All posts by Peter Lyle DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (https://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine, AnswerStat, TAS Trader, and Medical Call Center News. Peter DeHaan (https://peterdehaan.com) is a published author and blogger.

Amtelco Simplifies Software Installation & Maintenance for Remote Operators

1Call Web Agent v5.5 solution rated Avaya Compliant

1Call

1Call, a division of Amtelco and a leader in developing software solutions and applications designed for the healthcare communications and call center marketplace, announced its 1Call Web Agent v5.5 solution is compliant with key Avaya OneCloud™ solutions, helping customers easily connect remote operators and minimize maintenance.

1Call Web Agent is a web browser-based telephone agent interface that offers simplified installation and maintenance, especially helpful for remote operators.

1Call Web Agent is compatible with most modern web browsers and enables agents to process multi-channel calls via desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The application is now compliance-tested by Avaya for compatibility with Avaya Aura® Session Manager 8.1 and Avaya Aura Communication Manager 8.1 via SIP Trunk.

“1Call Web Agent provides intelligent attendant console services, integrated call and screen recording, personnel directories populated from an organization’s HR data sources, patient directories populated from Health Level 7 (HL7), admit discharge transfer (ADT) updates, operator scripting, on-call scheduling, and advanced automated messaging and dispatching with our MergeComm integration engine,” said Tom Curtin, CEO of Amtelco and 1Call.

“Technology partners like Amtelco are helping Avaya customers increase their efficiency, productivity, and strengthen their competitiveness,” said Karen Hardy, Global Vice president, Product Management, Avaya. Amtelco is a Technology Partner in the Avaya DevConnect program, part of the Avaya Experience Builders™ network.

This unique global collaborative is exceptionally positioned to deliver the next-gen customer and employee experiences businesses need through the Avaya OneCloud AI-Powered Experience platform. Partners in the DevConnect program develop, market, and sell innovative third-party products that interoperate with Avaya technology and extend the value of a company’s investment in its network.

As a Technology Partner, Amtelco can submit products to Avaya for compliance testing, where a team of DevConnect engineers develops a comprehensive test plan for each application to verify its Avaya compatibility.

This enables customers to confidently add best-in-class capabilities to their network without having to replace their existing infrastructure, helping speed deployment of new applications and reduce both network complexity and implementation costs.

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Amtelco’s 1Call Division is the leader in developing software solutions designed for the specific needs of the healthcare call center marketplace. 1Call features a complete line of modular solutions designed to streamline enterprise-wide communications, save an organization’s limited resources, and promote efficiency, helping bring wellness to their members and their bottom line.

Checklist to Ensure Patient Care Quality in Nurse Telehealth Triage

TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

How do you ensure patient care quality when it comes to nurse telehealth triage? Whether you use an outsourced nurse triage service or want to license software and use your own team, follow this checklist when addressing every patient caller.

Not only do these important items minimize liability with remote care, but they also ensure a high quality of care for patients and a decrease in overall healthcare costs. We’ve seen firsthand how successful these items have been in our own nurse triage call center, which is why we want to share them with you to improve your own patient health outcomes.

Develop Detailed Nurse Triage Training

To be effective at telehealth triage, nurses must remain focused on each patient’s needs, obtain the appropriate information about their symptoms, know how to handle difficult calls, and document all information thoroughly. At TriageLogic, we use a 10-step approach to training nurses, which can be found in our learning center course: “Critical Steps to a Triage Call.” You can also read a related article on training triage nurses.

Broadly speaking, when it comes to triaging patients over the phone, nurses must remember to smile, show empathy, and remain calm and confident while they are addressing patient questions and concerns. They must also use three types of listening—active, reflective, and empathetic—to fully understand each patient’s symptoms and guide them to the appropriate care.

Along with the potential for angry or distressed callers, triage nurses must also know how to handle patients whose symptoms call for emergency services.

