Is It Time to Start a Medical Answering Service?

Begin Your Investigation with a Little Research

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

When I worked as a call center consultant (before moving full-time into publishing and writing) I advised hospital communication centers, healthcare call centers, and medical answering services. One hospital asked me to investigate the feasibility of them starting a medical answering service. Their doctors begged them to do so, and there was only one local provider that no one seemed to like.

I talked with some of the advocates of a hospital-based answering service and did a bit of investigation into the local provider. The initiative looked promising, and I ran the numbers. The hospital decided to move forward. But before they scheduled me to help them start their answering service, my contact abruptly retired and a change in management decided to pause the project. Next quarter they assured me, which became next year. They never did have me return.

I don’t know if they started their answering service or not, but I do know that what I would’ve charged them thousands of dollars for is now condensed in my new book How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, which came out in January.

If your hospital or healthcare organization is considering starting a medical answering service, you can hire an industry consultant to guide you or you can save a lot of money and buy my book.

And even if hiring a consultant is the way you want to go, start with my book as a primer. It’s available in paperback and Kindle and carries a 4.8-star rating.

Learn more at www.startanansweringservice.com.

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.

The March 2019 Issue



Is It Time to Start a Medical Answering Service?

Begin Your Investigation with a Little Research

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

When I worked as a call center consultant (before moving full-time into publishing and writing) I advised hospital communication centers, healthcare call centers, and medical answering services. One hospital asked me to investigate the feasibility of them starting a medical answering service. Their doctors begged them to do so, and there was only one local provider that no one seemed to like.

I talked with some of the advocates of a hospital-based answering service and did a bit of investigation into the local provider. The initiative looked promising, and I ran the numbers. The hospital decided to move forward. But before they scheduled me to help them start their answering service, my contact abruptly retired and a change in management decided to pause the project. Next quarter they assured me, which became next year. They never did have me return.

I don’t know if they started their answering service or not, but I do know that what I would’ve charged them thousands of dollars for is now condensed in my new book How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, which came out in January.

If your hospital or healthcare organization is considering starting a medical answering service, you can hire an industry consultant to guide you or you can save a lot of money and buy my book.

And even if hiring a consultant is the way you want to go, start with my book as a primer. It’s available in paperback and Kindle and carries a 4.8-star rating.

Learn more at www.startanansweringservice.com.

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.

Featured Sponsor: Answering Service One

Answering Service One: medical answering service and healthcare call center services

Answering Service One offers a new approach to medical answering service and healthcare call center services. Answering Service One doesn’t sell services or tout features. They offer solutions that provide tangible benefits and sought-after outcomes to the healthcare industry.

Let Answering Service One become your number one resource for communicating with patients and callers. With Answering Service One, you can reduce expenses, provide excellence to patients, enhance communications, and realize increased focus.

The motto of Answering Service One says it all: “Number one in quality, number one in customer service, and number one in value.”

To learn more about Answering Service One’s 24-hour medical answering service and healthcare call center service for your practice, clinic, facility, or hospital, contact them at 800-901-7776 or sales@answeringserviceone.com.

The Goal of the Telephone Triage Process

By Rose Moon, RN, BSN

Telephone triage processes are proven to improve access to care professionals, lower patient anxiety, save on ER costs, and prevent unnecessary health complications. The primary goal of the telephone triage process is to deliver safe, quality-oriented telephone triage partnered with outstanding customer service. The health, safety, and wellbeing of the patient is at the forefront of every telephone encounter.

The purpose of the telephone triage process is to assess the patient’s current signs and symptoms, concurrently evaluating their past medical history and current medications. It performs the patient assessment in accordance with protocols that guide the nurse to determine the proper triage disposition to direct care to the safest, most cost-effective solution available at that time.

To accomplish the goals of the telephone triage process, an organization needs to recruit, hire, train, and retain experienced telephone triage nurses. Two valued components that will result in quality patient outcomes are providing comprehensive, detailed orientation, as well as equipping the nursing staff with needed tools: gold-standard telephone triage protocols.

