A medical call center partnership contributes to organizational efficiency
By Karen Brown
Organizational efficiency is defined as the ability to implement plans using the smallest possible expenditure of resources. It is an important factor in organizational effectiveness and vital to the healthcare industry which continues to experience increasing operating costs and smaller bottom lines.
Medicare expansion and the ACA have contributed to significant increases in patient populations that are expensive to treat and provide minimal financial return. This increase can strain an organization seeking to provide adequate post-discharge care, which can result in costly avoidable readmissions.
As patient loads and associated risks increase and reimbursement decreases, the ability to achieve organizational efficiency becomes more and more challenging. However, providing the highest possible quality patient care at the lowest possible operating expense can be possible with the assistance of a medical call center. By partnering with a call center’s team of registered nurses specially trained in telephone triage, organizations can save a significant amount of time and cost associated with adding staff while reducing the risk of unnecessary readmissions and inappropriate utilization of care.
Telehealth and Related Services Are a Large Part of a Bright Future
It is no secret that telehealth services and telemedicine are becoming increasingly popular due to the financial benefits they provide. Combined with federal policy changes (MACRA and MIPS) that address care planning and risk assessment—significantly effecting reimbursement in the process—telemedicine is poised to drive more revenue from virtual care directly to hospitals and healthcare organizations. And this is just the beginning. According to a recent report from Grand View Research, the telemedicine market is expected to top $113 billion by 2025.
While telehealth currently focuses on a range of primary care services, the rising occurrences of chronic conditions, as well as the increasing demand for self-care and remote monitoring, are significant factors driving telehealth growth. Healthcare organizations that add new primary care options will be able to reduce costs and create new services, while remotely offering existing ones to more of their patient populations.
Partnering with a medical call center provides a healthcare organization with access to established chronic care, self-care, and remote monitoring programs, eliminating significant labor costs. It is vital to find a call center with outbound service offerings that include a variety of chronic care and follow-up, as well as post-discharge call programs, including prescription/medicine reconciliation, self-care plan adherence, and follow-up appointment scheduling.
Patient (and Provider) Satisfaction Equal Quality of Care
In today’s world, people have a multitude of choices when it comes to their care. Because of this, it is vital for healthcare organizations and providers to get every aspect of the patient experience right. Providing the correct medical care is not the only factor contributing to a positive experience. From the initial appointment setting call to the final communication between a patient and provider/organization, every experience contributes to the overall satisfaction and quality of care a patient receives.
One of the largest factors contributing to patient satisfaction is access to care. We live in a 24/7 world, and having access to definitive medical care always is a standard patient expectation. Providing that level of access is challenging and often costly; not providing that level of access leaves patients feeling less empowered and engaged, which in turn can lead to poor experiences and even poorer satisfaction scores. A partnership with a medical call center gives patients access to definitive medical care 24/7/365 at much lower costs.
Another factor contributing to patient satisfaction is the quality of relationship with their caregivers. Patients expect to be engaged in decision involving their care. This includes open communication with nurses and providers involved in that care. If patients do not feel as though their concerns have been heard and taken seriously, they feel less confident in the care they receive, resulting in a negative experience—even if the outcome is positive.
It is not uncommon for providers to become overwhelmed with consistently increasing workloads in a 24/7 environment. This can lead to frustration and burnout, which is often evident in their interactions with patients. Utilizing a medical call center to cover all after-hours calls carves the 24/7 access out of the provider’s core responsibilities.
This is a powerful physician recruitment and retention game changer. In short, happy providers have more positive interactions with their patients, which result in higher patient engagement and satisfaction.
While no healthcare organization wants a patient to have a negative experience for any reason, there is a new factor regarding patient satisfaction that demands attention. Since the inception of value-based purchasing, the definition of a successful patient experience has been redefined. Now, 30 percent of the overall quality of care is attributed to patient satisfaction. This means patient satisfaction survey scores directly impact an organization’s bottom line.
The shift to pay-for-performance also means that reimbursements are tied to the quality of care that is delivered. Hospitals that provide a higher quality of care than their peers will receive reimbursement incentives, and hospitals that provide a lower quality of care will be penalized.
This is perhaps the most beneficial aspect of partnering with a medical call center. Providing positive experiences for both patient and provider can drastically improve overall patient satisfaction and outcomes, leading to a higher overall quality of care and the related financial rewards.
Ultimately, the provision of appropriate, quality care to achieve positive outcomes is the goal of all healthcare organizations. Making that a possibility, while considering organizational needs, government regulations, and patient experience can be difficult and costly. Partnering with a medical call center provides access to high quality care at the lowest cost possible.
The TeamHealth Medical Call Center is the premier provider of medical call center solutions—including telephone nurse triage services. They provide services to more than 10,000 providers, health plans, home health, hospice organizations, employers, and universities across the United States. Karen Brown, RN, is the vice president of business development for the TeamHealth Medical Call Center. She has more than twenty-five years of senior management experience in healthcare.