Use National, Standardized Protocols

Nurse triage protocols developed by Drs. Schmitt and Thompson are the gold standard for patient care quality. When integrated with nurse triage software, they provide the most intuitive means of establishing caller dispositions by using yes/no questions to determine symptom severity.

A group of independent medical professions review these protocols annually and update them during important health-related events (like the COVID pandemic).

Give Answering Service Operators Their Own Protocols

Answering service operators (ASOs) are the first people to interact with callers on a nurse triage line. Their purpose is to greet patients and ask them about why they’re calling. This helps identify urgent versus non-urgent issues and passes each caller’s request along to the right triage nurse. However, it’s become clear that ASOs also need their own protocols to avoid delays in patient care.

Why?

ASOs don’t always ask detailed questions. For example, if a patient calls for a medication refill, the ASO should verify if the patient has also started to experience any withdrawal symptoms, rather than simply assume the request is non-urgent.

Establish Average Patient Callback Times

When a call comes into an ASO, they will pass those caller requests along as emergent, urgent, or non-urgent. Each of these groups come with different requirements on how soon triage nurses should call them back. A quality nurse triage program should have established time limits. Sticking to these time limits is vital to patient care quality.

For emergent, that’s five minutes or less. Urgent requires fifteen minutes or under. And non-urgent should be within thirty to sixty minutes.

Staggering calls in this manner not only prioritizes patients based on severity, but it also avoids overwhelming your triage line depending on how many nurses you have scheduled.

Record Calls for Quality Assurance

Recording your nurse triage calls is an important part of any quality assurance program. Doing so keeps your nurses accountable and less likely to deviate from using the Schmitt-Thompson protocols.

It also mitigates liability against your nurses. In case of a poor health outcome, these records corroborate the actions a nurse took, the reasons why, and whether those were correct.

Finally, recorded calls provide oversight and identify potential training needs. Evaluating them will indicate whether a nurse is struggling in a particular part of the triage process and allow managers to create opportunities for improvement.

Implement Secure Texting

Secure texting is an HIPAA-compliant option that allows nurses to chat with doctors without having to download an app or additional software. Nurses send messages to doctors’ phones over browser encryption, and doctors are required to click a link to acknowledge each message before accessing patient data.

This ensures patient confidentiality and speeds up responses from doctors depending on the severity of each patient’s symptoms—all of which leads to greater patient care quality. All messages are then documented in the patient’s file for reference.

TriageLogic

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the CTO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2007, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, remote patient monitoring, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive solutions include integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. Contact them if you have questions regarding any of the items from the above checklist or you’d like to discuss how to implement them within your own nurse triage.

Peter DeHaan Releases Healthcare Call Center Book

Peter Lyle DeHaan, founder and publisher of AnswerStat, announced the publication of his latest book, Healthcare Call Center Essentials. It’s scheduled for release on June 6, 2022.

“In a very real sense, this book has been two decades in the making,” said DeHaan, “It started when I launched AnswerStat magazine in 2003. I’ve taken what I’ve learned about medical contact centers since then and combined it with a lifetime of call center experience to produce this book.”

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In addition to writing and publishing magazines and books about the call center industry, DeHaan’s lifetime of experience includes managing a multi-location call center, employment with a call center vendor, and consultant for healthcare call centers, medical answering services, and telephone answering providers.

The result is the book Healthcare Call Center Essentials.

Healthcare Call Center Essentials is designed for those who want to manage a more effective medical contact center. From daily operations to long-term success, this essential guide will help readers create a thriving contact center that meets the urgent needs of both patients and the medical community.

In it, you can discover how to better manage your team and support achievable strategies to meet goals and support patients and healthcare centers. By implementing the strategies and tips in Healthcare Call Center Essentials, you can improve your daily systems and perfect your contact center operation.

Healthcare Call Center Essentials is available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.   Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

Decrease Patient Liability Using Nurse Triage Software

TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

Patient phone calls, and questions about whether symptoms require an office or emergency visit, are part of every busy medical practice. However, how do you train nurses to ensure that they give the appropriate care advice every time, while documenting caller information, symptoms, and dispositions?

