Provide Ongoing Instruction to Your Medical Call Center Staff
Training New Hires to Answer Calls Is Just the Beginning
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
Every new employee needs some training before they are ready to process calls at your call center. The length of training varies from one operation to the next, but the inescapable fact is that training does occur. But in too many cases once this initial training is over, all intentional instruction stops. Too many call centers fail to provide ongoing educational support for their staff.
Here are some areas to consider.
Follow-Up Training: Telling someone how to do something once isn’t enough. They won’t retain much of it for the long-term. The longer they work at your call center, the more bad habits they’ll pickup—either from themselves or from their coworkers. They’ll discover shortcuts that may appear to make their work easier but will end up circumventing the proper way you want them to do things.
That’s why existing employees need to receive periodic reminders of how you want them to do their work. Without it, they’re bound to veer from the path you put them on when you first trained them as a new hire.
Advanced Skills Education: After employees have learned the basics of processing phone calls and had some time to put their skills into practice in a real-world environment, now it’s time to add to their skill set. Teach them advanced customer service techniques that they can apply to their work. And even if you touched on these during their initial training, they lacked the framework to fully comprehend what you wanted them to learn.
Now that they have experience taking calls, they’re ready to receive and implement more robust call-handling techniques. Once they experience firsthand a need for these advanced skills, they’ll be more likely to listen to your instruction and apply it to their work.
Technology Update Instruction: The final area for ongoing staff instruction relates to new and updated applications, software, and procedures. Don’t implement an upgrade or process and expect your staff to figure it out on their own. This wastes their time and increases their frustration level. Instead, offer relevant instruction to them before they encounter any change.
Make Ongoing Education a Mindset: Too many call centers view training as a once-and-done necessity. They can’t figure out why experienced agents make basic mistakes, develop bad attitudes, or quit in frustration. In many cases being intentional about providing advanced training would have made the difference.
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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Tips for Telephone Triage Nurses to Reduce Stress
By Dr. Ravi Raheja
Telephone triage nurses work all hours of the day and night, with many staying at home and being more stationary throughout the day because of the pandemic. This can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health that in return can negatively affect your work. To stay motivated and keep energy levels up, here are some exercises to reduce stress on the body.
Neck Stretch: This simple stretch helps loosen up the large upper back and neck muscle called the trapezius. It can ease tension, reduce stiffness, and prevent headaches.
- Sit straight in your chair.
- Without lifting your shoulder to meet it, try to touch your ear to your shoulder.
- Use your hand to push lightly until you feel the stretch in your neck.
- Hold for ten to fifteen seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Shoulder Roll: Although not a stretch, this technique is another stress reliever. People often hold tension in their shoulders without realizing it.
- Sit straight in your chair.
- Roll your shoulders forward ten times. Take your time.
- Roll your shoulders backward ten times as well.
Overhead Triceps Stretch: Your triceps is the muscle on the back of your upper arm that helps extend your arm.
- Sit up or stand straight.
- Reach your arm behind your head as if to touch the opposite shoulder, but let your hand relax where it falls, usually mid-back.
- Place your other hand just beneath the elbow.
- Gently pull your arm toward your ear so that you can feel a stretch. Do not try to pull it past your ear or force it farther than is comfortable.
- Hold twenty to thirty seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Leg Lifts: You don’t make extensive use of your legs when seated. It’s easy to end up with aching or sleeping muscles when it’s time to stand. Leg lifts exercise the quadriceps, a group of muscles on the front of your thigh.
- Sit straight in your chair.
- Slowly lift one leg until it is straight out in front of you.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Lower your leg until your foot almost touches the floor.
- Repeat fifteen times, then do the same with the other leg.
Calf Raises: This exercise requires standing up to be most beneficial, since it uses your own body weight as resistance. However, it works when seated as well. It is an exercise that works the calf muscles on the back of the lower leg.
- Stand or sit up straight.
- Slowly lift onto the balls of your feet, as if walking tiptoe.
- Slowly lower your heels until they almost touch the ground.
- Repeat thirty times.
Breathing: Sometimes telephone triage can be challenging, especially with emotional patients. It’s often important to stop between calls to put yourself at ease. Simple breathing exercises can help slow a racing heart rate, relieve tension, and increase brain functionality.
- Sit up straight in your chair.
- Inhale for five seconds, making sure to breathe slowly enough to enable the full five seconds but quickly enough to fully expand the chest. Try to use the diaphragm to inhale.
- Hold the breath for three seconds.
- Exhale for seven seconds. Again, do so slowly enough to use all seven but quickly enough to empty the lungs.
- Repeat ten times, or as necessary.
Spending just a few minutes every day doing these exercises and tips can help improve your mental and physical health and keep you motivated during extended periods of time at home. Regular physical activity benefits both the mind and the body and can also reduce high blood pressure, manage weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. They are all conditions that can increase vulnerability to COVID-19.
Dr. Ravi Raheja is the CTO and medical director of Triage Logic. Visit their Learning Center for more tips for telephone triage nurses.
Healthcare Call Center News
TriageLogic CTO Honored by Jacksonville Business Journal: Dr. Ravi Raheja was honored as one of the 2020 recipients of the Jacksonville Business Journal’s award for Technology Leader of the Year. The award recognizes local entrepreneurs who are making innovative contributions to the field of technology and the local economy.
Dr. Raheja was honored as an award recipient for his role as CTO and medical director of Triage Logic. Drawing upon his background as a physician, Dr. Raheja uses his medical knowledge and patient experience to develop software that improves patient care.
“We have dealt with the changes in healthcare and technology by constantly innovating and coming up with new related lines of business to our core competency,” said Dr. Raheja. “We have also formed strategic partnerships to expand our market reach. The most important thing we have done is stayed true to our vision of providing high quality healthcare to everyone everywhere.”
TriageLogic is a URAC accredited provider of technology-based software and services for remote patient monitoring and quality nurse triage telehealth solutions. TriageLogic is a leading provider of comprehensive medical call center software and services and innovative online systems for use in institutional and private practice settings.
TriageLogic Plays Critical Role in COVID Telehealth: As the COVID pandemic evolved, TriageLogic saw call volume skyrocket and knew that systems and software would need to be put into place for healthcare institutions to assist with the increased demand in a remote care environment.
TriageLogic software solutions, which use the gold-standard Schmitt-Thompson protocols, had COVID protocols included to provide the latest standard of care as CDC recommendations evolved. TriageLogic implemented the COVID protocols in their system and on their call center software client systems. They also quickly set-up additional hospitals with a nurse triage software platform to allow their nurses to work remotely and assist in the screening of COVID phone calls.
Using nurse triage protocols in conjunction with doctor e-visits improves coordination of care and allows doctors to safely delegate responsibility to their nurses. TriageLogic software has recommendations for nurses to transfer to doctor telehealth visits when applicable. The software also enables the nurses to text or email custom information sheets to patients when scheduling their e-visit, so the patients are informed about the process and how to connect with their doctor.
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A Thought for Today
“Joy is the best makeup.” -Anne Lamott