By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
Is seems that 2016 is flying by. Before we know it, we’ll be turning our calendars over to 2017 (metaphorically speaking at least, since few people use paper calendars anymore). Halloween has just past, Thanksgiving will soon be here, followed by Christmas and then New Year’s. January 1, 2017, looms large.
How are you doing on your 2016 project list? If you’re like me your list for this year was more ambitious than the time available to complete it. Yes, I have many projects still to do. Though it’s tempting to coast through the rest of the year, doing only what needs our attention and starting anew on January first, remember that we still have two months left in this year. Let’s make the most of it.
How many of your pending 2016 projects and goals can you complete in the next two months? Make a plan and form a strategy to accomplish as much as you can. Not only will you finish the year with a sense of accomplishment – and relief – but you will also have fewer items to transfer to your 2017 list. (Please tell me that I’m not the only one to do that.)
As we look ahead to the rest of 2016, holidays, days off work, and a new year, remind yourself of one thing for these next eight weeks: finish strong.
The next issue of Medical Call Center News will come out in the New Year on January 3, 2017, and I’ll check with you to see how you did. Until then, remember to finish strong.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D., 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.
Content Marketing: Need content for your blog or website? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates are only $175 per page or post. Themes include healthcare call centers, customer service, general business, and more. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.
Good HIPAA Practices Make for Good Call Center Habits
By Janet Livingston
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has critical ramifications for medical call centers. A lack of compliance with HIPAA regulations can result in monetary damages in the form of fines for security breaches and reputation damages in the form of negative publicity over security violations.
While the full scope of HIPAA best practices are widespread, here are three areas of critical importance.
Address Internal Security: Not only does the call center facility need building security and secured access, but internal security is also a critical issue under HIPAA. Certain areas must be restricted to unauthorized personnel. For example, the operations room should be off-limits to visitors and even some ancillary staff. Similarly, the technology hubs, such as the computer room and telecommunications center, should be under lockdown at all times and accessible only to authorized technical personnel.
Enforce a Password Policy: Passwords are unpopular but necessary. Good passwords keep personal health information private. Call centers need a thorough password policy that is rigorously imposed. The policy should include periodic password changes, not reusing former passwords, and not sharing passwords with coworkers regardless of the circumstances.
Deploy Shred Bins: While many dream of a truly paperless office, the reality is that despite well-meaning intentions, printed documents that contain sensitive information will still result. This might be through negligence, oversight, or expediency. Regardless, call centers must destroy these paper documents as soon as their usefulness ends. The best solution is to immediately shred such documents in a micro-cut shredder. However, shredders are loud devices that don’t align well with the call center’s need to minimize noise. The solution is to position shred bins at convenient locations throughout the call center and surrounding areas. Authorized personnel will routinely shred the contents of the locked shred bin according to documented security protocols.
These three elements are not only key for HIPAA compliance in healthcare call centers, but they are emerging as call center best practices across all industries.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of healthcare call center and medical answering service staff. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.
Healthcare Call Center News
Call 4 Health Relocates to Delray Beach: Call 4 Health relocated its headquarters and call center from Boca Raton to a larger facility in Delray Beach, Florida, where it plans to hire more than one hundred employees over the next twelve months. The company was founded in Boca Raton nineteen years ago. Call 4 Health CEO Joseph Pores said the business has grown by more than 50 percent a year each of the last three years. The company ran out of room to grow in Boca Raton, where it occupied 8,000 square feet in several locations. They considered multiple sites from before leasing 17,800 square feet at 2855 South Congress Avenue in Delray Beach.
The call center agents help schedule appointments, field after-hours calls, and operate as a hospital switchboard, among other duties. Most of their calls are inbound, and they’re open 24/7. It cost about $600,000 to renovate the new offices. Pores said it gutted the building and replaced the flooring, lights, and furniture. Its offices include a sound-masking system to dampen the noise in the call center, a mothers’ room, standing desks, and a meditation room. “We were able to design it to suit our needs for the next ten years and beyond,” Pores concluded.
1Call Conference Sets Record: The 1Call 2016 Leadership Conference and Training Seminar set a new record for the number of attendees for the second year in a row. Several attendees presented their success stories on topics including “How MergeComm Improves Notification Practices and Increases Efficiencies,” “How to Roll Out miSecureMessages,” “Increasing Agent Productivity with Soft Agent,” and “Best Practices of Applications and Reports.”
Additional leadership topics included, “You’re Never Far From Good Health,” “Improving Workflows with MergeComm,” and “Disaster Planning for Your Call Center.” Attendees learned about the newest Infinity features, the new Genesis software switching solution, MergeComm, and miSecureMessages. Training sessions covered directories, on-call scheduling, and scripting. One of the highlights this year was a trip to the SSM Health Dean Medical Group to see their call center in action. Attend next year’s conference, September 12-14, 2017, in Madison, Wisconsin.
A Thought For Today
“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” -William Butler Yeats