If your team wants to decrease liability on these calls, implement software with medical protocols that document all this information. Choose a solution that employs time-tested protocols. This helps ensure each patient caller is directed to the appropriate level of care in an appropriate window of time, regardless of when they call.

Effective triage software is an easy-to-use solution for nurses that includes standardized protocols to address any patient symptom. It also includes thorough documentation with timestamps and the ability to customize triage and care instructions based on the needs of the practice. The information should be integrated with your EMR or able to be simply copied to an EMR file, ensuring continuity of care.

Documentation

When it comes to avoiding liability as a triage nurse or healthcare provider, documentation is everything. Consider the following example of a doctor who took a patient’s call while out of the office. He couldn’t notate his care advice to the patient in their chart. In fact, the only option available to him was to scribble his notes on a napkin.

That patient went on to experience a medical complication, then subsequently sued the doctor by disputing what the actual care instructions were during their call. Thanks to that napkin though, the doctor had proof of what he’d said. Thankfully, nurse triage software is far more thorough.

Standardized Care

Seek a solution with protocols that are easy to follow, are updated regularly as new healthcare issues develop, and can be customized with instructions specifically for your practice.

In turn, this ensures that nurses are prompted with the best questions to ask patients based on the severity of their symptoms and allow those nurses to document their thought processes as they triage each call. With this, all their interactions are recorded and easily accessible for reference.

The results? Nurses can shift their attention to their patients, and patients receive the correct outcomes, no matter which nurses they speak with. Another advantage is that all incoming calls receive the same quality of care or advice regardless of which nurses answer them.

Patient History

Along with symptom severity, effective triage software allows nurses to record relevant patient history so that their dispositions for care are based on all their potential health factors. Nurses must be mindful of addressing callers objectively, avoiding stereotypes, and using their listening skills to evaluate symptoms in their entirety.

Timestamps

Triage software should include timestamps for pivotal moments recorded on nurse calls. These include when calls are received, when they’re returned, and when they’re completed.

Consider that the biggest threat to nurse triage is delayed patient care. As such, it’s critical that your nurses correctly address patients’ symptoms in a timely manner, advise them to seek care from the appropriate medical professionals, and have the documentation to back up their work.

Clear Dispositions

Part of the nurse triage process is providing clear dispositions and follow-up instructions. If a patient’s condition suddenly changes, a nurse’s notes should reflect this change, as well as the triage advice they offered.

When patients are referred to providers, this documentation should also be easy to share with them. If it is, those providers can address those patients immediately and maintain a continuity of care, especially when their patients’ needs are urgent.

If a patient’s health begins to deteriorate, triage software should have instructions for the responding nurse to know how to expedite assistance from a referred provider. This should include a secure texting and chat option that lets nurses contact physicians, update them on the conditions of their patients, and close the loop on care.

Conclusion

Triage software can help ensure patients are directed to the appropriate level of care in an appropriate window of time. This decreases provider liability and improves patient care.

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the CTO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2007, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-lead provider of high-quality telehealth services, remote patient monitoring, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. The TriageLogic group serves over 9,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide.

Contact them to schedule a demo and see how TriageLogic’s MyTriageChecklist solution can benefit your patient callers and their dispositions.

Channel Specialization versus Multichannel Proficiency

Effectively Handle Communication Channels in a Medical Contact Center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

In the last issue of AnswerStat we looked at the need for multichannel integration in your healthcare contact center to better serve patients and produce superior outcomes. We considered this from a systems standpoint. Now let’s look at multichannel from an agent and operational perspective, specifically channel specialization versus multichannel proficiency.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Ideally you want every agent trained and fully proficient to handle communication on any channel option that comes in, be it voice, text, email, video, social media, and so forth. Some agents relish being proficient on all channels, while others prefer to specialize. A contact center needs both types of agents.

