Tag Archives: healthcare call center news

The July 2019 Issue



Healthcare Call Center Work Can Be Hard

Don’t Focus on the Angry Masses but Grab onto a Good Call Whenever Possible

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-call center

Working in a call center is challenging. Although it’s been a long time since I answered calls in one, I’m still aware of how hard it is. That’s because I’m now on the other end of the phone, such as for dealing with healthcare related issues.

In truth, I try to minimize my interaction with healthcare personnel, in large part because of the hassle that occurs once the appointment ends. I spend much more time trying to get the bill paid then I spent talking to the healthcare professional in the first place.

Attempting to get my provider to work with my payor is challenging at best, and a futile endeavor at worse. Neither party will talk to each other, which means me talking to them separately. This requires me phoning their respective call centers. Then I ping-pong back and forth, working hard to reach a resolution but making little progress. Too often I get a slightly different response each time I call. 

Currently, I have two outstanding medical invoices, which I’ve been working on for several months. It would be far simpler to ignore the negotiated fees and pay the billed amount in full, but because I must have insurance, I might as well try to use it. Right?

A recent call to my provider quickly escalated into a confrontation, with them threatening to turn me over to collections and me begging them to allow me to pay the negotiated fee as payment in full. They would have none of it. I may have raised my voice. I may have said some things I’m not proud of.

I hung up with equal parts remorse and frustration.

Three days later I called back for another round. I had new information. I knew I’d reach a different rep because they’re a large organization, and I’ve never talked to the same person twice.

Guess who answered the phone? Yep, the same person I failed to treat with respect on my prior call. I groaned to myself. I sucked in a lungful of courage and opened my mouth. “Hi! I talked with you a few days ago and wasn’t very nice. I’m sorry.”

She didn’t know what to say. Truly, she was speechless. After a silence long enough to make me wonder if I should apologize some more, she meekly said “Um . . . thank you.”

Although we had a civil conversation this time, I got no closer to getting my bill paid. I guess it’s time for another round of calls.

Call center work is hard, especially when callers don’t want to hear the information agents have to tell them. Difficult calls are common, so healthcare call center reps must take a small win whenever they can. If they hold onto it, it might help them weather the plethora of angry callers that are bound to follow.

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


Featured Sponsor: LVM Systems

LVM Systems: Helping Healthcare Call Centers Help Patients

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 provides implementation services, on-site training, phone and remote-access support, network consultation, user conferences, customization of screens, and custom reports. Contact LVM Systems at 480-633-8200.


Bridging the Access Gap

By Tom Cox

For many patients, finding the right physician and booking an appointment isn’t consumer friendly. Unfortunately, the process isn’t much easier on the other end, either. Even the best call center agents struggle trying to field hundreds of calls a day and book appointments in a timely manner. They use multiple systems with disjointed information, or worse, they flip through binders trying to find the appropriate provider for the patient. These procedural flaws bring pain to everyone involved, but the fall-out is patients getting frustrated with the difficulty and disengaging—often never receiving the care they need.

But there is hope. New digital care coordination solutions enable call centers to bridge the access gap with automated business rules, guided search, and real-time scheduling in a single platform.

Getting There Faster with Guided Search: Before digital care coordination, patients had no other option but to schedule a doctor appointment by phone. Many of these calls—especially for larger healthcare organizations—went to call centers where agents fielded the calls and scheduled the appointment. In other cases, with no centralized call center, the providers’ office staff took the calls among their other duties. 

Underneath what may seem like a simple task of scheduling over the phone lies a much more complex process: searching through binders of scheduling protocols and then flipping between different customer relationship management (CRM), electronic medical record (EMR), and practice management (PM) systems, all while the patient remains on the line. Phone calls could take up to twenty minutes while agents manually sifted through pages of information or put the patient on hold to verify insurance and other scheduling details.

