About Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of AnswerStat as well as Connections Magazine, TAS Trader, Medical Call Center News, and Article Weekly.

Why is Your Contact Center Essential to Your Organization?

Echo Access provider directoryBy Richard Stier

You are your health network’s senior leader for access with direct responsibility for the contact center. This morning your CEO asked you a question that has dominated your thoughts. “We’re taking a hard look at the budget,” she said. “The contact center represents a significant line item. Can you help me understand if, or why, the call center is vital to us? Why should it remain in our budget?”

How would you respond? Three key criteria provide the foundation for your effective reply.

Criteria 1: Structure the Framework: Align your contact center’s priorities with C-suite imperatives.

You have an ongoing conversation with your vice president about the organization’s driving priorities, and you’ve focused your contact center to support three of them:

  1. Reduce avoidable readmissions to eliminate a recent fine from CMS,
  2. Improve CAHPS scores for patient satisfaction to improve reimbursement, and
  3. Fill practices of newly employed physicians to accelerate the revenue cycle.

Because reducing preventable readmissions is an organization-wide priority, you’ve made it a contact center priority. At discharge, a contact center ambassador asks patients for permission to contact them and their caregivers when coordinating follow-up appointments. Your contact center receives discharge reports every morning from each member hospital. The ambassador calls, emails, or texts the discharged patient and the authorized caregivers to coordinate a day and time for the follow-up physician appointment.

After the scheduled day and time, a contact center ambassador calls the physician office to see if the patient kept the appointment. If the appointment was not kept, they reconnect with the patient or the patient’s approved caregiver to reschedule.

The results have been substantial. The readmission rate declined from 25 percent to 15 percent, and a fine from CMS was reduced by two million dollars over the past two years. Kept appointment rates for post-discharge physician visits have climbed to over 85 percent.

You’ve used tools in your contact center software to document and improve first experience satisfaction scores, and your overall CAHPS scores have been steadily rising. And, you have documented the stream of patients for whom the contact center has made appointments with newly employed physicians at eight practices.Your healthcare contact center is the virtual front door for personalized support and referrals. Click To Tweet

Criteria 2: Place the Rebar: Hardwire your contact center to strengthen your organization’s patient experience (PX) advantage.

You’ve shared with internal colleagues that healthcare currently has a 29 percent patient experience failure rate (per research by Hospital Compare). Only 71 percent of inpatient patients report they received the “best possible care.”

You’ve challenged your peers to ask, “In what universe is a 29 percent failure rate acceptable? Could we miss our revenue projections by 29 percent? Be over budget by 29 percent? Could we even conceive of missing our quality metrics by 29 percent—we only drop 29 percent of newborns, so we meet the standard?” Seriously.

You’ve communicated your belief that “best possible care” experiences begin before a patient receives care and continues after the patient returns home. You explained that your contact center is uniquely positioned to serve as the virtual front door for personalized support and referrals—whether on the website or on the phone—before using a clinical service and for individualized follow-up and coaching after discharge.

You’ve taken several actions to strengthen patient experience advantage:

  • You now include patient ratings and comments in your online provider directory. This key information for prospective patients increases the probability of a good match with one of your providers. Better alignment between patients and providers results in higher patient satisfaction.
  • Your contact center conducts pre-CAHPS patient satisfaction surveys to identify areas for improvement before the CAHPS surveys are conducted. The contact center leverages relationships with callers as a conduit of opportunity to improve CAHPS scores across the enterprise.
  • You place contact center ambassadors in your emergency department to capture patients without a primary care physician. This has resulted in less congestion in the ER, patients being re-directed to more appropriate sites or levels of care, and incremental patients being referred to in-network providers.
  • You have a pre-admission patient hotline where contact center ambassadors work with patients to keep them in-network, secure financial clearance, and arrange for a deposit prior to their visit. Ambassadors add value by providing patients with information about directions, location, and parking.
  • You shift your team culture to celebrate “phone hugs,” redirecting the focus from processing transactions to building relationships with patients through empathic conversations.
  • You launch digital patient experience journey mapping to document experiences from patients’ perspectives starting with the first online or phone contact to handoff of care to post-discharge connections.
  • You recognize the maturation of contact centers to require super agents whom you call “senior ambassadors.” They serve as indispensable personal coaches. They have a proven ability to calm difficult callers and help them with their most challenging situations. For example, they may coordinate pre-visit scheduling for multiple tests that need to be completed before the patient has their physician appointment.
  • You’ve integrated your contact center’s provider data into a single master provider database as a source of truth. The benefits include a comprehensive and more accurate database, reduced data errors, greater data security, increased provider satisfaction, and an improved caller experience.
  • You took two important steps to strengthen your organization’s patient experience advantage:
  1. You recognize your contact center’s role to deliver differentiating, memorable first experiences. In collaboration with your chief patient experience officer, you pulled together a team of first touchpoint and access leaders to multiply your impact.
  2. Your first touchpoint team understands the first three seconds of that initial interaction influences hospital selection and preference (SHSMD 2012). The team identified a shared metric for targeted improvement: first experience satisfaction score. You regularly monitor this and have ongoing first touchpoint team challenges across several departments to improve it. Your first experience satisfaction score has moved from 58 percent two years ago, when you implemented this initiative, to 84 percent last quarter. Future metrics considered by your first touchpoint team are: improved CAHPS scores and improved patient satisfaction with specific handoffs of care targeted for improvement.

