The March 2016 Issue



Does Your Call Center Have a Fast-Food Hiring Mentality?

By Peter L. DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorWhen I worked as a consultant, one healthcare call center client’s staff kept complaining, “People working in fast food make more than we do.” After hearing too many such complaints, I visited the seven fast-food restaurants within walking distance of the call center. The staff was wrong, but the misinformation had gone unchallenged. After hearing the lie too often, the staff soon believed it as truth. My client had some work to do.

Compensation is a huge issue for call centers. Pay too little and turnover shoots up, training costs increase, and morale decreases. Pay too much and expenses exceed income. No organization can remain viable if it loses money every month.

But what is an appropriate pay rate? Fortunately, the answer is close to home, back at our local fast-food restaurants.

Quite simply, if you hire call center agents at a fast-food wage, you’ll get a fast-food mentality and a fast-food performance. Yes, you will find the occasional star employee, but how long do you expect to retain him or her? Generally, you find people with little work experience. They view the job as temporary, don’t understand customer service, and fail to comprehend the necessity of being at work on time (much less giving two weeks’ notice before quitting).

To succeed, healthcare call centers must pay more than fast-food restaurants, but how much more? Even fifty cents an hour can make a difference. But a dollar or two will have a much greater effect – if you do it right.

What you must avoid when raising your starting wage is to merely make it easier to find the same caliber of people; you must raise your standards, too. When you pay more, you can expect more.

To determine the appropriate hourly rate for your call center agents you could pay someone thousands of dollars to do a wage study, or you could just visit your local fast-food restaurants. Then distinguish your hourly rate and corresponding expectations from theirs.

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


Gear Up for HIPAA Phase II in Your Healthcare Contact Center

By Geoff Mina

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is releasing several key updates to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. As of now no official announcement has been made regarding when the second round of audits, referred to as HIPAA Phase II, will take effect.

One of the most important changes will affect the types of organizations targeted by HIPAA. Phase I HIPAA only affected healthcare providers. Under Phase II, however, business associates of healthcare providers (such as their call centers) will also receive random audits.

At first the OCR will look for areas with “heightened risk” or revealed to be in non-compliance after HIPAA Phase I was completed. These areas include processes such as notifying patients and customers about privacy practices, performing timely breach notifications and incident responses, and setting up strong data access controls for employees. Other areas include risk analysis and management, workforce member training, transmission security, and device and media controls.

Eventually they will consider encryption and decryption, breach reports, complaints, and facility access control as well. So it’s important that businesses start preparing ahead of time for these changes.

If your business is selected for an audit, you will have two weeks to respond to the request and submit the required information. Audits will take place over a three-year period.

In preparation for a possible audit, it’s important to assess your contact center’s compliance as it relates to HIPAA Phase II and focus on:

  • Securing protected health information
  • Encrypt all protected health information
  • Use VPN for offsite agent access
  • Avoid recording sensitive information (or securely protect its accessibility)
  • Enforce a strong password policy

By preparing ahead of time and assessing your current risk levels and areas that need improvement, you will reduce the likelihood of running into trouble.

Geoff Mina is the chief technology officer and founder of Connect First.


Healthcare Call Center News

Ameridial Announces New Executive VP and VP of Healthcare Sales

Ameridial, a customer service solution center, announced two notable promotions. With ten years of customer service and sales expertise, Matt McGeorge was named executive vice president of the privately held organization. Over the past seven years, McGeorge has immersed himself in the business, learning and mastering every nuance of the organization, from call center operations to client services. Matt has demonstrated a thorough understanding of the day-to-day operations and program management, with a proven record of accomplishment meeting and exceeding client goals and expectations. McGeorge will be responsible for the company’s overall sales and marketing strategy.

Similar in background and breadth of industry expertise, Craig Vretas was appointed vice president of healthcare services. A true call center professional, Vretas worked his way from managing the call center to project management, most recently serving as director of business development. Joining the Ameridial team in 1997, Craig’s expertise in customer service and support lend unparalleled professionalism and integrity to every project. Vretas will be responsible for developing and acquiring new business for Ameridial’s healthcare division.

1Call Adds New Member to Sales Team

The 1Call Division of Amtelco announced the recent addition of Pat Dye to the 1Call sales team. Pat will serve as the regional sales manager for Texas and Oklahoma. Pat started his career with Amtelco in 1999 as an installer. Pat has also served as a project manager, team leader, and in sales, including his most recent position as a sales manager for miSecureMessages.

1Call’s senior vice president of sales, Mike Friedel stated, “We are very excited to have Pat working the healthcare market in Texas and Oklahoma. Pat’s diverse background in installation, service, project management, and sales all provide him with the tools to develop new business, and provide quality sales assistance to our customers.”

Spok Healthcare Communications Conference

Spok’s annual healthcare communications conference is offering attendees something fresh this year. Instead of one event, Connect 16 will be a series of daylong programs held in six locations around the country, with the theme of “On the Road: Continuing the Conversation.” The Connect 16 events will provide a lively forum for healthcare leaders to share ideas and discuss trends in healthcare communications.

“We decided to hold regional conferences this year in an effort to bring the best of our annual event to more people,” said Vincent D. Kelly, chief executive officer of Spok Holdings, Inc. “These one-day gatherings will offer all the key elements from our national event, including industry trend sessions, case studies, networking, and opportunities to learn more about Spok’s plans.”

Each event will feature sessions on strategic secure text messaging, how to create and maintain a mobile program, the future of the contact center, and a local case study. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet with Spok staff and partners.

“Our annual conference has always been a great way for our customers to network with one another and learn about potential solutions to their communications challenges,” said Kelly. “We hope these events will provide a more accessible and convenient option for many of them.”

The Connect 16 regional conferences will kick off in Dallas on March 24, move to Boston and New York in May, followed by Chicago in September, San Francisco in October, and Atlanta in December. For a detailed schedule and registration options, visit http://www.cvent.com/events/connect-17-new-orleans/event-summary-3f480770994d4f3c9191c39fa37398e9.aspx.


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A Thought For Today

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” -Chinua Achebe

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About Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly. Peter DeHaan’s personal website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages.