Category Archives: Issues

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

The July 2009 Issue

How to Be Satisfied in a Dissatisfied World

By Dr. Lee Jampolsky

Do you dread going to work each day and having to face the same problems in your call center?  Do the changes you make in your job often result in only short-term fixes?  Changing jobs without addressing your thinking is like painting over rust.  It will look great for a while, but eventually the old rust will slowly break through the new paint.

There is a solution to job dissatisfaction, stress, and lack of success – a simple solution based on research and thirty years of practical application that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and in any call center.  The solution involves attitude changes that take five seconds to apply and anyone can do.

1.  Know that how you react to a situation is up to you.

  Those who are unhappy with their call centers – or the callers – often feel dissatisfaction with a situation happening outside of their control (such as downsizing or budget cuts).  But unhappiness and stress actually begin with thoughts, fears, and perceptions.  In other words, situations are completely neutral – it’s your thoughts about the situation that lead to dissatisfaction.  As long as you believe you are a helpless victim you will not see a positive and effective response to every situation.

2.  Know that fear, guilt, and worry holds everyone back.

  Countless people, from call center agents to managers or directors, make unsuccessful job changes each year because they were overly worried and preoccupied about either their performance or the future of their jobs.  Decide to stop wasting valuable time and mental energy being fearful, guilty, and worried.  Instead, ask yourself, “Is my current thinking taking me where I want to go, or is it perpetuating my unhappiness?”

3.  Being a faultfinder does not create motivation for change.

  With most companies and individuals, as stress increases, so does blameStress and fear feed off one another in a vicious cycle of fear that is difficult to break.  Break this cycle by recognizing that survival in your job and motivating others does not come from over-focus on what is wrong and who is to blame.  Seek to improve relationships and productivity.

4.  Making a change in the situation doesn’t always make things immediately better.

  The typical way of thinking states, “If you’re unhappy in your work, change something – change jobs, change the organizational structure, find a different career.”  Instead, tell yourself, “If you are not happy with your job, learn something.”  This way there is no such thing as a “bad situation,” only “learning situations.”

Follow these simple suggestions, and you can shift from stressed-out and dissatisfied to clear, calm, and happy in your call center job – no matter what’s going on around you.

Dr. Lee Jampolsky is a psychologist and author of Walking Through Walls, Smile For No Good Reason, and Healing the Addictive Mind.  For more information, call 831-659-1478.


You Are a Person of Influence?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

My family moved the summer before fifth grade, and I started a new school.  I quickly realized three things.  I was far ahead in math, hopelessly behind in grammar, and had been placed in the wrong class by the school secretary.  The result was that my teacher gave me special attention and esteem, while my classmates viewed me with academic awe and respect.  Although I didn’t learn much academically that year, I did undergo a metamorphous of self-perception.  Put succinctly, I began fifth grade as an above average student who felt average and ended the year as an above average student who was convinced he was exceptional.  That single attitudinal change altered the trajectory of my educational path – and ultimately my life.  Yes, Mrs. Wedel influenced me immensely.

In seventh grade, I had Mr. Snow for English.  Our class read and studied Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol.  Mr. Snow helped us dig into this timeless tale and mine its many truths.  The conclusion was inescapable for me and equally profound.  Like Dickens’ Scrooge, we have a choice on how we live our life: it can be for selfish purposes, or it can be for the joy of living and the benefit of others.  I chose the latter.

In high school, it was Mr. Grosser who affected me greatly.  With a passion for molding young minds, he was part educator and part entertainer.  There was never a dull moment in his classroom, where the unexpected became routine.  He wanted us to think, profoundly and deeply.  His influence was significant and helped me mature as an individual and prepare for adulthood.

The standout mentor of my college years was Professor Britten.  Intellectual and insightful, he quietly communicated profundity with ease, effectiveness, and aplomb.  I found myself hanging on every word.  Nothing he said was wasted, and everything had significance.  He was the teacher whose class one took, not because of the subject material, but because of the instructor.

These are just a few of the teachers who influenced me.  Aside from academia, I have had many notable “teachers” in the business world as well.  Although not teachers per se, they nonetheless educated me, playing a critical role in guiding me to become the person that I am today.

Whatever your role in your call center, be encouraged that you are influencing others, even if you don’t know it.  Whether a director of operations, a manager, a shift supervisor, or a front-line call center agent, you influence those around you by what you do, the things you say, and how you treat others.  Like the infamous Scrooge, you can either influence negatively by pursuing a life of self-focused hoarding, or you can influence positively by sharing, giving, and inspiring others in an encouraging and profound manner.

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.