Criteria 3: Pour the Concrete: Confirm your contact center as an investment, not an expense.

Expenses are cut. Investments are funded. You understand that if your contact center is perceived as an expense, you must be prepared for tough questions.

You’ve collaborated with your CFO to develop and publish a quarterly one-page contact center executive dashboard report for your leadership team. The metrics in this report are reviewed with your CFO annually and revised as needed.

Your contact center executive dashboard report includes three columns:

1. Executive Briefing on Strategic Priorities: The left column includes a bulleted list of metrics aligned to support Criteria 1 priorities.

In this case, you’ve provided a list of indicators under heading “Reduce avoidable readmissions.” Those indicators include: baseline, target, and current readmission rate; baseline, target, and current kept appointment rate; and baseline, target, and current percentage of PCPs with patient follow-up appointments within seven days of discharge.

The next indicator in the “Executive Briefing on Strategic Priorities” column is improve CAHPS scores. Your indicators are baseline, target, and current score for first contact satisfaction, and the number of pre-CAHPS patient satisfaction surveys completed by the contact center.

The third indicator is “Fill practices of newly employed physicians.” Indicators are baseline, target, and current number of referrals and appointments made to employed physician practices and the baseline, target, and current number of referrals and appointments made to all participating physicians for this quarter.

2. Strengthen PX Advantage: The center column includes metrics aligned with Criteria 2 priorities. Your indicators include: number of click throughs on patient ratings and comments in the online provider directory; number of unattached ER patients referred to in-network PCPs; number of patients served this quarter with the pre-admission patient hotline; and baseline, target and current patient satisfaction with handoffs of care from the contact center to employed practices.

3. Contact Center Investment Summary: The right column metrics support the priorities in Criteria 3. Indicators include a bulleted list of metrics after contact center interactions and clinical triage such as inpatient admissions, outpatient visits, ER visits redirected, total physician referrals, total physician appointments, incremental gross revenue, estimated net contribution (supported with attached detail), and estimated ROI.

When you meet with the executive team, you have three additional categories of metrics available to discuss, in anticipation of questions.

  1. The first is priority service line measures with indicators for each clinical center of excellence such as referrals resulting in inpatient admissions and referrals resulting in outpatient visits.
  2. You have also identified metrics for integrated access centers such as number of switchboard calls, call length, total handle time, abandonment rate, caller satisfaction, appointments scheduled by clinical service and practice, number of transfer center transactions, number of physician-to-physician consults, and gross revenue from physician-to-physician consults.
  3. Finally, you are prepared to update the group on contact center operation indicators such as total website conversions, total appointments scheduled, kept appointment rate, average seconds to service, and call abandonment rate.

Your reply: As you mind concludes this mental review, you take a breath and hear yourself respond to your CEO’s question with confidence.

“I believe our contact center is essential to our ability to achieve our strategic imperatives. We intentionally support our priorities to reduce avoidable readmissions, improve our CAHPS scores, and fill the practices of employed physicians. Our contact center strengthens patient experiences as our competitive advantage, beginning at the important first point of contact—whether online or on the phone.

“Importantly, our contact center delivers a tangible return. Our Executive Dashboard Report documents an ROI of three to one. That is, we get three dollars returned for each dollar invested. In summary, our contact center delivers a solid ROI while improving patient satisfaction.”

As your organization’s leader for access, you made the shift from managing transactions to delivering transformative experiences. The contact center team you lead builds competitive advantage by ensuring extraordinary patient experiences at the critical first touchpoint and beyond. Your contact center is vital to your organization’s mission-critical priorities.

Echo, a Healthstream CompanyRichard D. Stier is vice president marketing at Echo, A HealthStream Company. He is a results-proven proponent of delivering transformative patient experiences. Echo, a HealthStream® Company, delivers enterprise-class, innovative solutions to optimize patient experience contact centers. Echo’s solution for hospital-based contact centers, EchoAccess, enables your organization to deliver intentionally memorable experiences that mitigate risk, solidify loyalty, and reduce unnecessary readmissions.

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The April/May 2017 Issue of AnswerStat

Read the April.May issue of the new AnswerStat, the information hub for healthcare contact centers.



