quality tests with archived test results, insures they deliver the reliability to meet and exceed their customer’s expectations.


Customizing Care for Patient Populations with a Nurse Triage System

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

Patients today have more options than ever to receive care outside of their primary care—if they even have one. Having more options may seem like a good thing. However, many times the consumer is confused about the best care to address their symptoms. In the process, they end up either over-utilizing services or underestimating serious medical symptoms, creating both a drain to the healthcare system as well as a possible threat to their lives.

In a population health setting, this can lead to inappropriate use of resources which ends up frustrating the patient and expensive for the health system. Managing patient populations requires providers to use a customized approach to provide better care for patients, create a healthier population, and reduce healthcare costs. Providing access to a robust, nurse triage call solution with custom orders is a critical step in enabling this approach.

Managing multiple chronic diseases for a single patient requires complex scheduling, medicine regimens, and monitoring tasks, not to mention the counseling and patient education that is crucial to effective self-care. In addition to caring and helping their patients, providers benefit from offering high-quality telephone care for their chronically ill patients because it improves treatment effectiveness and compliance. Time and cost burdens for managing a whole population of such patients can be a significant problem for providers.

Key Features of a Nurse Triage System

  • Incorporate Gold Standard Protocols from Schmitt-Thompson
  • Record all calls
  • Use licensed registered nurses
  • Call back time less than 30 minutes
  • Customizable standing orders where the nurses follow instructions specific to practice or physician
  • HIPAA-compliant secure texting to the MD’s smartphone
  • Encounters sent via fax, email, FTP, or online access to notes
  • Optional integration module
  • Optional telehealth app

Telephone triage nurses serve as a continuation of a provider’s staff, allowing patients access to medical care and appropriate advice beyond the employed staff and their hours. Triage nurses use a combination of protocols and clinical directives. When a nurse triage service allows for custom orders, the nurse can follow tailored instructions based on physician or practice preferences once the nurse has determined the appropriate level of care. 

For example, some doctors prefer their patients use specific brands of medications when necessary. Other examples include a particular urgent care center or ER if patients need immediate treatment. This option allows the nurse to help patients without having to contact the doctor after every call. The software should also provide data analytics reports allowing doctors and practices to understand their patient groups and frequent questions better.

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. For more information visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com


Healthcare Call Center News

TeamHealth Medical Call Center Rebrands as AccessNurse: Started in 1996 to support TeamHealth physicians, TeamHealth Medical Call Center evolved over time, outgrowing its brand identity and core message, which is a natural part of every dynamic, growing business. Now, more than two decades later, they have evolved to become a premiere provider of medical call center solutions, offering services to more than fifteen thousand providers in individual and group practices, hospital systems, universities, community health centers, and other medical organizations across the United States. Today they are more dynamic than ever, and their new brand of AccessNurse reflects this reality.

1Call Expands Architecture Solutions Team: 1Call, a division of Amtelco and a leader in developing software solutions and applications designed for the specific needs of the healthcare call center marketplace, announced the promotion of Amber Schroedl to solutions architect. “Amber has been a key part of our success, and brings a unique, real-world set of skills to our department,” said Kevin Mahoney, director of solutions architecture. “We are thrilled to promote her to this important position and serve our customers better by reducing implementation and go-live times.”

Email us with your news for the next issue.


A Thought for Today

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it. -Henry David Thoreau

The September 2019 Issue



Pursuing Work-Life Balance in the Medical Call Center

Take Key Steps to Reduce Burnout and Increase Retentio

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

We hear a lot about work-life balance. This is extra challenging in the healthcare industry, as well as with call center work. The combination of these two areas in the medical call center results in a need to strive to achieve a work-life balance. Doing so will help reduce employee burnout and increase retention of both management and frontline staff.

Consider these areas.

Nurses and Frontline Staff:

Strive to provide a separation between work and nonwork activities for all non-management staff. Employees in the office, taking calls are working. Nonwork time is when they’re not in the office taking calls. Don’t intrude on their non-work time. This means not calling, texting, or emailing. Even if the interaction seems minimal, it sucks the employee back into a workplace mindset and detracts them from the nonwork activity they’re immersed in. Great bosses don’t do this.

Management and Administration:

It’s harder for people in management to not take their work home, be it mentally or physically. Yet when they do, it intrudes on their nonwork reality and threatens to unbalance their life. 

Managers, give supervisors and employees clear guidelines about when they should and shouldn’t contact you when you’re not in the office. Though you don’t want to shut yourself off from urgent communication, you also don’t want to open yourself to around-the-clock interruption. 

Two key steps to aid in this are empowering on-site supervisors and establishing on-call staff. When implemented properly, these two functions can help shield management from work-related interruptions when they’re not working.

Shift Supervision:

Most call centers have shift supervisors. Train and empower supervisors to make decisions on your behalf when you’re not in the office. That is when you’re not working and are attending to the rest of your life.

You may worry about the possibility of shift supervisors making an error in judgment. It will happen, but I don’t view this as a mistake. Instead, consider it as a learning opportunity to equip them to perform their job with greater effectiveness.