Healthcare Reform Paper: The Case for Publicly Funded Medical Call Centers

Doctors Barton Schmitt and Andrew Hertz have recently completed a position paper regarding the role of medical call centers in health care reform.  “The impetus for the paper,” explained Schmitt, “was largely because I have not heard anyone in government mention telephone care as part of their solution.”  Medical call centers are used in many other countries and have been found to be cost-effective, yet in the U.S., only New Mexico has implemented a publicly funded call center for all of their state’s uninsured.

The position paper, titled The Case for Publicly Funded Medical Call Centers, offers as a premise that, “every citizen should have the right to reach a telephone care nurse at any hour day or night for assistance with illnesses, injuries or other acute medical problems.”  Its content describes the primary functions of today’s medical call centers, an overview of their outcomes, evidence of their ability to reduce healthcare costs and recommendations for making these centers a critical part of universal access to health care.


Cosmopolitan Medical Communications Recognized

Cosmopolitan Medical Communications has been named a winner of the 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, distinguishing the employer as a leading practitioner of workplace flexibility and effectiveness in Arizona, and across the nation.  Cosmopolitan was recognized at a breakfast held by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce on June 11, 2009.

The Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility are part of the When Work Works project, an ongoing initiative of Families and Work Institute, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), and the Twiga Foundation.  The Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility recognize organizations that are striving to find new ways to make workwork” in today’s challenging economy.  The awards honor organizations of all sizes and all types across the country that are using workplace flexibility as a strategy to increase workplace effectiveness and yield positive business results, and to help employees succeed at work and at home.


Amcom Releases Enhanced Smart Console

Amcom Software, Inc., released its enhanced Smart Console call center software.  Highlights in the latest version include:

  • Enhanced user interface improves both look and feel and ease of use.
  • Enhanced operator efficiency and communication tools allow faster phone number editing, on-call scheduling from the console, faster global search, and team chat capabilities.
  • Expanded platform capability and support allow integration with new telephony devices and the ability to run on Microsoft Vista.  Also, in the event of a network outage, communications can be maintained using a local copy of Smart Console.
  • Timesaving administration and improved configuration: Software updates will be tested on a single PC and then automatically distributed to all PCs, ensuring that everyone has the latest software.

“Organizations that rely on our call center software every day as well as those considering this type of solution will see tremendous benefit in the ease of use and solid functionality this latest version provides,” said Chris Heim, CEO, Amcom Software.  “Our development team was able to incorporate customer feedback into their process and truly appreciate the time our customers took to provide their candid input.”

For more information, call 800-852-8935 or visit


PSA: To Test or Not to Test?

One of the most controversial issues in men’s health is whether men should routinely have a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to screen for prostate cancer.  Some experts argue that PSA testing saves lives by helping detect this common form of cancer early.  Others say it triggers unnecessary treatment that disrupts many more lives than it saves.  The results of two studies released this spring focused the debate, but scientists are still a long way from concluding the discussion, reports the July 2009 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

Our society has been encouraged to value early cancer diagnosis, but not all cancers are alike.  Detecting prostate cancer early is not nearly as important as detecting lung cancer or colon cancer early, because many prostate cancers grow very slowly and don’t threaten health.  Spotting prostate cancer early usually leads to treatment, but current treatments can cause life-changing side effects such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction.  The crux of the controversy is whether screening for prostate cancer using the PSA test does more harm than good.  That’s the question the new studies – one done in the United States, the other in Europe – were designed to answer.

Half of the volunteers in both studies were randomly assigned to have PSA tests, while the other half simply received their usual medical care.  In the studies, men with high PSA levels underwent prostate biopsies to look for cancer.  The American study found that after seven to ten years, PSA screening increased the diagnosis of prostate cancer, but it did not improve survival.  After nine years, the European study found that men who had been screened were less likely to have died of prostate cancer, but at a substantial cost of over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

PSA testing remains a personal decision.  However, the Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes that with the latest results things have changed.  Before these studies, skeptics said there was no evidence that PSA screening saves lives.  These studies now support that view.  Until now, if a man could not decide whether he should have his PSA checked, the default recommendation was in favor of testing.  These studies suggest the opposite strategy might be better – that unless a man has a particular reason to request a test, the default should be to skip it.

Harvard Men’s Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School; subscribe at or call 877-649-9457.


Florida Hospital – Adventist Health Systems’s Call Center Awarded

The “Best Practices Award” was recently given to Florida Hospital – Adventist Health Systems by Noble Systems Corporation.  The award was announced at the SNUG 2009 Conference – a gathering of the Select Noble Users Group – held in Atlanta, Georgia.

The “Best Practices Award” recognizes Florida Hospital – Adventist Health Systems for its use of technology and best practices to build a unified call center environment for its organization.  The hospital has combined services for its customer service, collections, and patient preregistration teams into a single call center, serving over one million patients per year.

