Implementing Change in Your Call Center
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
With the new year often comes change. The first step to establish a change-oriented culture in your healthcare call center is to minimize employee fears towards change. Employees can accept change if: 1) the change is incremental or small, 2) they have a degree of input or control over the change, and 3) the change is clearly understood by all.
The key to this is communication. Address change head-on. For every change, employees wonder how it will affect them. Is their position in jeopardy? Might you cut their hours or change their shift? Maybe they’ll need to work harder. Perhaps you’ll ask them to do something they find unpleasant. What happens if they can’t learn new skills?
These are all worries about the unknown. As with most worries, the majority of them will never happen, but with a lack of reliable information and management assurances, these irrational worries dominate everyone’s thoughts.
Communication must also be ongoing; not to key staff, but to all staff; not by one method, but many: group meetings, internal blogs, memos, and one-on-one discussions. An open door policy helps, too. Also critical is a positive, unwavering attitude from leadership. Celebrate milestones, thank staff at each step, and provide rewards at the end.
Taking these steps sends a strong signal to the staff. Even though the change may still concern them, they’ll take comfort knowing they have accurate information about what will likely happen. And for each successful change, the next one becomes easier to bring about.
You’ll know you’ve created a change-friendly organization when your employees grow bored with the status quo and anticipate the next change. At this point, the potential of your call center balloons, your staff grows as individuals, and the future beckons. No one knows what that future will entail, only that things will change for the better. So, sit back, and enjoy the ride as an agent of change.
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.
HIPAA Contact Center Essentials
By Donna Fluss
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and its impacts are felt by Americans almost daily. From the HIPAA privacy notifications we receive from hospitals, doctors, dentists and others, to the lines we stand behind at the pharmacy counter to allow privacy for the person ahead of us, we frequently encounter HIPAA-initiated situations. While these are relatively minor inconveniences, HIPAA can have more significant implications for contact centers that routinely interact with protected health information (PHI).
Contact Centers Impacted by HIPAA: Any contact center, regardless of size, that has access to PHI must adhere to HIPAA regulations. This includes “covered entities” (health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and healthcare providers) such as hospital business offices as well as “business associates” (persons or organizations contracted by covered entities), like out-sourced third-party debt collectors. It also includes benefit management companies, one- or two-person doctor’s office “contact centers,” and many others. The good news is that the Act recognizes “one size does not fit all” when it comes to volume of PHI or risk of exposure from one organization to another. To allow for these differences, the Act includes “flexible” and “scalable” standards; however, it does not mean that no standards apply.
HIPAA Guidelines: Contact centers working with PHI should take time to understand applicable HIPAA requirements. Start with the two primary building blocks: the Privacy Rule (protecting personally identifiable health information) and the Security Rule (operationalizing the privacy rule – keeping PHI safe electronically, on paper and verbally).
Here are some of the essentials from the Privacy Rule and Security Rule that contact center leaders should know:
- Ensure responsibility for HIPAA compliance within your company. The Act requires a Privacy Official and Security Official be designated; however, depending on the size of the organization, they may be the same person.
- Address the three HIPAA areas of concern: administrative safeguards, physical safeguards, and technical safeguards.
- When it comes to PHI, it is all about “minimum necessary.” PHI includes virtually all information, from patient names to medical procedures. The Act requires usage of the least amount of PHI to accomplish a task. Minimum necessary compliance should be monitored in the quality assurance process and modeled in conversations within the contact center.
- HIPAA does not include a certification process. It is up to each organization to understand which HIPAA requirements apply to them and to comply with those standards.
Final Thoughts: HIPAA compliance should not be taken lightly. Failure to adhere to HIPAA regulations can result in fines and, if violated with malicious intent, prison sentences. If your contact center is looking for assistance in becoming HIPAA compliant, contact Jana Benetti at Jana.benetti@DMGConsult.com or 623-935-4111.
HealthStream Introduces Echo Inc. to Deliver Contact Center Solutions: HealthStream announced the launch of Echo Inc., its newly formed company that combines its HealthLine Systems and SyMed Development businesses (acquired in March 2015 and October 2012 respectively). Echo addresses medical staff credentialing, payer credentialing, provider enrollment, provider analytics, and contact center solutions. Echo offers five primary solutions for healthcare organizations, which can be deployed individually or integrated. They are EchoCredentialing, EchoOneApp, EchoAccess, EchoAnalytics, and EchoOnboarding.
The Telephone Triage Handbook: The TriageLogic Group released their new e-book, The Telephone Triage Handbook: A Convenient Guide for Providers, written by Charu G. Raheja, PhD. This book shares telemedicine innovations, relevant data, benefits of telephone nurse triage, and insights from the TriageLogic Group, which has taken over one million telephone triage calls in the last ten years. The handbook is available in the Amazon and Kindle stores for $0.99 and is available for free PDF download from triagelogic.com.
Guthrie Wins Innovation Award for Patient Satisfaction: Guthrie, an integrated health system based in north central Pennsylvania and south central New York, is the winner of the 2015 Spok Innovation Award for creatively using Spok® solutions to improve patient satisfaction for the inventive way it delivers periodic updates to patients’ families during lengthy surgical procedures. Family members at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. are given a tablet loaded with the Spok Mobile® secure texting app in the waiting room, and Guthrie’s operating room nurses send them timely updates about the patient’s care and progress. Nurses launch these messages from any computer in the hospital via Guthrie’s Spok web directory, which delivers messages to a variety of endpoints, such as pagers, wireless IP phones, smartphones, and in this case, tablets.
A Thought For Today
“Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except the best.” -Henry van Dyke