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

The November 2020 Issue



Let Your Call Center Staff Know How Much You Appreciate Their Work

Now More Than Ever, Take Time to Say “Thank You”

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

I’ve seldom been in a call center that wasn’t busy. Even the ones that weren’t quite as busy as others still had calls come in at a steady pace. And this was during normal times. What about the not normal times when things really get extra busy? Really busy? When call traffic spikes, agents committed to the work before them elevate their game to the next level. They shift into overdrive and handle more calls than they would do on a regularly busy day. 

But what happens when this spike of traffic isn’t so much of a spike but more of a sustained onslaught of incoming calls, such as what might occur in a medical call center during a pandemic? This isn’t a short-term situation, which will be better in a couple hours . . . or tomorrow . . . or next week. This is a new normal that pushes us and our staff to the breaking point and sometimes beyond.

Although there’s not much we can do to hold back the flood of calls coming in, we can let our staff know how much we appreciate their work. We can celebrate customer service distinction. We can recognize team members who serve patients with finesse. Take time to acknowledge their work and their dedication.

These simple gestures show telephone agents that their work is noticed and appreciated, providing benefits that don’t come from compensation alone. Unfortunately, when we’re in the middle of a crisis, we easily forget to take the time to honor our staff for the exceptional work they do. 

This need not take a lot of time nor require much preparation. Just catch your staff doing something right and praise them—publicly, if possible. This will motivate them and encourage others. When you do this be genuine. Make eye contact, state your appreciation, and thank them for their work. Then move on. Don’t belabor it. 

How long will this take? It might only require five seconds of your time. But the impact will last much longer.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat.  Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

Featured Sponsor:  Call 4 Health

Call4Health

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HIPAA in a Medical Contact Center

By Bobby Bennet

A factor to be mindful of as a call center that takes calls for healthcare providers and clinics is that you are a business associate of a covered entity. A HIPAA business associate is a contractor or vendor to a HIPAA-covered entity that creates, maintains, or transmits protected health information (PHI) in performing a function or service to the covered entity.

If a covered entity engages a business associate to help it carry out its health care activities and functions, the covered entity must have a written business associate contract or other arrangement with the business associate that establishes specifically what the business associate has been engaged to do and requires the business associate to comply with the HIPAA requirements to protect the privacy and security of protected health information. In addition to these contractual obligations, business associates are liable for compliance with certain provisions of the Rules (hhs.gov).

A business associate contract serves to clarify and limit, as appropriate, the permissible uses and disclosures of protected health information by the business associate. They may use or disclose PHI only as permitted or required by its business associate contract or as required by law. 

A business associate is also liable and subject to civil and criminal penalties for making uses and disclosures of PHI not authorized by its contract or required by law. It is important that employees are trained and understand the HIPAA rules required of a business associate. You can find sample business associate agreement provisions and training resources on the HHS.gov website.

Text messaging or SMS has become the preferred method of message delivery for both the contact center and healthcare providers. With this growing trend comes risk associated with the transmission of PHI. 

Standard forms of SMS could mean that text messages may remain on a device for an extended time. If the device is recycled, lost, or left accessible to unauthorized persons, HIPAA violations may occur. You must provide safeguards to reduce your exposure to these risks. 

Secure messaging is a HIPAA-compliant way to safely exchange sensitive information via text. Most contact center system vendors have developed secure messaging applications for use with their systems. If you are not using a HIPAA-compliant application for text messaging, contact your vendor to see what they have available.

Bobby Bennett is the western regional sales manager for Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom, leading providers of best-in-class contact center solutions for healthcare and medical telephone answering service call centers.


Healthcare Call Center News

TriageLogic Provides Remote Patient Monitoring Services: TriageLogic has been working with device companies to provide monitoring of dashboards and evaluation of patients with abnormal readings. They can provide coverage 24/7 or just after hours to supplement healthcare providers’ current remote patient monitoring programs.

TriageLogic staff observes these patient dashboards. When an alert comes in, the staff can contact the provider or send the message to TriageLogic nurses for further evaluation. The nurses will follow the practice’s instructions to triage the patients and get them the appropriate follow up. Remote patient monitoring improves health outcomes and increases revenue for practices.

While TriageLogic has grown and participated in plans to confront this major health event, they’ve taken a close look at their vision and where they see themselves in the future. Their use of protocols ensures that everyone, no matter their situation, gets the best care advice to address their medical symptoms. They hope to continue providing top-notch care through COVID and beyond.

Keona Health Remote Work Capabilities Thrive for Healthcare Contact Center: Keona Health Inc., a healthcare CRM and patient access platform shared that Assistance Services Group, a Sykes Company, experienced enormous spikes in call volume for its 235 call center agents, covering 18 million patients in Canada.

“Covid-19 created a surge well over 600 percent of our normal volumes,” said Diane Legault, senior director of telehealth operations & client relations, Sykes Canada. “The combination of productivity, clinical safety, and the ability to work remotely were crucial elements needed to defeat the first COVID wave.” Their use of Keona Health’s Health Desk solution helped them “deliver a responsive and reliable platform that would weather any type of surge, such as COVID-19.”

Keona’s Health Desk provides one seamless interface for handling any patient question including triaging patients with rules-based algorithms and AI-driven workflow. “Health Desk is a mission-critical resource and one that has to deliver robust reliability. We committed hundreds of hours to ensure that every one of our clients successfully navigated the first wave of COVID-19,” said Oakkar Oakkar, Keona Health CEO.

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


A Thought for Today

“Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds—all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.” -Edward Everett Hale