However, the final determining factor of quality phone triage lies in the training of nurses to utilize the protocol tool properly. Anyone can read a protocol. It is the knowledgeable triage nurse who applies enhanced assessment skills, superior judgment, prior nursing experience, and exceptional decision-making abilities to the protocol tool that results in safe, quality outcomes and cost-effective patient care.

Performing hands-on patient assessment allows the healthcare provider to visualize cyanosis, smell foul drainage, palpate an abdomen, and use a stethoscope to assess patients’ lung sounds. Telephone triage nurses don’t have such luxuries to assess patient needs. They’re limited to their ability to query and listen intently to the caller to obtain the necessary details of the patient’s medical symptoms and then direct medical care accordingly.            

Triage nurses don’t always have to be right; they just can’t afford to be wrong. Always err on the side of caution.

Learn more about telephone nurse triage and how to implement successful triage nurse centers by downloading the free e-book: Telephone Nurse Triage Handbook.

Healthcare Call Center News

1Call Introduces Intelligent Series Version 5.3: The 1Call Division of Amtelco announced the release of version 5.3 of their Intelligent Series (IS) software. It contains several updates and additions including:

  • the transfer of voicemail from Infinity to IS for use with the Genesis system,
  • ACD answer call setting to reassign parked calls to another ACD skill,
  • auto-answer announcement greetings,
  • the addition of conference join call recording to conference join and patch call states so that both conferences and patches can be recorded, and
  • an IS supervisor dashboard allowing users to configure multiple dashboard layouts that can be filled with a choice of widgets.

Amtelco’s vice president of research and development, Kevin Beale stated, “We are thrilled to be able to release this impressive software update. Countless hours have been spent researching, developing, and refining each feature, ensuring they will meet the needs of our customers and helping them improve communications with their patients and physicians.”

For more information: 800-225-6035, info@1call.com, or www.1call.com.

New Book Explains How to Start an Answering Service: Longtime industry veteran Peter Lyle DeHaan released his insider’s guide to starting an answering service on January 29, 2019. Titled How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, the book concisely shares the essential information needed to start an answering service. Based on decades of industry experience and years of consulting, Peter DeHaan, PhD, released this book as a service to the industry.

“Starting an answering service is hard work, and I don’t sugarcoat it, but for those who want to move forward, I provide practical advice to help them succeed,” said DeHaan. “It’s a must read for anyone thinking about getting into the answering service industry.”

Learn more at StartAnAnsweringService.com.

1Call’s Genesis Intelligent Series Receives Unify Certification: The 1Call Division of Amtelco received interoperability certification for the Genesis Intelligent Series call center console solution with the version 8.x Unify OpenScape 4000 PBX (private branch exchange) by the Unify Technology Partner Program, based in Munich, Germany, on December 3, 2018. Amtelco is a Unify Technology Partner, with Advanced Level status.

Testing the interoperability between 1Call’s Genesis Intelligent Series solution and Unify’s open SIP interface for the OpenScape 4000 PBX was conducted remotely in October by 1Call’s PBX Integration Lab staff in McFarland, Wisconsin, and the Unify Communications Development Lab in Beersel, Belgium.

1Call received interoperability certification from Unify in 2016 for the Infinity Intelligent Series call center console solution with the version 7.x Unify OpenScape 4000 PBX. According to Amtelco president Tom Curtin, “Amtelco is extremely excited to have this certification to bring to our wonderful partner-customers that are looking forward to getting the best of Unify and Genesis in one tight integration.”

For more information: 800-225-6035, info@1call.com, or www.1call.com.

A Thought for Today

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do. -Voltaire

What Message Does your Call Center Send?

Is Saying “Your Call Is Important to Us” Rhetoric or Reality?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Whenever I call a company, I pay close attention to what happens. You probably do too. I look for specific details that thrill me. I also look for areas that need improvement. And I especially note my overall reaction to the call. Did they delight me, treat me with respect, and leave me with a satisfied feeling? Or did I feel frustrated over their indifferent attitude, poor response, and haste to move on to the next call?

If I’m delighted, I look forward to my next call. If I’m frustrated, I don’t want to call again and will do anything to avoid it. Today’s results foretell future interaction.

call center

Every call center says, “your call is important to us,” but sometimes they don’t act like it. As agents breathlessly rush from one call to the next, they send the opposite message, that my call is an eruption to them and causes irritation.