Feature Content:

Medical Apps and their “Application” in the Clinical Contact or Monitoring Center, by Traci Haynes , MSN, RN, BA, CEN
Mobile technology is growing exponentially. Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t information on a new medical app for mobile devices. Clinicians use them in their practice to increase efficiency in providing patient care and to effectively explain information to their patients.  read more >>

Vital Signs: Healthcare Uncertainty and Optimism, by Peter L DeHaan, PhD
The healthcare industry in the United States exists in uncertain times. What does the future hold? Will the status quo prevail, along with its current problems, trending issues, and looming concerns? Or will we experience…   read more >>

Vendor Spotlight: TriageLogic Expands Telehealth’s Reach to Help Your Employees
TriageLogic believes no one should delay care because physicians are unavailable or the ER is too expensive. Earlier this year, TriageLogic launched a new product, Continuwell, to provide telehealth services to a wider market.   read more >>

Guest Editorial: Do Mobile Apps Belong in Telephone Triage? by Mark Dwyer
I see a number of scenarios where having access to a mobile app or other software-based solution offers a real benefit to the consumer and a natural tie-in to today’s nurse triage call center. Look at a few functions commonly used today in telephone triage call centers to which…   read more >>

Mobile Apps and Telehealth: Another Channel for Reaching Your Audience, by Sue Altman-Riffel
Healthcare contact centers have acted as the communication and wayfinding hub between their sponsoring organizations and the audiences they serve. In the 1980s there was just one channel for quick communication: the telephone. Things have changed much since then.  read more >>

Medical Call Centers Are Here to Stay, by Gina Tabone, MSN, RNC-TNP
Changes to the American political scene are upon us and most certainly will have an impact on the provision of healthcare. Regardless of party affiliation, there are several healthcare reform objectives that need to remain in the forefront by future government leaders.  read more >>

A Day in the Life of an Offshore Medical Coder, by Dr. Liza Alcances, MD
The life of medical coders is different from clinicians. Weekends are usually free, the shifts are fixed, and there are not a lot of different activities that fill their days. Coders may miss the exciting work of hospital duty, but there is…   read more >>

Ten years ago: Better Call Center Continuity via Home-Based Professionals, by Mary Naylor
Most healthcare call centers have comprehensive continuity and disaster recovery plans to remain operational during unavoidable disruptions, some of which could last beyond the normal lapses traditionally anticipated…  read more >>

Industry News:

LVM Systems Ameridial

Call4Health TriageLogic

1Call Echo

Startel Professional Teledata

TeamHealth Medical Call Center Ambs Call Center

AAACN Citra Health Solutions

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About AnswerStat
AnswerStat is the information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources, published specifically for hospital and medical contact centers and distributed free to qualified readers, decision makers, and influencers at hospitals and healthcare contact centers worldwide.

For more information, contact Peter DeHaan via email or call 616-284-1305.

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TriageLogic CEO Honored at Enterprising Women of the Year

TriageLogicTriageLogic CEO, Charu Raheja, PhD, was honored at the Enterprising Women of the Year Awards. The Enterprising Women of the Year Awards is a prestigious recognition program for women business owners.

To win this award, Dr. Raheja demonstrated she has a fast-growth business, actively supports other women and girls involved in entrepreneurship, and stands out as a leader in her community. She exhibits each of these qualifiers in the success of TriageLogic and the launch of Continuwell, as well as her work with Community Health Charities and various charitable commitments and donations in her community.

Dr. Raheja was recognized April 2 at the 15th Annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration & Conference. Enterprising Women is the nation’s only women-owned magazine published exclusively for women business owners that chronicles the growing political, economic, and social influence and power of entrepreneurial women.

“The recipients of the 2017 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards represent an amazing group of women entrepreneurs from across the United States and as far away as The Netherlands, South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Canada,” said Monica Smiley, publisher and CEO of Enterprising Women. “We could not be more proud to recognize their accomplishments as CEOs of fast-growth companies, community leaders, and role models and mentors to other women and girls. We look forward to shining the spotlight on them at our fifteenth annual awards event in April.”

TriageLogic was also recently certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise and a Women Owned Small Business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of the businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S.

“We are excited to have TriageLogic recognized for its diversity and look forward to many new partnerships to help triage patients and ensure appropriate care for their symptoms,” said Dr. Raheja. “Now that TriageLogic is WBENC certified, we have the ability to compete for business opportunities provided by WBENC Corporate Members and government agencies looking to increase the diversity of their vendors.”

Visit www.triagelogic.com for more information.

 

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A Day in the Life of an Offshore Medical Coder



By Dr. Liza Alcances, MD

The life of medical coders is completely different from the life of clinicians. Weekends are usually free, the shifts are fixed, and there are not a lot of different activities that fill their days. Coders may miss the exciting work of hospital duty, unique patient complaints, and endless rounds, but there is something to be said about an organized and sedate work life.