Channel Specialization

An agent that specializes in one channel, for instance telephone calls, will develop a higher level of effectiveness by focusing on that one channel. Through repetition they’ll gain an enhanced level of skill through their specialization.

This will enable them to move from one call to another with greater speed and increased efficacy. In short, they’ll get more done faster.

But they must also be cross trained on other channels. There are two reasons for this.

One is in the event of a telephone call that needs to switch channels, such as to move to video or email to better facilitate effective communication. In this instance you don’t want an agent with a telephone channel specialization handing the call off to a video or email specialist. Instead, you want the original agent to move with the patient or caller to the new channel.

The second reason you want agents cross trained is so they can switch to a different channel if there’s a need to do so. This could occur with an increased amount of traffic in a channel different from the one they specialize in. Without this cross training, you could end up with specialists in one channel sitting idle while specialists in another channel struggle to keep up.

Though you have agents that specialize in one channel and mostly work in that area, they must be ready and willing to jump to another channel when the situation requires it.

Multichannel Proficiency

Other agents would find channel specialization to be quite boring. They relish being proficient on many channels, even on every channel your healthcare contact center handles. They enjoy the variety that comes from interacting with patients on various channels.

These multi-channel agents can handle patient contacts on any channel as needed, whenever needed. This allows them to switch between real-time communication (telephone and video calls) depending on the traffic demands at any moment. Yet at the same time they are equally proficient at processing non-real-time communication (email, text, and social media) as required.

This means they can effectively work in the channel where they’re most needed.

Specialists and Generalists

While channel specialization is good for some agents and multichannel proficiency is ideal for others, this mix of channel focus is also essential for your contact center. Just like with healthcare, a contact center needs both specialists and generalists.

The specialists can concentrate on one channel, reaching a level of effectiveness that a generalist could never achieve. Yet a generalist is effective at quickly and easily migrating from one channel to another.

Though every agent in your contact center should be cross trained to handle any channel, determine which area is the best for each agent, channel specialization or multichannel proficiency. You need both.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.   Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

Quality Contact Solutions named Top 10 Healthcare BPO for 2022

Quality Contact Solutions (QCS) shared that they have been recognized among the Top 10 Healthcare BPO Companies 2022 by Healthcare Business Review.

“We are excited to share that Quality Contact Solutions has been named a Top 10 Healthcare BPO for 2022 by Healthcare Business Review, a trusted source by healthcare leaders for information on managing healthcare business and operations,” said Julie Kramme, vice president of sales for QCS.

“With lower costs and increased efficiencies, business process outsourcing (BPO) is the perfect solution for healthcare organizations,” added Kramme. The QCS team can support the various needs of their clients in the nuanced healthcare industry.

Quality Contact Solutions is an industry leader in call center and telemarketing services solutions, including B2B and B2C programs. QCS offers many telemarketing services, including outsourced sales, upselling, cross-selling, surveys, lead generation, sales lead qualification, appointment setting, inside sales, and inbound customer service. 

Vendor Spotlight: Improving Response to Critical Laboratory Results with Secure Messaging

By Nicole Limpert

1Call

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” This is especially true in the healthcare sector. Unfortunately, ineffective diagnostic communication can have dire consequences for patients. It is estimated that there are 40,000–80,000 deaths in the United States each year due to diagnostic error. Poor communication of laboratory test results is a contributing factor in these errors.

Critical laboratory results, also known as panic results or values, are defined as test results that exceed established high or low limits. Abnormal results are different from critical values. “Abnormal” and “critical” are not used interchangeably.

Critical results are considered life threatening and require corrective action to be taken promptly. After the critical laboratory results has been verified and entered into the lab’s computer system, notifications are sent to the patient’s physician and/or physician’s representative, the ordering entity, and any other clinical personnel responsible for the patient’s care.

Critical Results Reporting Standards

According to the “National Patient Safety Goals” set by The Joint Commission, timely reporting of critical results need to be made to the responsible licensed caregiver(s) within an established time frame so that the patient can be promptly treated.