The hospital blends inbound and outbound calls, with integrated IVR and text-to-speech tools and digital recording of calls.  The hospital’s preregistration programs have reduced wait times by fifteen to thirty minutes per patient and increased patient pre-payments.  The collections team uses “virtual agents” to leave automated messages with personalized information, which helps reach more patients and increase collections.  Automated surveys show an improvement in customer satisfaction.


The May 2009 Issue

Make Your Medical Call Center a Strategic Weapon

By Jim Rembach

For many organizations, the call center is the most important component in relationship management.  Yet very few recognize and leverage this fact.  For most, sales marketing gets all of the credit and attention while the call center is largely ignored.  Sound familiar?  We have all heard the customer relationship quote, “It costs x times more to obtain a new customer than to retain an existing one.”  So why does sales and marketing get the gold mine and the call center gets the shaft?

Most organizations do not calculate lost revenues from relationship failure.  Beyond the difficulty in accurately determining the figures, the fact remains that no one in the organization wants to take ownership of losing revenue for the company.  It is easier to spend time pointing fingers.  Remember, though, a great deal of research has established that lost revenue is the revenue that would actually require the least amount of investment to retain.

So where else can customer retention efforts tap into the gold mine?  No need for a hint – it’s the call center.  All improvement efforts in the call center should ultimately lead to providing better service and result in relationship enhancement for valuable and potentially valuable customers.  The call center can be a loyalty-generation department.  Call center leaders must learn how to assimilate the vision of being “the center of retention” into the mission.  Unlike other mining activities, this is not an activity that rapes and pillages, but one that enhances a renewable resource.

Some may protest and say that patients and customers leave or reduce spending for numerous reasons that are beyond the control of the call center.  I agree.  It may be product-related or service-related.  It may be cost-related or policy-related.  But, these are all guesses, educated hypotheses, at best.  The call center is where customer intelligence can be obtained to prove or disprove such hypotheses.  The choice is simple: focus on retaining revenue and relationships, or focus on antiquated productivity measures.  One leads to the gold mine, and the other leads to frustration.

Every hospital and medical call center has the potential to protect revenue, regardless of whether or not the call center is focused on “sales” activities.  This protected revenue allows your organization to better realize its market share goals.  The call center is your most strategic weapon in converting lost revenue to retained revenue and getting existing patients and customers to become advocates for your hospital or medical facility.

For more information, contact Jim Rembach of Customer Relationship Metrics at 877-550-0223 or


Increase Employee Retention by Giving Them a Dose of Nurses’ Medicine

By LeAnn Thieman

With increased workloads, demanding staff ratios, and challenging work conditions, many employees in the health care industry are feeling burned out.  Today’s workers are not signing on and staying on just for the money.  They are opting for employers who care about them – professionally and personally.  How they are treated on the job is a primary factor in their satisfaction, their resistance to burnout, and their willingness to be long-term loyal employees.  Work-life balance is often a top priority.

Considering that it costs thousands of dollars to recruit and hire a new employee, organizations are eager to retain the ones they have in addition to attracting the emerging workforce.  Many have learned that in order to recruit and retain they cannot simply offer more money or bigger benefits.  They need to give employees a hefty dose of what I call “nurses’ medicine.”

1) Smile a lot.  Be kind.  Visit often.
2) Ask, “How can I help you?”
3) Do an assessment on a regular basis.
4) Be prompt in answering their “call lights.”
5) Explain all procedures and changes.
6) Communicate often and clearly.
7) Ease their pain.
8) Promote independence and self-sufficiency.
9) Change positions.
10) Provide them with nourishment.

Implementing this kind of medicine creates a “care plan” that does not coddle employees; instead, it strengthens and empowers them.  This transfers to their work, promoting a positive company culture and increasing productivity.  It develops creativity, inspires loyalty, and leads to a healthy bottom line.

Giving employees a dose of the same medicine nurses give their patients results in greater retention.  With a little TLC, everybody wins.

LeAnn Thieman, LPN, CSP, is an expert in health care recruitment and retention.  For more information about her books, seminars, or speaking engagements, call 877-844-3626.


The Real Question About the Economic Crisis

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

At the World Economic Forum, Jim Wallis suggested that wondering when the global economic crisis would be over is the wrong question to ask – even though it is the one foremost on our minds.