Now, guided search, provided by digital care coordination, automates all scheduling protocols. This enables call center agents to find the right physician quickly and then schedule an appointment. Call center agents ask patients a set of qualifying questions, and the platform uses those responses to match patients to the best fit provider based on their care need. Once identifying a provider, call center agents have a real-time view of the provider’s schedule, allowing them to book an appointment on that call. What once was a manual, time-consuming process is now completed in a few minutes.

Guided search is particularly useful for health systems and other provider organizations tasked with navigating the complex and complicated world of specialty care. Scheduling protocols are more particular for specialists. The dangers of scheduling the wrong specialist risks care delays, consequential outcomes, and wasted time for both patient and provider. 

Making It Better with Analytics: The other critical factor is the availability of real-time analytics. While guided search is important for connecting patients to the right care, ongoing, accurate, and easily dissectible analysis of the process is necessary for straightening out any kinks and maximizing system efficiency. 

Rather than manually generating a report that is just a snapshot in time, a platform with built-in real-time analytics capabilities can make that information—and more—available at any time. Analytics can point to trends, averages, and benchmarks useful for optimizing the appointment scheduling process. 

Customized reports can track items such as provider utilization, pinpointing any bottlenecks in the scheduling process and highlighting areas to preserve time and resources. 

Faster, Easier Access to Care: Bridging the access gap is more than improving the scheduling process. Organizations should also consider the elements behind scheduling that prevent patients from getting the care they need in a timely manner. In most cases, there are two factors: the ability to identify the right doctor for a specific care need, and the ability to track scheduling and referral patterns, identifying areas for improvement. 

Tom Cox is the CEO of MyHealthDirect, a leading provider of digital care coordination solutions.


Healthcare Call Center News

Call 4 Health CEO Joe Pores Receives Excalibur Award

The Sun Sentinel honored six business leaders with its annual Excalibur Award, including Call 4 Health’s CEO Joe Pores. The Excalibur Awards recognize outstanding contributions to their organizations and communities. 

Awarded May 7, 2019, the Excalibur Awards honor business leaders in South Florida for 2018. The awards recognize business achievement and civic contributions each year, starting in 1978. The winners for this esteemed business leader of the year award were selected by a panel of the Sun Sentinel Media Group and nominations from the public.

Call 4 Health employs 300 people in Delray Beach, with offices near Baltimore and Nashville, where it employs 200 more. The company, which handles 1.5 million calls each month, generates more than $20 million in annual revenues, with an annual 25 percent growth rate.

Formed in 1997 as a medical answering service, the company expanded over the years from answering doctor office’s calls to offering advanced healthcare services including patient registration and appointment services for healthcare systems, hospitals, and hospice organizations. Additionally, some hospitals outsource their internal switchboard function to Call 4 Health


A Thought for Today

“Experience makes us see an enormous difference between piety and goodness.” -Blaise Pascal

The May 2019 Issue



The Weak Link of Medical Call Centers

Advances in Agent Performance Can’t Overcome Deficiencies in Backend Systems

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Whenever I place a phone call to a business, I carefully observe what happens. After spending most of my adult life in some aspect of the call center industry, I can’t help it.

Based on my observations, I’m happy to say that I’m encouraged by the quality of the agents I interact with. They are more personal and professional than agents who used to answer the phone even a few years ago. They have a positive, can-do attitude. Most of the time, I enjoy talking with them.

Unfortunately, quality agents don’t automatically make for satisfying phone calls. The technology that’s supposed to help them do their job better continues to hamper their work. Based on my experience, this is most pronounced in the healthcare industry. Other industries appear to be dealing with this frontend/backend disconnect with varying degrees of success, yet healthcare—for all its technology—still struggles to produce satisfying outcomes for their patient callers.

I wish I could say this article is the result of one bad experience. Unfortunately that’s not the case. This is a result of several bad experiences. It’s a saga of multiple calls without resolution. At this point I’m prepared to never experience a satisfactory outcome. In case you’re wondering, it’s a billing snafu.

Part of it hinges on faxes sent multiple times but never received—or at least never connected with my account. In the day of digital communications and electronic health records, why are we still using faxes anyway?