They outline three elements of performance to achieve this goal:

  1. Collaborate with organization leaders to develop written procedures for managing the critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures that address the following:
  • The definition of critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures.
  • By whom and to whom critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures are reported.
  • The acceptable length of time between the availability and reporting of critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures.

2. Implement the procedures for managing the critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures.

3. Evaluate the timeliness of reporting the critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures.

Critical Lab Communication

When a critical lab value is verified, often a phone call is made to report the result and it is documented in the laboratory information system. To comply with patient safety goals, the person taking the call must read back the patient’s name, the hospital number, and all laboratory results. Read back is required to ensure accurate transmission of information.

Historically, verbal communication has been considered the preferred procedure for notifying critical values. However, the need to communicate lab diagnostics quickly and accurately is paramount for lowering the risk of a patient experiencing an adverse medical event.

An article in the National Library of Medicine titled “Critical Laboratory Values Communication: Summary Recommendations from Available Guidelines” finds that “The results of surveys conducted in the UK, Italy, US, China, and Croatia have notably emphasized that there is poor consensus regarding many aspects of critical values management. This is a concerning issue, for not less than three good reasons.

“First, the lack or delayed communication of critical values has been clearly recognized as a source of significant harm to the patients, since these test results may lead to treatment modification in as many as 98 percent of patients admitted to surgical wards and up to 91 percent of those admitted to medical departments.

“Then, critical values communication is an integral part of many accreditation procedures for medical laboratories, including the universally agreed International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

“Finally, timely notification of critical values has been endorsed as one of the leading quality indicators of the post-analytical phase [of laboratory medicine] by the Working Group ‘Laboratory Errors and Patient Safety’ (WG-LEPS) of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC).”

Information technology tools are becoming an essential component of medical lab communication because they provide:

  • Fast and accurate communications
  • Automated systems
  • Reporting
  • Simplified communications
  • HIPAA compliance to protect patient health information

The Traditional Process of Reporting Critical Values

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) offers a laboratory accreditation program. To attain accreditation through the CAP, they require that at least 90 percent of critical values be reported within 30 minutes after obtaining a verified result. A similar requirement is in place through The Joint Commission.

Sometimes it is difficult for organizations to attain or retain accreditation because the traditional process to verify and document notifications (read back) can be time consuming. Typically, institutions will designate categories of personnel who are authorized to receive critical values, usually physicians and nurses.

If the critical laboratory results are communicated to a suitable medical staff member, the name of that person, time of contact, and documentation of read back is recorded. If the result is provided to non-medical personnel, that person is required to notify the correct physician, record the notification, and read back in the patient’s medical record.

If the non-medical personnel are unsuccessful in contacting an appropriate person for transmission, the next step is often to page the provider. Significant delays can result if there are issues with contacting the provider or using precious time to find out who is on-call.

The Benefits of Using a Secure Messaging App

Secure messaging apps can outperform traditional phone calls by improving timeliness when reporting critical laboratory results. When healthcare organizations change their process of reporting critical values by telephone to using a secure messaging app instead, they can meet or exceed the standards put forth by accrediting agencies, experience increased efficiency by immediately getting the results to the right person, see a reduction in the time it takes to report results, and have a reliable record of the communication because messages are automatically time-stamped when sent, received, and read. Built-in reporting features provide accurate information about the communication process.

A secure mobile messaging app also provides:

  • End-to-end message encryption to protect electronic patient health information and ensure all communications are secure and protected
  • Freedom from outdated pagers. Devices can be consolidated through secure messaging apps so that all correspondence can be done from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, smartwatch, or desktop computer
  • Ease of use
  • Customization
  • The ability to send massive amounts of data quickly and accurately while keeping users connected through WiFi and cellular networks
  • Voice-to-text modes so users can speak a message into their device, and it automatically converts into text
  • Persistent alert settings ensure important messages won’t be missed
  • A message log to keep track of messaging histories
  • Interoperability by having the ability to seamlessly integrate with on-call scheduling
  • Safety features such as bio-metric access and remote disabling if a device is lost or stolen

Notification of critical laboratory results is a crucial function of the clinical laboratory. Using technology such as secure messaging, ensures information is received by the correct personnel, quickly and accurately, to help improve patient care.

