Now Is the Ideal Time to Consider What Happens Next
While Still in the Pandemic Begin Planning for Post-Pandemic
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
During the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare call centers stepped up to take a more prominent role to facilitate patient-facing communications. Though a few missteps may have occurred along the way as they forged into the unknown, overall they met the challenge facing them, ramped up well, and processed more calls than ever. In the short medical calls, centers shined brightly.
Though the worst may be behind us, a long road of uncertainty still lies ahead. But as we catch our breath, let’s also look forward to past the coronavirus crisis to consider what healthcare call centers will look like in the future. They proved to everyone that they can adapt and do more to advance the provision of healthcare services. Let’s build upon this success.
In planning for what happens next, be it a return to normal, a new normal, or a continuation of the crisis, there are three questions every healthcare call center should ask.
1. What Went Well?
There is much to celebrate in how call centers acquitted themselves during this crisis. Note each one of your success areas. Document what contributed to each one and the steps taken to achieve those results. If we’re ever faced with a comparable situation, being able to build on what went well this time will help you to get to where you need to be next time faster.
2. What Could’ve Gone Better?
Next look at the snags that impeded reaching the desired outcomes as quickly as you would’ve liked. These can include redeploying to work-at-home scenarios, managing a distributed workforce, or having the needed policies and procedures in place. Begin working now to make sure these past roadblocks don’t become future inhibitors.
3. How Can You Be Better Prepared?
A common struggle that many call centers face is that their infrastructure didn’t allow the flexibility needed to allow for off-site work or to expand existing capacity. This could entail changes to software licensing or expanding infrastructure. In some cases, however, this might require replacing the on-site legacy system you have now with a more flexible, cloud-based alternative.
The one thing you don’t want to do is to return to business as usual and expect a crisis like this will never recur.
Featured Sponsor: LVM Systems
LVM Systems develops and markets software and related internet products exclusively for the healthcare call center industry. Their primary niche is solutions that support nurse triage, disease management, patient transfer, and referral/marketing services, including consumer-centered internet products. They have proudly served this market for 30 years, with hundreds of healthcare organizations as clients. The company’s cornerstones are comprehensive software, outstanding customer support, and proven clinical content supported by Drs. Barton Schmitt and David Thompson. The LVM team also supplies implementation services, on-site training, phone, and remote-access support, network consultation, user conferences, customization of screens, and custom reports. Contact LVM at 480-633-8200.
Cyber Security in a Medical Call Center
By Bobby Bennett
With cyberattacks on the rise, what steps should a healthcare call center take to prevent falling victim? The first is to recognize it could happen to anyone. Do not equate small with safe. According to a 2017 Trend Micro online survey, 45 percent of small business owners believe they will never be a target. The cybersecurity firm 4iQ states in its 2019 Identity Breach Report that cybercriminals targeted small businesses with cyber-attacks at an inordinate rate in 2018—up 425 percent over the previous year.
Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks
- Install, use, and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business.
- Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
- Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available.
- Make backup copies of important business data and information.
- Control physical access to your computers and network components.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network and make sure it is hidden.
- Require individual user accounts for each employee.
- Limit employee access to data and information. Also limit authority to install the software.
- Regularly change passwords.
- Consider two-factor authentication such as password and PIN.
The Federal Communications Commission provides a Small Biz Cyber Security Planner on their website.
Bobby Bennett is the western regional sales manager for Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascam, leading providers of best-in-class contact center solutions for healthcare and medical telephone answering service call centers. Startel’s Alston Tascam Division has created a stand-alone, vendor-agnostic secure messaging gateway which has integrations with some of the most popular secure messaging providers. Contact Bobby at email@example.com or 800-782-7835.
Healthcare Call Center News
Implement Virtual Healthcare Call Centers to Address COVID-19: TriageLogic announced a quick-to-deploy and easy-to-use telehealth system with a virtual call center that hospitals, medical organizations, and health centers can use for patient care during the COVID-19 crisis.
As health organizations adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, they look for a system they can deploy quickly for staff and nurses to work remotely to set up doctor visits, answer patient questions, evaluate their symptoms, and determine who needs further evaluation by a doctor. Team members can communicate with their physicians and set up two-way video visits using secure, HIPAA-compliant texting options that do not require the use of a mobile app. This allows the remote hospital associates to set up and coordinate telehealth visits for doctors instead of in-person visits.
Protocols Updated to Cover Coronavirus: To address coronavirus concerns, Doctors Schmitt and Thompson have updated their clinical content protocols. The coronavirus protocols include appropriate questions to screen patients who may be at risk as well as dispositions based on symptoms and exposure. The protocols also have pertinent information from a public health reporting perspective to help prevent the spread of the virus.
As the virus outbreak continues to evolve, TriageLogic will provide its clients with the latest information to allow for the best possible patient care.
Contact TriageLogic if you have questions about their protocols or if you would like their triage nurses to be available to answer your patient phone calls.
Send us your healthcare call center articles and news for the next issue of Medical Call Center News.
A Thought for Today
“The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” -Vincent van Gogh