On-Call Personnel:

Some call centers have management and administration rotate on-call responsibilities. In this way, the on-call person deals with all emergency and urgent situations that arise in the call center outside of regular business hours. In doing so they shield all other management and administration from enduring work-related interruptions to their life. 

Ideally, the on-site supervisors should be so well trained and fully empowered that they’ll never need to reach the on-call person with a question or problem. This is how it should be, but for those exceptions, it’s great to have a designated contact person to assist the shift supervisor.

Conclusion:

True work-life balance may be an illusion that we’ll never reach, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Follow these steps to bring you and your staff closer to this important equilibrium. When you do, you’ll increase their job satisfaction, minimize the risk of burnout, and increase their tenure at your medical call center. And you’ll realize these same benefits for yourself.

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

 


Featured Sponsor: AccessNurse, a TeamHealth Company

AccessNurse

Formerly known as the TeamHealth Medical Call Center, AccessNurse is the premier provider of comprehensive medical call center solutions, serving more than 15,000 physicians, healthcare organizations, federally qualified health centers, universities, and health plans across the country. AccessNurse provides clients with a wide range of cost-effective healthcare services such as telephone nurse triage, answering service and virtual front desk services, post-discharge programs, and hospital call center partnerships. They are an industry leader in reducing inappropriate or unnecessary utilization of healthcare resources, enhancing risk management, and increasing patient satisfaction. For additional information, visit www.accessnurse24.com or call 844-277-6312.


Using Device Data and Nurse Triage to Improve Value-Based Care

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

New technologies are transforming how clinicians deliver healthcare. At the same time, digital solutions alone aren’t enough to help patients. Incorporating some human component increases patient compliance and education, further reducing healthcare costs. Medical call centers should adopt software and increase the role of triage nurses to complement traditional care settings.

For example, digital diabetes prevention and treatment platforms connect users with support communities and health coaches who can remotely monitor chronic conditions such as weight, blood sugar, diet, and medicine intake. Setting thresholds and alerts can notify healthcare providers about abnormal, potentially abnormal, or dangerous values. While the devices can collect and transmit data, a medical professional still needs to interpret the data and direct patients on the next steps in context with their symptoms and health status.

Telephone triage nurses play a vital role in interpreting the data and providing appropriate follow up for patients who use these technologies. They act as the first line of screening when an alert or abnormal value is reported. They have the training to talk to patients, assess symptoms, and determine the next best steps based on combining the data with the full patient assessment over the phone.

To assess patients and direct them appropriately, the nurses need triage protocols. Most medical call centers use the gold standard protocols from Schmitt-Thompson to assess symptoms. Call centers should also incorporate robust protocol builders, a technology that enables an organization to modify existing protocols to meet their needs and create new protocols when required.

By using custom developed protocols, triage nurses can assess a patient using the data received from devices with appropriate next steps for medical care. As a result, triage nurses play a significant role in this new digital era driven by value-based care. Combining data from devices and other sources with innovative triage technology, triage nurses can act as a bridge between patients and providers. This creates a viable monitoring solution that provides cost-effective care.

In conjunction with custom protocols, organizations should use platforms to put in custom workflows. As an example, once a nurse has determined an appropriate level of care, they can further direct the patient to specific care locations, referral numbers, or provide handouts via text or email. This allows the triage nurse to serve as an effective first point of contact and get the patients to the appropriate next steps on the first call.

Finally, look for companies that provide an optional mobile app to enable patients to take advantage of increased self-service, access to customized resources, and insight into their own information. Technology is changing the access, monitoring, and delivery of healthcare. Value-based solutions are now possible to optimize your patient care and decrease healthcare expenses.

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. For more information visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com


Healthcare Call Center News

TeamHealth Medical Call Center Rebrands as AccessNurse: Started in 1996 to support TeamHealth physicians, TeamHealth Medical Call Center evolved over time, outgrowing its brand identity and core message, which is a natural part of every dynamic, growing business. Now, more than two decades later, they have evolved to become a premier provider of medical call center solutions, offering services to more than 15,000 providers in individual and group practices, hospital systems, universities, community health centers, and other medical organizations across the country. Today they are more dynamic than ever, and their new brand of AccessNurse reflects this reality.

Call 4 Health Wins Quality Awards: Call 4 Health received the 2019 Award of Excellence (for 5 consecutive years) and the Call Center Award of Distinction from ATSI, The Association of Teleservices International, Inc. The Award of Excellence involves an independent firm that mystery shops messaging services and grades the service they observe. The Call Center Award of Distinction is a sister program to the Award of Excellence that focuses on longer, more involved call handling designed to measure the skills of professional call center agents throughout North America.

1Call Partners with American Messaging: 1Call, a division of Amtelco, announced their partnership with American Messaging. Combining 1Call’s operator console with American Messaging’s critical messaging service will improve critical communications in healthcare areas that are designed to keep other wireless technologies out. 

Mike Friedel, 1Call’s vice president of sales stated, “This exciting partnership with American Messaging elevates the capabilities of our operator consoles to better serve customers who utilize paging services.”

Dave Andersen, American Messaging chief operating officer noted, “Paging remains the most reliable technology for critical healthcare communications, and our partnership with Amtelco helps to optimize current workflows for our customers.”

Email us with your news for the next issue.


A Thought for Today

Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. -Robert Fulghum