In case you’re interested, faxing started in the mid-1840s, only a decade or so after the telegraph. Yet we’re still using fax technology today. (Thankfully we’re not using the telegraph. Can you imagine looking to hire agents who know Morse Code?)

Anyway, how can agents do their job with excellence when they’re using technology that’s over 170 years old? While other technological hurdles agents face aren’t as old, these obstacles still present a cumbersome challenge and thwart attempts at customer service.

Today’s call center technology can integrate incoming channels, but in the healthcare industry it’s still challenging to integrate the various information silos with any degree of success.

Let’s applaud our call center agents for the job they do, despite technological roadblocks. Then let’s work at fixing backend system integrations so agents can do the job they want to do and serve patient callers the way they expect—and to do it on one phone call. It’s first call resolution (FCR), and it’s time for the healthcare industry to embrace it.

Imagine what your healthcare call center traffic would look like if you could achieve first call resolution on every call. It would change everything.

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


Featured Sponsor: Call 4 Health

Call4Health

Call 4 Health is a leading medical call center with a genuine understanding of the patient’s perspective. Delivering compassionate commitment with quality medical solutions to their clients since 1997, Call 4 Health has a keen understanding of what it is like to face trauma and has developed a sound system to seamlessly balance professionalism with compassion.

Their call representatives understand the difficulties in facing traumas and coping with treatments as well as the emotional and financial strains those challenges present. With an altruistic approach, they place patients and their families first. Compassion is more than just a word at Call 4 Health, it drives them. Customer service excellence is not something they just “talk about.” They deliver it every day. For more information, visit www.call4health.com or call 855-244-3258.


The Golden Rules of Telephone Triage

By Rose Moon, RN, BSN

Successful triage nurses live by the following golden rules of the telephone triage process:

  1. Every call is life threatening until proven otherwise.
  2. Complete an ABCD assessment with every telephone encounter: Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Deficit (Neuro).
  3. Assessing patients over the phone is high risk; therefore, take the callers word as truth.
  4. Follow your sixth sense: protocols are decision support tools; nursing judgment determines outcomes.
  5. Know your patients’ medical history and current medications.
  6. Assess your callers as well as your patients. Be a patient advocate.
  7. Never provide a dosage of a medication without a complete patient assessment.
  8. Always confirm labeled dosage of a medication as well as the means in which the caretaker plans to administer the drug.
  9. Always assess the caller’s level of comfort with the established plan of care before ending the call.
  10. “Are you comfortable with these recommendations?”
  11. “Now tell me what you plan to do next.”
  12. If it is not documented, it didn’t happen. Use defensive documentation. Paint a picture.
  13. Regardless of the reason for the call, always obtain a rectal temperature on an infant under the age of three months.
  14. Document the exact mechanism of injury.
  15. Be alert for red flags. Any time a caller uses or implies one of the following phrases be sure to clarify the underlying meaning. Carefully analyze your disposition and recommendation for follow-up care:
  16. Grunting or moaning
  17. Lethargic or listless
  18. Sleeping more than usual
  19. Just doesn’t look right, act right, or is fussy
  20. Sleeps through a rectal temperature
  21. High pitched cry or unusual, funny cry
  22. History of sickle cell or immune deficiency
  23. Frequent caller
  24. Caller that expresses anxiousness or numerous questions after discussing a plan of care
  25. Patient symptoms of headache, dizziness, disorientation, nausea, fatigue, or irritability; flu versus carbon monoxide exposure
  26. At the conclusion of the patient telephone encounter, instruct callers to call back or seek medical evaluation if current symptoms become worse or additional signs and symptoms of concern develop.

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

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A Thought for Today

A timid question will always receive a confident answer. -Charles John Darling

The March 2019 Issue



Is It Time to Start a Medical Answering Service?

Begin Your Investigation with a Little Research

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

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.

Featured Sponsor: Answering Service One

Answering Service One: medical answering service and healthcare call center services

Answering Service One offers a new approach to medical answering service and healthcare call center services. Answering Service One doesn’t sell services or tout features. They offer solutions that provide tangible benefits and sought-after outcomes to the healthcare industry.