In the healthcare industry, call centers rise in importance as a key means to serve patients and enhance their overall level of care. While the call center can’t replace in-person interaction with a trained healthcare professional, a good call center can certainly supplement it and serve as an invaluable resource to advance the overall level of care.

This, of course, depends on the call center agent delighting the caller, of giving focused, unhurried attention. They must fully and professionally address the reason for the call. However, a medical call center that leaves patients feeling frustrated, hampers the overall provision of quality care and lessens the chance of the patient calling back the next time they have a need.

In your medical call center make sure the phrase, “Your call is important to us,” is more than a slogan or a hollow promise. Make sure you show each caller just how important they are by how you treat them and how you serve them. That’s the message your call center wants to send on every call. That’s the way to make your operation be an indispensable part of the overall provision of healthcare in your community.

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.

The January 2019 Issue



What Message Does your Call Center Send?

Is Saying “Your Call Is Important to Us” Rhetoric or Reality?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Whenever I call a company, I pay close attention to what happens. You probably do too. I look for specific details that thrill me. I also look for areas that need improvement. And I especially note my overall reaction to the call. Did they delight me, treat me with respect, and leave me with a satisfied feeling? Or did I feel frustrated over their indifferent attitude, poor response, and haste to move on to the next call?

If I’m delighted, I look forward to my next call. If I’m frustrated, I don’t want to call again and will do anything to avoid it. Today’s results foretell future interaction.

Every call center says, “your call is important to us,” but sometimes they don’t act like it. As agents breathlessly rush from one call to the next, they send the opposite message, that my call is an eruption to them and causes irritation.

In the healthcare industry, call centers rise in importance as a key means to serve patients and enhance their overall level of care. While the call center can’t replace in-person interaction with a trained healthcare professional, a good call center can certainly supplement it and serve as an invaluable resource to advance the overall level of care.

This, of course, depends on the call center agent delighting the caller, of giving focused, unhurried attention. They must fully and professionally address the reason for the call. However, a medical call center that leaves patients feeling frustrated, hampers the overall provision of quality care and lessens the chance of the patient calling back the next time they have a need.

In your medical call center make sure the phrase, “Your call is important to us,” is more than a slogan or a hollow promise. Make sure you show each caller just how important they are by how you treat them and how you serve them. That’s the message your call center wants to send on every call. That’s the way to make your operation be an indispensable part of the overall provision of healthcare in your community.

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, saw a need for accurate, reliable, cost-effective triage services in both hospital and private practice settings. After extensive research and investment in the development of proprietary triage software technology, they founded TriageLogic

TriageLogic 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 those needs.


Eliminate Patient Irritation over the Phone Automation

By Aaron Boatin

To cut costs, too many medical practices have made the error of scaling back what they allow their answering services to do for them. In place of a real, live human being, the cost-conscious doctor makes a mistake of forcing automation on their patients when they call.

Though automation may save a few dollars a day on an already-affordable medical answering service bill, the impact of automation on patients’ regard for their providers is devastating. Automation replaces human interaction with impersonal technology. When a patient calls hoping for a listening, empathetic ear, the last thing they want to encounter is an answering machine, voicemail jail, or endless prompts to press various digits, which invariably fails to get them to their desired destination.

And that’s for providers who try to mix automation with a live medical answering service. What about practices that force their patients into a 100 percent automated solution?

What’s a patient’s common reaction? They hang up in disgust. Yes, they may pick up the phone again, but they’re more likely to call another provider then to call their doctor’s office back. When this happens, the small savings of automation comes at the expense of losing the lifetime value of a patient.

Yes, medical answering services should offer automated solutions to their clients who need them, but these answering services should also steer their clients toward live services whenever possible. This is the best way to serve answering service clients and their patients.

Aaron Boatin is president of Ambs Call Center, a virtual receptionist and telephone answering service provider that specializes in serving the healthcare industry.  This article is adapted from the post “10 Ways Your Patients Benefit from a Doctors Answering Service.”