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Nicole Limpert is the marketing content writer for 1Call. The 1Call Division of Amtelco is a leader in developing software solutions and applications designed for the specific needs of the healthcare call center marketplace. 1Call features a complete line of modular solutions specifically designed to streamline enterprise-wide communications, save an organization’s limited resources, and make them tremendously efficient, helping them bring wellness to their members and their bottom line.

Multi-Channel Integration

Serve Patients Better and Produce Superior Outcomes


By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Some healthcare call centers only handle telephone calls by design and others do it because that’s what they’ve always done. But most have embraced a contact center mindset, where they’re handling more than telephone calls. This can include email, text messaging, and web chat. They may also incorporate social media monitoring and response.

There is also an opportunity with video. Integrating video communications into the call center has received much theoretical attention for a couple of decades, with proponents predicting it would be only a year or two out. We are, at last, moving from potential to possible.

Over the past two years many people have become more comfortable talking to a camera to communicate with someone far away. Though not everyone embraced this as an acceptable alternative to in-person meetings, they did, however, become more comfortable using it and less resistant to the technology.

This prepares people for the option of video chatting with their healthcare provider, nurse triage operation, or medical call center. These are exciting times for patients and their healthcare call centers.

All these options, however, will inevitably lead to patients using multiple communication channels to accomplish their task, depending on what’s available at the time or what will achieve their goal the fastest.

What could start as a telephone call could switch to video for face-to-face interaction. In the same way, a text message chain could migrate to the telephone or a social media post to email. The only limit to the sequences is our creativity.

Yet regardless of the scenario, one key issue remains paramount. Each channel must integrate with all the others, allowing information to effortlessly pass from one option to another. We must eliminate isolated silos of information that don’t communicate with each other. We need full multi-channel integration.

This usually falls to the platform vendor. If you use a singular system to handle all communication channels, you’re one step closer to making multi-channel integration a reality. Though harder, integration between disparate systems can also occur. It just requires more effort on the part of the respective vendors to pull off.

Here’s what you can do to move things forward to enjoy multi-channel integration.

Educate Staff

Make sure your front-line employees know what they must do to allow for the smoothest information handoff as patients move from one channel to another. If your staff doesn’t do their part correctly, the decree of integration won’t matter.

Test Your System

Make a contact on one channel as a patient would. Then switch channels and see what happens. Is your text messaging exchange accessible by the telephone rep when you switch to voice? Or do you need to start over and re-state the same information?

Test this in each combination of channels possible, regardless of how unlikely it seems to you that anyone would ever make that switch. Know that someone will.

Identify Weaknesses

As you conduct your field test of switching channels, look for three things. Identify what works well, what somewhat works, and what doesn’t work at all. Celebrate the areas of success, seek ways to shore up the areas that have limitations, and note what doesn’t work at all.

Encourage Your Vendor

Armed with this information, approach your vendor, not in a confrontational manner, but with a positive, let’s-work-together attitude to move toward full multi-channel integration.

Conclusion

Multi-channel integration is what your patients expect. It’s what they deserve. Start now to move toward this outcome.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

How Effective Communication Helps Organizations Achieve the Quintuple Aim

1Call

By Nicole Limpert

What is the goal of healthcare? An answer such as “good health” may seem like an obvious response, however, sometimes a simple question has a complex answer. For many years, one of the most influential answers to this question was put forth in 2001 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in a report called “Crossing the Quality Chasm.” Their framework included these six goals for any healthcare system:

  • Safe: Avoiding harm to patients from the care that is intended to help them.
  • Effective: Providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit (avoiding under-use and misuse).
  • Patient-centered: Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.
  • Timely: Reducing waits and sometimes harmful delays for both those who receive and those who give care.
  • Efficient: Avoiding waste, including waste of equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.
  • Equitable: Providing care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.