Let Answering Service One become your number one resource for communicating with patients and callers. With Answering Service One, you can reduce expenses, provide excellence to patients, enhance communications, and realize increased focus.

The motto of Answering Service One says it all: “Number one in quality, number one in customer service, and number one in value.”

To learn more about Answering Service One’s 24-hour medical answering service and healthcare call center service for your practice, clinic, facility, or hospital, contact them at 800-901-7776 or sales@answeringserviceone.com.

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 is 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

1Call Introduces Intelligent Series Version 5.3: The 1Call Division of Amtelco announced the release of version 5.3 of their Intelligent Series (IS) software. It contains several updates and additions including:

  • the transfer of voicemail from Infinity to IS for use with the Genesis system,
  • ACD answer call setting to reassign parked calls to another ACD skill,
  • auto-answer announcement greetings,
  • the addition of conference join call recording to conference join and patch call states so that both conferences and patches can be recorded, and
  • an IS supervisor dashboard allowing users to configure multiple dashboard layouts that can be filled with a choice of widgets.

Amtelco’s vice president of research and development, Kevin Beale stated, “We are thrilled to be able to release this impressive software update. Countless hours have been spent researching, developing, and refining each feature, ensuring they will meet the needs of our customers and helping them improve communications with their patients and physicians.”

For more information: 800-225-6035, info@1call.com, or www.1call.com.

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, PhD, 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.

1Call’s Genesis Intelligent Series Receives Unify Certification: The 1Call Division of Amtelco received interoperability certification for the Genesis Intelligent Series call center console solution with the version 8.x Unify OpenScape 4000 PBX (private branch exchange) by the Unify Technology Partner Program, based in Munich, Germany, on December 3, 2018. Amtelco is a Unify Technology Partner, with Advanced Level status.

Testing the interoperability between 1Call’s Genesis Intelligent Series solution and Unify’s open SIP interface for the OpenScape 4000 PBX was conducted remotely in October by 1Call’s PBX Integration Lab staff in McFarland, Wisconsin, and the Unify Communications Development Lab in Beersel, Belgium.

1Call received interoperability certification from Unify in 2016 for the Infinity Intelligent Series call center console solution with the version 7.x Unify OpenScape 4000 PBX. According to Amtelco president Tom Curtin, “Amtelco is extremely excited to have this certification to bring to our wonderful partner-customers that are looking forward to getting the best of Unify and Genesis in one tight integration.”

For more information: 800-225-6035, info@1call.com, or www.1call.com.

A Thought for Today

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do. -Voltaire

The January 2019 Issue



What Message Does your Call Center Send?

Is Saying “Your Call Is Important to Us” Rhetoric or Reality?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Whenever I call a company, I pay close attention to what happens. You probably do too. I look for specific details that thrill me. I also look for areas that need improvement. And I especially note my overall reaction to the call. Did they delight me, treat me with respect, and leave me with a satisfied feeling? Or did I feel frustrated over their indifferent attitude, poor response, and haste to move on to the next call?

If I’m delighted, I look forward to my next call. If I’m frustrated, I don’t want to call again and will do anything to avoid it. Today’s results foretell future interaction.

Every call center says, “your call is important to us,” but sometimes they don’t act like it. As agents breathlessly rush from one call to the next, they send the opposite message, that my call is an eruption to them and causes irritation.

In the healthcare industry, call centers rise in importance as a key means to serve patients and enhance their overall level of care. While the call center can’t replace in-person interaction with a trained healthcare professional, a good call center can certainly supplement it and serve as an invaluable resource to advance the overall level of care.

This, of course, depends on the call center agent delighting the caller, of giving focused, unhurried attention. They must fully and professionally address the reason for the call. However, a medical call center that leaves patients feeling frustrated, hampers the overall provision of quality care and lessens the chance of the patient calling back the next time they have a need.

In your medical call center make sure the phrase, “Your call is important to us,” is more than a slogan or a hollow promise. Make sure you show each caller just how important they are by how you treat them and how you serve them. That’s the message your call center wants to send on every call. That’s the way to make your operation be an indispensable part of the overall provision of healthcare in your community.