He posited that the real query should be, “How will this crisis change us?”  After all, if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.  Drawing parallels between the years preceding the Great Depression and the past few, he offered that we have indeed repeated history.  Here then is how I suggest we must change:

  • Learn to be happy with less.  Virtually everyone in the US is better off than half of the world’s population.
  • Don’t spend what you don’t have.  Satisfying today’s urges with tomorrow’s income is courting disaster.
  • Plan for the future.  That includes having an emergency fund and a retirement plan.
  • Whenever possible, avoid debt.  When that is not possible, pay off debt as quickly as possible.
  • Charge cards are intended to be a convenience when making purchases, not a means to buy when you have no money.  The first month that the balance can’t be paid in full is an indication of living beyond your means – cancel the card and don’t apply for any more.
  • Shun greed.

In essence, greed got us here in the first place.  I hear a chorus of readers concurring, “Yes, corporate greed caused this mess to happen.”  Wait a minute; let’s not blame corporations.  Although corporations are legal entities, they cannot think and act on their own accord.  Individuals control corporations, and many of them are greedy.  The stockholders who own stock in the corporations seek higher returns on their investments; they are sometimes greedy.  The people with 401ks, IRAs, money market accounts, CDs, and any interest bearing investment want to make as much as they can; they are partly to blame as well.  On and on it goes.  Virtually everyone, in one way or another, is culpable for the mess we are in – we have an insatiable desire for more.

As my first bullet point suggests, let’s instead seek to be happier with a bit less.  And we’ll all be better off.

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.


SDC Solutions Acquired by Amcom Software

Amcom Software has acquired SDC Solutions, Inc., of Manchester, New Hampshire.  The combined companies further strengthen Amcom’s position in the market for call center and emergency management software, increasing their customer base and expanding customer solutions.

SDC Solutions’ products handle critical communications for health care, hospitality, higher education, government, and corporate organizations in the United States.  Said Amcom CEO Chris Heim, “SDC Solutions has earned a strong presence in the same markets we already serve and excels at providing solutions in the small to mid-sized market.  We’re impressed with SDC Solutions’ well-regarded software and anticipate remarkable demand for these products from Amcom customers, as well as the market in general.  SDC Solutions enjoys the loyalty of some of the country’s finest organizations, and those customers can rest assured that we intend to continue serving their needs as our number one priority.”

This acquisition comes at a time when demand is increasing for mission-critical communications solutions in the health care and hospitality markets.

For more information, call 800-852-8935.

Rein In Runaway Health Care Costs

Economists agree that American health care reform will falter unless health care spending is brought under control.  The editors of the Harvard Health Letter, in consultation with the doctors on its editorial board, propose ways you can help curb health care costs:

Develop a good relationship with a primary care physician.  A primary care doctor knows you, your medical history, and your circumstances.

Don’t use the emergency department unless absolutely necessary.  Call your doctor and try to get some advice over the phone or in person.

Stick with the program. Take prescribed medications, get regular checkups, and adhere to lifestyle changes.

Check with your primary care doctor before going to a specialist. Let your primary care physician coordinate your care.

Go generic. Generic drugs cost less; check with your doctor.

Fight inertia. If you’re taking a medication, discuss with your physician how long you’ve been taking it, whether it’s working, and, if it isn’t, not taking it anymore.

Question the need for expensive tests. Don’t push to get new, expensive tests; if your doctor orders them, ask why they’re necessary.

Stay healthy. Quit smoking, eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.

DIA Launches Online Career Center

The Drug Information Association (DIA), a global, multidisciplinary association of professionals involved in the life cycle management of biopharmaceuticals, launched its new online career center, a highly targeted resource for online employment connections.

The DIA Career Center allows employers to post jobs online, search for qualified candidates based on specific job criteria, create an online resume agent to email qualified candidates daily, and receive job activity statistics.

The DIA Career Center is a free service for job seekers who have access to employers and jobs in the biopharmaceutical industry.  In addition to posting their resumes, job seekers can browse and view available jobs based on their criteria, save those jobs for later review, and create a search agent to provide email notifications of jobs that match their criteria.

Job seekers and employers also have access to the National Healthcare Career Network, a group of more sixty top health care associations and professional organizations, including the American Hospital Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.  DIA’s alliance with NHCN increases employers’ reach to over 7,000 resumes and job seekers’ access to over 1,500 job postings.

New Service Launched to Pharmaceutical Industry

Alliance Healthcare Information and Ashfield Healthcare recently launched an integrated marketing service, Physician Reach.  Using a tailored approach, Physician Reach allows pharmaceutical companies to make use of a number of channels and adapt message delivery to the needs of individual physicians, practices, and health care professionals.

Physician Reach uses contract sales professionals, concierge services for physicians and their patients, field and office-based nursing services, e-detailing, and tele-detailing.  It also provides database management and fulfilment services.

Alan Horgan, chief executive officer of Ashfield Healthcare LLC, says, “Both companies are part of the contract sales and marketing services division of United Drug PLC, so using shared skills and resources means that we can provide a competitive service to our customers and reduce complexity at the same time.”