In 2006, two faculty members of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, John Whittington, MD and Tom Nolan, MD, developed the idea of the “triple aim” to define the aims of healthcare. They concluded the social needs outlined by the IOM were only for individuals who needed care. The health of the population was a second component that wasn’t included in the IOM framework.

The Triple Aim consists of three points:

  • Experience of Care: The original IOM list (above).
  • Population Health: Addresses the “why” related to healthcare needs. “Why does a person have a heart attack, break their arm, or experience depression?” This point looks at the causes of why a person experiences an adverse health event, and how to keep everyone in good health.
  • Per Capita Cost: Keep costs down because most individuals, companies, and governments have limited resources and need to spend funds on things other than healthcare.

Additional aspects to the triple aim have been adopted by healthcare organizations to include “improved clinical experience” (the quadruple aim) to combat staff burnout and lower patient satisfaction and health equity (the quintuple aim) as it pertains to policy including systematic incorporation, measurable and transparent reporting, consideration of systemic contributing factors, and reimbursement.

Contact Center Software
and the Quintuple Aim

Most of the previously mentioned goals include a communication component. Effective communication software that works with an organization’s existing technology is a crucial tool to help healthcare systems achieve the quintuple aim.

Removing Barriers to Health Equity

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focuses on improving the healthcare of people who are geographically isolated, and economically or medically vulnerable. Medically under-served populations and areas are designated by HRSA as having too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty, or a high elderly population.

These populations include uninsured individuals, vulnerable populations including the elderly, low-income, ethnic minorities, migrants, and people who received a limited education, and those with poor access to healthcare because of inadequate transportation or a lack of available services.

Technology enables medical contact centers to effectively become an extension of a hospital or clinic’s operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Robust communication software used by hospital centers can securely access a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR), update EMRs with notes, and record calls that need to be used for insurance claims and workman’s compensation. Because everything is documented, detailed reports can be generated for reporting purposes.

Hospital contact centers help to address two of the biggest barriers to healthcare: language and transportation. Medical staff work with an enormously diverse patient population. Understanding a person’s language leads to better healthcare. Multi-lingual contact center operators or confidential over-the-phone interpreting services can be used for access to hundreds of different languages.

Patients with mobility challenges or who live in rural areas can receive some health services via telehealth. Operators can coordinate care, make follow-up calls, schedule visits, contact on-call medical staff, and manage referrals. Contact centers that are staffed by qualified nurses or multidisciplinary teams (such as a resident, pharmacist, and social worker) can make health assessments, give medical advice, mental health counseling, and escalate critical concerns.

Timely, Efficient, Patient-Centered Care for an Improved Clinical Experience

Getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time can improve patient care. The need for efficient, reliable communication is present throughout a patient’s journey. A hospital’s contact center is the hub of communication for an organization’s calls and chats and the same software that is used at the center can also be leveraged within the hospital or clinic to improve clinical communication and workflows.

When a patient is admitted into a hospital, they may be moved from one room to another while waiting for tests and procedures, and during recovery. It can become difficult to locate and communicate with a patient once they are receiving care within the system.

A robust contact center platform can assign a fixed phone number to each patient to follow the patient for the duration of their stay. Associating each patient with one phone number helps ease the stress of family and friends who are trying to contact them, streamline the communication process for anyone on the patient’s care team, and reduce the number of calls to the hospital’s contact center.

Contact center software can work together with a hospital’s event notification software system to expedite enterprise-wide critical alerts in healthcare environments by capturing requests from ADT (admission, discharge, and transfer) messages, nurse call messages, smart beds, pain management, alerts, alarms, orders, or appointments. Then, emergency notification software instantly sends those messages to designated medical staff recipients using a wide variety of methods, including Vocera badges, IP phones from Cisco and Spectralink, SMS, email, secure messaging apps, and more.