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


Featured Sponsor: TriageLogic

TriageLogic

TriageLogic is a leading provider of quality, affordable triage solutions, including comprehensive after-hours call center services and innovative online systems for use in both institutional and private practice settings.

In 2005, board certified pediatrician Ravi K. Raheja, MD and Charu Raheja, PhD, saw a need for accurate, reliable, cost-effective triage services in both hospital and private practice settings. After extensive research and investment in the development of proprietary triage software technology, they founded TriageLogic

TriageLogic creates leading-edge telephone medicine technology based on practical experience and a thorough understanding of the field. Whether a busy private practice in need of a phone triage system or a hospital seeking complete after-hours call center solutions, TriageLogic has a product to meet those needs.


Eliminate Patient Irritation over the Phone Automation

By Aaron Boatin

To cut costs, too many medical practices have made the error of scaling back what they allow their answering services to do for them. In place of a real, live human being, the cost-conscious doctor makes a mistake of forcing automation on their patients when they call.

Though automation may save a few dollars a day on an already-affordable medical answering service bill, the impact of automation on patients’ regard for their providers is devastating. Automation replaces human interaction with impersonal technology. When a patient calls hoping for a listening, empathetic ear, the last thing they want to encounter is an answering machine, voicemail jail, or endless prompts to press various digits, which invariably fails to get them to their desired destination.

And that’s for providers who try to mix automation with a live medical answering service. What about practices that force their patients into a 100 percent automated solution?

What’s a patient’s common reaction? They hang up in disgust. Yes, they may pick up the phone again, but they’re more likely to call another provider then to call their doctor’s office back. When this happens, the small savings of automation comes at the expense of losing the lifetime value of a patient.

Yes, medical answering services should offer automated solutions to their clients who need them, but these answering services should also steer their clients toward live services whenever possible. This is the best way to serve answering service clients and their patients.

Aaron Boatin is president of Ambs Call Center, a virtual receptionist and telephone answering service provider that specializes in serving the healthcare industry.  This article is adapted from the post “10 Ways Your Patients Benefit from a Doctors Answering Service.”


Healthcare Call Center News

Call 4 Health Announces 5th Annual User Conference: Call 4 Health announced details for its 5th Annual User Conference, January 16-17, 2019 at the Delray Beach Marriott. The intensive, two-day event will focus on customer service satisfaction, in which participants will acquire the essential tools, resources, and solutions necessary to manage and elevate their business’s healthcare footprint. Conference features include informative industry lectures, networking opportunities, and interactive discussion pods to bring businesses to the next level and beyond.

“The Annual User Conference is our way of equipping industry clients and partners with the influential tools they need to thrive in the healthcare industry,” said Joseph Pores, CEO of Call 4 Health. “This year’s schedule of training sessions, networking opportunities, and entertainment is sure to make the 2019 conference unparalleled.”

Call 4 HealthSponsors include 1 Call, Compass IT Compliance, Commonwealth Purchasing Group, Crown Castle, and BlueStream. For more information visit call4health.com.

1Call to Exhibit at HIMSS19 Conference: 1Call, the division of Amtelco that specializes in offering enterprise-wide communication solutions for healthcare organizations, will again exhibit at the 2019 HIMSS conference, taking place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida on February 11–15, 2019, booths 4549 and 1971. This year’s theme is “It’s All About the Why” to highlight 1Call’s commitment to deliver fast, secure, and accurate communications to help provide the best patient experience.

Demonstrations of their HIPAA-compliant miSecureMessages secure messaging app will occur at both booths to show how easy it is to send secure text, photo, audio, and video content. For more information on 1Call at HIMSS19, contact 1Call at 800-225-6035 or info@1call.com.


A Thought for Today

It is by character and not by intellect the world is won. -Evelyn Beatrice Hall

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The November 2018 Issue



Will You Help Us Get the Word Out About Medical Call Center News?

