Category Archives: Peter DeHaan’s Columns

Articles by Medical Call Center News publisher and editor Peter Lyle DeHaan

President Obama’s Real Goal for Healthcare Reform

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

January marked a historical senate vote in Massachusetts of near epic proportions.  Essentially, this became a referendum on the President Obama’s first year in office in general and the healthcare debate in particular.  The result of the contest did not bode well for our president.  I wonder if he’s listening, really listening, to what the people have said.  What I do know is that his demeanor is more subdued, and he has lost a bit of his swagger.

In politics, our elected officials, including President Obama, have one of three primary goals, which becomes the focus for what they do and say:

  1. Their job is to serve the will of the people.
  2. Their goal is be reelected. 
  3. Their intent is to advance an ideology.

They can’t do all three; ultimately, only one will be their true and overarching focus.  That means:

  1. If President Obama views his real job as serving the people, he will respond to their message and do an about-face on healthcare.  He may not drop it completely, but at the very least, he will reverse course, providing what the people want.
  2. If President Obama’s true goal is to be reelected, he will distance himself from this hot potato in order to avoid committing political suicide.
  3. If President Obama’s genuine intent is to advance an ideology, then he will doggedly stay the course.

I suspect we will likely see him continue his unrelenting push for a healthcare overhaul – even if it’s not what the majority want or if renders him a one-term president.

Parkland Health Improves Care, Cuts Costs with Unified Communications

Parkland Health & Hospital System recently implemented a unified communications solution from Amcom Software, Inc., that has enabled them to enhance patient care through creative uses of technology, which in turn has reduced costs.  The Dallas-based organization also uses integrated Amcom solutions for its contact center operations, Web-based employee directory, on-call scheduling, and emergency notification.

Round-the-clock agents field more than one million internal and external calls annually, including requests to activate critical medical and nonmedical notifications throughout the organization.  The tight process developed for Heart Cath Team activations has notably reduced the hospital’s treatment time for heart attack patients (door-to-balloon time).  The efficient use of the technology has helped Parkland achieve recent accreditation as a primary stroke center.

The system’s emergency notification capabilities have also helped Parkland send alerts to key groups outside the hospital for time-sensitive situations.  This has included notifying staff at the nearby children’s hospital of incoming critical patients.

Internally, Parkland’s 8,000 employees have come to rely on the system’s Web-based employee directory and on-call schedules, which logged 2.5 million hits since 2005.  Together, these efficiencies have generated ROI for Parkland in the form of reduced workload for the contact center.

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

Unraveling the Sleep Cycle Mystery

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I have long maintained – and increasingly so – that my body does not comply with the “normal” twenty-four-hour sleep cycle.  Among the press releases I received recently is confirmation that sleep cycle deviations can occur and that one enzyme may be the central culprit.  Although I don’t fully comprehend the details, I nonetheless find it interesting:

Central Gears of the Mammalian Circadian Clock Exposed

“The circadian clock, a twenty-four-hour metabolic rhythm governing sleep cycles and other physiological processes, has long been known to play a central role in regulating the daily activities of living organisms.  Its detailed biochemical mechanisms, however, have largely remained a mystery.

“That mystery is one step closer to being unraveled with the latest discovery by a research team led by Hiroki R. Ueda of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology and Joseph S. Takahashi of Northwestern University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Researchers analyzed 1260 pharmacologically active compounds in mouse and human clock cell lines and identified ten that exerted the greatest impact on the clock cycle.  Surprisingly, all but one were found to target a single enzyme (casein kinase I ε/δ), the inhibition of which, researchers showed, dramatically extends this cycle from twenty-four hours to more than forty-eight hours.

“That the circadian clock may be regulated by relatively simple processes involving only a handful of molecules, a possibility indicated by this result, overturns conventional thinking on the topic.  The more important finding that the inhibition process identified is insensitive to changes of as much as ten degrees Celcius further hints at a breakthrough in the related puzzle of temperature compensation: how circadian clocks maintain constant periodicity over a broad range of temperatures.

“Taken together, these findings suggest the need to fundamentally revise existing models of the mammalian circadian clock.  They also point the way toward novel approaches to treatment of sleeping disorders and other debilitating clock-related conditions.”

When human trials begin, sign me up!

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

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

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