All statistics can also be accumulated for each notification to provide an easy-to-follow audit trail for reporting purposes and to help healthcare organizations refine their communication processes.

Enhancing Patient and Staff Safety with Web-based Communication

The ability to access health information at any time from any place is a fundamental and critical part of any healthcare organization’s communication protocol. Hospital personnel can use some of the same web-based communication software that is used in their call center to deliver fast, secure communications.

  • Secure Messaging: Secure organizational communication is crucial for protecting patients, medical staff, and hospital organizations. HIPAA-compliant messaging apps send secure text, photo, audio, and video content while protecting patient privacy. These apps can be used via smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Secure messaging apps can be leveraged to simplify collaborative care to provide a better patient experience, and speed the process of patient admissions, lab results, and patient transport.

    An additional benefit of secure messaging is the ability to triage low-priority alerts and route alarms directly to clinician devices to reduce sensory overload for both patients and care providers. Patient care is improved when important alarms get a response as quickly as possible, but a restful, quiet healing environment is also important for patient recovery.
  • Care Team Collaboration: Nurses, physicians, and other staff use mobile-friendly care team collaboration applications to remotely access on-call schedules, directories, messages, and reports.
  • Workforce Management: Staff can view, edit, copy, override, assign, and unassign schedules in real-time. They can use directories to quickly find and contact staff and use the reporting function to track, view, and print communications.

Correcting inefficient communication can help an organization towards their triple, quadruple, or even quintuple aim. Using the tools and software that may already be available in a hospital’s contact center provides a path to successfully attain the goals of the entire enterprise.

Nicole Limpert is the marketing content writer for 1Call. The 1Call Division of Amtelco is a leader in developing software solutions and applications designed for the specific needs of the healthcare call center marketplace. 1Call features a complete line of modular solutions specifically designed to streamline enterprise-wide communications, save an organization’s limited resources, and make them tremendously efficient, helping them bring wellness to their members and their bottom line.

Wisconsin State Journal Names Amtelco Top Workplace in 2022

1Call, a division of Amtelco, announced that Amtelco has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2022 honor by The Wisconsin State Journal Top Workplaces. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage, LLC.

The anonymous survey uniquely measures fifteen culture drivers that are critical to the success of any organization: including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

“Companies need to authentically represent their brand to job-seekers,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “The employee experience needs to be on the mission-critical list. Leaders who embrace a people-first culture will benefit greatly. By giving employees a voice and showcasing your authentic culture through employer branding, organizations can attract those job seekers who complement their culture. Culture drives performance.”

Amtelco, a family-owned business located in McFarland, Wisconsin, has been a trusted name in call center systems, software applications, and secure texting technologies for over forty-five years. Beginning in 1997, the 1Call healthcare division of Amtelco was formed to provide the same innovative contact center technology to healthcare facilities.

Founder Bill Curtin, II, and Amtelco have received more than thirty U.S. Patents for telephony software, data handling methodologies, and telephone switching devices. Millions of calls are processed every day by Amtelco systems around the world.

Mr. Curtin’s ingenuity and generous spirit are reflected throughout the company. Amtelco has earned industry praise with its award-winning products and proudly supports local and international charities.

Both employees and customers are treated with respect. Kathy Mealer, Manager Information Systems at West Tennessee Healthcare, and a customer of Amtelco’s 1Call healthcare division states, “1Call has been fantastic. I think they have been more of a business partner than any vendor I’ve dealt with in my thirty plus years of working in IT.”

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Advances in technology is helping the contact center industry to grow and continue to be the hub of information. Amtelco CEO Tom Curtin is proud of the entire Amtelco employee team. He stated, “Thanks to our dedicated employees, 2021 ended as the best year we have ever had in our forty-five plus years. Last year we added many new positions to our growing staff and are currently hiring for more positions this year to support our expanding customer base.”