Please Tell Your Team, Coworkers, and Colleagues About Medical Call Center News

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Medical Call Center News has a loyal group of subscribers. You appreciate our content and read most every issue. But our subscriber list also changes a bit from one issue to the next, with a 2.3 percent churn rate. Some people retire or move to other jobs, while new people join the industry or discover our publication. This is a constant reminder that the healthcare industry is undergoing constant change, perhaps more than any other industry.

Given these changes, our overall subscriber numbers stay fairly constant, but we’d like more people to receive Medical Call Center News. Will you do me a favor and help us get the word out?

Please take a few moments and think of team members, coworkers, and industry colleagues who might not be receiving Medical Call Center News. Will you please send them a quick email and ask them to check us out and subscribe?

As you may recall, subscribing to Medical Call Center News is a quick and easy process. We request four pieces of basic information and only require two: your email address and first name. To do things properly, it’s a double opt-in process, so once you submit your subscription information, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Just click on “confirm” and your good to go. It’s that easy.

And don’t worry. We won’t share your name or email with anyone or spam you. You may unsubscribe at any time, but if we do our job right, I don’t think you will.

That’s my request. Now it’s your turn. Please let your call center team, coworkers, and colleagues know about Medical Call Center News.

Thank you!

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


Featured Sponsor: Pulsar360

Pulsar360 provides carrier services and disaster recovery for medical answering services

Pulsar360, Inc. has served the telecommunications requirements of SMB to Enterprise business customers since 2001 and the medical call center industry since 2008.

Pulsar360 services over 160 medical-centric answering services, meeting their special requirements, which includes, at no additional charge: 20 percent burstable trunking; SIP trunking, toll free number and national network redundancy; and an infinite number of automatic fail over alternatives.

In addition, Pulsar360 offers hot-standby business continuity/disaster recovery solutions designed for medical call centers. If the call center’s premise system is down or cloud system is off-line, calls automatically failover and are delivered directly to operator desktop with calling party ID and customer name or account number. Also included are cloud-based IVR, multiple call queues, and skills-based routing, when in failover mode.

Pulsar360 and our other sponsors make Medical Call Center News possible. Please join us in thanking them for their support.


How Healthcare Call Centers Can Increase Patient Satisfaction

By Aaron Boatin

Doctors answering services have been around for a long time. But that doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. In fact, they may be more important now than ever before. Over time the medical answering service has continued to evolve to meet healthcare providers’ needs and their patients’ expectations. With an emphasis on the personal touch, a medical answering service applies the latest technology to their service offerings so they can provide best-in-class service to their healthcare clients.

As a result, a medical answering service is a critical tool for healthcare providers in the provision of medical services. This is due to the positive, always-available professionalism that a medical answering service has on a practice’s patients and callers.

In healthcare, providers face three challenges: offer a higher level of service, provide it faster, and do it for less. In this never-ending balancing act of quality, speed, and reimbursement rates, it’s easy to lose sight of the why.

Patients exist in the center of healthcare. Without patients, there would be no reason to practice medicine. Keep this in mind with everything you do and every decision you make. Patient satisfaction is the key to success.

However, that success doesn’t just happen during office hours. It extends around-the-clock, seven days a week. But how can you satisfy patients when you’re not in the office seeing them?

This is where a medical answering service comes in. They’re available 24/7 to interact with your patients and callers anytime of the day or night, whenever they happen to call. This might be during dinner, at 3 a.m. or during your commute to the office. It could also be on weekends and holidays.

Though there’s little you can personally do to enhance patient satisfaction outside of regular business hours, you make a smart move when you enlist the aid of a medical answering service. They can help keep patients as a priority and delight them every time they call by having a real person available to talk to them.

Aaron Boatin is president of Ambs Call Center, a virtual receptionist and telephone answering service provider that specializes in serving the healthcare industry.  This article is an excerpt from the post “10 Ways Your Patients Benefit from a Doctors Answering Service.”


Healthcare Call Center News

Technology Solutions for the Home Healthcare Industry: In addition to being a strategic partner with over 160 medical-centric call centers, Pulsar360, Inc. has partnered with MEDsys, provider of web-based home care and private duty care management solutions.

