Is It Time to Start a Medical Answering Service?
Begin Your Investigation with a Little Research
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
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 is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat. Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.
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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 are 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
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, Ph.D., 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.
A Thought for Today
Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do. -Voltaire