Healthcare Call Center News

Call 4 Health Announces 5th Annual User Conference: Call 4 Health announced details for its 5th Annual User Conference, January 16-17, 2019 at the Delray Beach Marriott. The intensive, two-day event will focus on customer service satisfaction, in which participants will acquire the essential tools, resources, and solutions necessary to manage and elevate their business’s healthcare footprint. Conference features include informative industry lectures, networking opportunities, and interactive discussion pods to bring businesses to the next level and beyond.

“The Annual User Conference is our way of equipping industry clients and partners with the influential tools they need to thrive in the healthcare industry,” said Joseph Pores, CEO of Call 4 Health. “This year’s schedule of training sessions, networking opportunities, and entertainment is sure to make the 2019 conference unparalleled.”

Call 4 HealthSponsors include 1 Call, Compass IT Compliance, Commonwealth Purchasing Group, Crown Castle, and BlueStream. For more information visit call4health.com.

1Call to Exhibit at HIMSS19 Conference: 1Call, the division of Amtelco that specializes in offering enterprise-wide communication solutions for healthcare organizations, will again exhibit at the 2019 HIMSS conference, taking place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida on February 11–15, 2019, booths 4549 and 1971. This year’s theme is “It’s All About the Why” to highlight 1Call’s commitment to deliver fast, secure, and accurate communications to help provide the best patient experience.

Demonstrations of their HIPAA-compliant miSecureMessages secure messaging app will occur at both booths to show how easy it is to send secure text, photo, audio, and video content. For more information on 1Call at HIMSS19, contact 1Call at 800-225-6035 or info@1call.com.


A Thought for Today

It is by character and not by intellect the world is won. -Evelyn Beatrice Hall

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Will You Help Us Get the Word Out About Medical Call Center News?

Please Tell Your Team, Coworkers, and Colleagues About Medical Call Center News

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Medical Call Center News has a loyal group of subscribers. You appreciate our content and read most every issue. But our subscriber list also changes a bit from one issue to the next, with a 2.3 percent churn rate. Some people retire or move to other jobs, while new people join the industry or discover our publication. This is a constant reminder that the healthcare industry is undergoing constant change, perhaps more than any other industry.

Given these changes, our overall subscriber numbers stay fairly constant, but we’d like more people to receive Medical Call Center News. Will you do me a favor and help us get the word out?

Please take a few moments and think of team members, coworkers, and industry colleagues who might not be receiving Medical Call Center News. Will you please send them a quick email and ask them to check us out and subscribe?

As you may recall, subscribing to Medical Call Center News is a quick and easy process. We request four pieces of basic information and only require two: your email address and first name. To do things properly, it’s a double opt-in process, so once you submit your subscription information, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Just click on “confirm” and your good to go. It’s that easy.

And don’t worry. We won’t share your name or email with anyone or spam you. You may unsubscribe at any time, but if we do our job right, I don’t think you will.

That’s my request. Now it’s your turn. Please let your call center team, coworkers, and colleagues know about Medical Call Center News.

Thank you!

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.

The November 2018 Issue



Will You Help Us Get the Word Out About Medical Call Center News?

Please Tell Your Team, Coworkers, and Colleagues About Medical Call Center News

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Medical Call Center News has a loyal group of subscribers. You appreciate our content and read most every issue. But our subscriber list also changes a bit from one issue to the next, with a 2.3 percent churn rate. Some people retire or move to other jobs, while new people join the industry or discover our publication. This is a constant reminder that the healthcare industry is undergoing constant change, perhaps more than any other industry.

Given these changes, our overall subscriber numbers stay fairly constant, but we’d like more people to receive Medical Call Center News. Will you do me a favor and help us get the word out?

Please take a few moments and think of team members, coworkers, and industry colleagues who might not be receiving Medical Call Center News. Will you please send them a quick email and ask them to check us out and subscribe?

As you may recall, subscribing to Medical Call Center News is a quick and easy process. We request four pieces of basic information and only require two: your email address and first name. To do things properly, it’s a double opt-in process, so once you submit your subscription information, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Just click on “confirm” and your good to go. It’s that easy.

And don’t worry. We won’t share your name or email with anyone or spam you. You may unsubscribe at any time, but if we do our job right, I don’t think you will.

That’s my request. Now it’s your turn. Please let your call center team, coworkers, and colleagues know about Medical Call Center News.

Thank you!

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


Featured Sponsor: Pulsar360

Pulsar360 provides carrier services and disaster recovery 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 160 medical-centric answering services, meeting their special requirements, which includes, at no additional charge: 20 percent burstable trunking; SIP trunking, toll free number and national network redundancy; and an infinite number of automatic fail over 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 desktop 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.

Pulsar360 and our other sponsors make Medical Call Center News possible. Please join us in thanking them for their support.


How Healthcare Call Centers Can Increase Patient Satisfaction

By Aaron Boatin

Doctors answering services have been around for a long time. But that doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. In fact, they may be more important now than ever before. Over time the medical answering service has continued to evolve to meet healthcare providers’ needs and their patients’ expectations. With an emphasis on the personal touch, a medical answering service applies the latest technology to their service offerings so they can provide best-in-class service to their healthcare clients.

As a result, a medical answering service is a critical tool for healthcare providers in the provision of medical services. This is due to the positive, always-available professionalism that a medical answering service has on a practice’s patients and callers.

In healthcare, providers face three challenges: offer a higher level of service, provide it faster, and do it for less. In this never-ending balancing act of quality, speed, and reimbursement rates, it’s easy to lose sight of the why.

Patients exist in the center of healthcare. Without patients, there would be no reason to practice medicine. Keep this in mind with everything you do and every decision you make. Patient satisfaction is the key to success.

However, that success doesn’t just happen during office hours. It extends around-the-clock, seven days a week. But how can you satisfy patients when you’re not in the office seeing them?

This is where a medical answering service comes in. They’re available 24/7 to interact with your patients and callers anytime of the day or night, whenever they happen to call. This might be during dinner, at 3 a.m. or during your commute to the office. It could also be on weekends and holidays.

Though there’s little you can personally do to enhance patient satisfaction outside of regular business hours, you make a smart move when you enlist the aid of a medical answering service. They can help keep patients as a priority and delight them every time they call by having a real person available to talk to them.

Aaron Boatin is president of Ambs Call Center, a virtual receptionist and telephone answering service provider that specializes in serving the healthcare industry.  This article is an excerpt from the post “10 Ways Your Patients Benefit from a Doctors Answering Service.”


Healthcare Call Center News

Technology Solutions for the Home Healthcare Industry: In addition to being a strategic partner with over 160 medical-centric call centers, Pulsar360, Inc. has partnered with MEDsys, provider of web-based home care and private duty care management solutions.

A key component is their electronic visit verification solution, “which is where we come in,” states Michael Dozier, president and CEO of Pulsar360. “Our customized interactive voice response application and highly reliable network integrated with their software provides mobile visit verification, integrated scheduling, payroll, and billing into one platform that is available every hour of every day.”

This customizable solution provides real-time data exchange to manage the check-in and check-out visit confirmation through IVR and GPS technology and the scheduling component. This also provides a security element for the agency and their staff.

Upon arrival at the patient’s home, the caregiver calls a toll-free number to clock-in and enters their MEDsys secure ID number, which automatically clocks them in. When their shift is over they call their toll-free number and enter their MEDsys secure pin. That clocks them out. The caregiver can also add the plan of care into the phone, which Pulsar360 updates in real time.

1Call’s 2018 Leadership and Training Seminar Report: The 1Call Division of Amtelco completed their most successful 1Call Leadership and Training Seminar to date. On September 18–20, 2018, healthcare customers, prospects, and Amtelco staff, gathered at the Park Hotel in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, to help clinics and hospital organizations enhance their enterprise-wide communications.

Customer attendees, representing hospitals from all over the United States, enjoyed presentations given by healthcare call centers who use 1Call’s products, such as Genesis, MergeComm, and miSecureMessages. These customer-led presentations proved beneficial to the healthcare communication and IT professionals in attendance.

Attendees learned how to improve efficiencies, eliminate errors, and enhance the patient experience from peer presentations. They also could speak directly to 1Call’s software development and implementation specialists to discuss how to solve some of their interoperability and communication challenges.


A Thought for Today

Every student needs someone who says, simply, “You mean something. You count.” -Tony Kushner

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