A key component is their electronic visit verification solution, “which is where we come in,” states Michael Dozier, president and CEO of Pulsar360. “Our customized interactive voice response application and highly reliable network integrated with their software provides mobile visit verification, integrated scheduling, payroll, and billing into one platform that is available every hour of every day.”

This customizable solution provides real-time data exchange to manage the check-in and check-out visit confirmation through IVR and GPS technology and the scheduling component. This also provides a security element for the agency and their staff.

Upon arrival at the patient’s home, the caregiver calls a toll-free number to clock-in and enters their MEDsys secure ID number, which automatically clocks them in. When their shift is over they call their toll-free number and enter their MEDsys secure pin. That clocks them out. The caregiver can also add the plan of care into the phone, which Pulsar360 updates in real time.

1Call’s 2018 Leadership and Training Seminar Report: The 1Call Division of Amtelco completed their most successful 1Call Leadership and Training Seminar to date. On September 18–20, 2018, healthcare customers, prospects, and Amtelco staff, gathered at the Park Hotel in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, to help clinics and hospital organizations enhance their enterprise-wide communications.

Customer attendees, representing hospitals from all over the United States, enjoyed presentations given by healthcare call centers who use 1Call’s products, such as Genesis, MergeComm, and miSecureMessages. These customer-led presentations proved beneficial to the healthcare communication and IT professionals in attendance.

Attendees learned how to improve efficiencies, eliminate errors, and enhance the patient experience from peer presentations. They also could speak directly to 1Call’s software development and implementation specialists to discuss how to solve some of their interoperability and communication challenges.


A Thought for Today

Every student needs someone who says, simply, “You mean something. You count.” -Tony Kushner

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The September 2018 Issue



Do You React to Today or Plan for Tomorrow?

How We Handle Each Day Prepares Us for the Next One

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In the medical answering service and call center industry, there’s always more than enough to do to fill each day. Between staffing issues, client or caller crises, and technical problems there’s not enough hours to attend to them all. Given this pressure from the present, how can we ever prepare for the future?

Here are some thoughts about how to handle the workload at your medical call center.

Put Out Fires: The default mode of operation at most answering services and call centers is putting out fires. A problem arises, and we react. Sometimes more than one issue shows up at the same time. Then we triage them and handle the most pressing one first, hoping we can get to the next one before it’s too late. We do this from day to day, week to week, and month to month. It’s all too easy for this management approach to continue year after year. There must be a better way.

Be Strategic: Wouldn’t it be better to control the day instead of letting the day control us? To do this, we need to plan. We must be strategic. This means we schedule our day, our week, and our month. We know what we will do each hour, and we don’t let anything distract us from it.

Seek Balance: Of course, having a rigid plan is idealistic. Though this strategic approach deals with what’s most important, it ignores the unexpected urgent things that are bound to come up. If all we do is prepare for tomorrow, who will take care of today? That’s where balance comes in. We need to balance putting out fires to being strategic, with reacting to being proactive.

To do this, make part of each day strategic and then allow the rest for reacting to the urgent matters that will crop up. This works best by blocking out an hour or two each day where interruptions are not allowed. I prefer first thing in the morning. Spend this time working on projects that will make your call center better. Focus on doing things today that will reduce the fires to put out tomorrow.

This is hard to do it first, but each time we’re successful it brings us one step closer to running our call center better and to do it with less stress. Are you ready to begin?

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


Featured Sponsor: TeamHealth Medical Call Center

TeamHealth Medical Call Center

With twenty-two years of experience and eleven million calls from primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, universities, health plans, and other healthcare organizations, TeamHealth Medical Call Center (THMCC) is a premier provider of medical call center solutions. THMCC serves more than 10,000 physicians, health plans, home health and hospice organizations, and employers.

THMCC is a cost-effective leader in reducing inappropriate or unnecessary utilization of healthcare resources, enhancing risk management, and increasing patient satisfaction, as well as promoting patient acquisition and generating referrals within a healthcare system. Their flexible services meet the unique needs and goals of healthcare systems, making them an invaluable client advisor.

THMCC is passionate about contributing to the success of their clients. They have their finger on the pulse of the changing healthcare industry and are creating and exploring new technologies to make their provider clients’ lives easier, providing analytics and reporting that positively position clients, meeting the consumer demands for service delivery, and bringing greater quality and cost containment to clients and the healthcare industry.

For additional information, visit www.teamhealthcallcenter.com or call 888-203-1118.

TeamHealth Medical Call Center and our other sponsors make Medical Call Center News possible. Please join us in thanking them for their support.


Is It Time to Expand Your Medical Call Center’s Services?

By Traci Haynes

The ever-changing healthcare environment has impacted medical call centers throughout the years. Historically, medical call centers were often a physician and service referral program to assist callers with finding a physician or service near them that offered the type of care or service they requested and during times that were convenient for them. Soon after, medical call centers began offering access to nurses who could assess the level of care needed and provide advice based on the information supplied by the caller.

The scope of service of medical call centers has expanded to include prescription refill lines, pre-admission and post-discharge communication, disease management programs, complex care management, health coaching, satisfaction surveys, and hospital transfers. Some medical call centers are now communicating with individuals via video technology.

Your organization’s strategic plan and corporate vision should guide expanded functionality of the medical call center. The medical call center has the potential to offer innumerable opportunities to improve information flow between patients, healthcare providers, hospital departments, health plans, and organizational decision makers.

Before planning for future expansion or growth, it’s important to review the status of your medical call center’s operating performance to determine operating efficiency, clinical quality, and customer service levels.

Important considerations include:

  • Leadership: Start with strong leadership that possesses the essential job qualifications and the vision to move the medical call center forward in alignment with the organization’s strategic plan and a fluid healthcare environment.
  • Medical Director Participation: Medical oversight is essential to the medical call center and includes reviewing clinical updates of the decision support tools, care plans, medication information, continuous quality improvement, and outcomes, as well as additional oversight based on the scope of service.
  • Performance Standards: Standards should address call management, documentation, communication, and professional development.
  • Staffing Mix: Considerations should include the appropriate mix of clinical and non-clinical support to manage the different types of interactions within a pre-determined timeframe.
  • Policies and Procedures: Written and approved policies and procedures should be updated and known by all staff members.
  • Welfare: Items to address include HIPAA, ergonomics, environmental factors, length of shift, and so on.
  • Security: Cover the physical safety of staff, as well as the security of the call center and systems.

Realization of the medical call center’s potential to support the organization’s goals and to provide optimal service often requires an assessment of current operations to recognize strengths and areas for improvement before implementation of future initiatives.

Traci Haynes, MSN, RN, BA, CEN is the director of clinical services at LVM Systems, Inc.


Healthcare Call Center News

Startel & Professional Teledata Complete HIPAA Assessment: Startel and Professional Teledata successfully completed their Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) assessment. This marks Startel’s fourth and Professional Teledata’s first assessment for HIPAA compliance and reinforces the companies’ commitment to protecting consumer data and privacy. SecurityMetrics performed the third-party compliance assessment.

Following an evaluation of Startel and Professional Teledata’s offices, data centers, and software solutions, SecurityMetrics determined that the companies implemented policies and procedures to fulfill its obligations under HIPAA and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). Both companies received scores of 100 percent.

1Call Hires Brad Swift as a Contract Services Sales Manager: 1Call announced that the company is entering into a contract with Brad Swift to support healthcare organizations and their growing need to quickly have access to the newest 1Call software features.

Brad will help healthcare organizations get up-to-date with current technologies, assist with projects such as acquisitions and department mergers, and help with growth and future development. “Brad had a successful eighteen-year sales career with us in the past, serving our customers in Canada,” said Tom Curtin, president of 1Call. “Our customers will be able to outsource to 1Call to help get work done that they can’t find resources for.”


A Thought for Today

“Normal is the average of deviance.” -Rita Mae Brown

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