An Early Start: Most medical coders work days. A few companies require their coders to work nights, parallel to their US counterparts. Day shifts start as early as 7 a.m. This means that coders have to wake up early, allow for adequate travel time, and get to their offices on time. The dress code is usually business casual, so dressing for work depends on the coder’s fashion sense.

Life on the Production Floor: Each coder works on a computer, either a desktop or a laptop. Most will have the codes already in the software, removing the need for using hard copies of the manuals. Depending on the project, coders can be assigned cases directly from the system they’re using or assigned charts by their supervisor or team leaders. Quotas are set depending on the type of coding they do.

Generally, outpatient coders work on more patient charts, and inpatient coders work on a lesser number of charts. They are not allowed to pick the charts to work on, and so they gain experience working on a wide variety of cases. They must also finish the work assigned to them or meet the required quota, so the coders must stay focused and manage their time. Since they work on protected health information (PHI) and must meet US privacy standards, mobile phones are not allowed on the production floor.

Breaks and Lunch: Two short breaks are given, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Coders may use the time to take snacks, smoke, have a power nap, or go to the break rooms or to the pantry. Many companies provide indoor entertainment devices, like game consoles, table tennis, foosball, and the like. Some have quiet rooms, meant for sleeping.

Lunch breaks are longer. Most would have their own canteen, and many companies are situated in areas near commercial establishments. Coders won’t go hungry, and usually have enough time to get some coffee or dessert after lunch.

Home Sweet Home: Since coders start their day early, they also end the workday early. Most are usually off by 4 p.m., leaving them ample time to spend with their family or indulge in other activities. Of course since they have to go back to work early the next day, they also go to sleep early.

Other Activities: Audits and team meetings are common occurrences. These are done with their superiors and sometimes with their US counterparts. The quality of their work must be top-notch, and companies require at least about 95 percent accuracy in their coding.

Companies usually hold town hall meetings quarterly. They also schedule team building sessions, family day, sports fests, and other activities that allow coders to release stress. Some companies sponsor seminars and appoint management trainees so that coders will have additional skills that they can use to better themselves and to help the company.Medical coding is a specialized occupation, requiring specific knowledge and analytical skills. Click To Tweet

In Summary: The life of a medical coder isn’t something the entire healthcare community is aware of. Medical coding is a specialized occupation, requiring specific knowledge and high analytical skills. There are many challenges but also many opportunities. Some might think that the coder has a boring desk job, but as one of the occupations highly desired in the healthcare BPO, it can also get exciting.

Dr. Liza Alcances MD, RN, CPC, CPC-I, CIC, is the assistant manager, training—healthcare at TeleDevelopment Services.

Medical Call Centers Are Here to Stay


TeamHealth Medical Call Center


Patient Care is Non-Negotiable, and Contacts Centers Can Play a Key Role

By Gina Tabone, MSN, RNC-TNP

Changes to the American political scene are upon us and most certainly will have an impact on the provision of healthcare. Regardless of party affiliation, there are several healthcare reform objectives that need to remain in the forefront by future government leaders. Examples include enhancing quality of care, interdisciplinary coordination and collaboration, better utilization of available resources, gaining efficiencies, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

Focusing on these concepts will contribute to the goal of improved outcomes for both individuals and overall patient populations we serve. The benefits achieved must continue regardless of who is leading the country. Nurse triage as a component of an integrated medical call center is a pivotal intervention and no longer optional.

The world of medical call centers (MCCs) has finally gained the recognition and credibility in the healthcare marketplace that many of us have been trying to expound for two decades. Centralized medical call centers are rapidly emerging as the backbone of health systems because they are integral in achieving better patient outcomes.

The new administration has wisely sought healthcare advice from the most innovative physician leaders in America. Toby Cosgrove of Cleveland Clinic and John Noteworthy of the Mayo Clinic were invited to meet with President Trump to share their thoughts on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and suggest ideas to plot the best plans for the future.

Concerns were expressed that the current model needs to focus more on patient health and wellness and less on the avalanche of paperwork. This has negatively affected the day-to-day responsibilities of clinicians who are held accountable for reporting on hundreds of quality indicators. These points of contention are agreed upon by most caregivers. Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic have improved patient access, outcomes, and satisfaction by integrating state of the art integrated call centers with clinical access across their multi-state enterprises.

Hopefully, their example will resonate and continue to motivate other organizations to rapidly integrate outsourced or optimized in-house MCCs as a proven solution for reaching the three goals of the triple aim: improving the patient experience of care, improving population health, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

Improving patient experience of care requires open access channels to care. Access means that patients are able to receive the most appropriate level of care needed, in a time best determined by specially trained nurses guided by evidence-based tools. The patient learns to expect reliable advice, taking into account their current health state and is consistently available day or night. Gaps in care are eliminated and delays are avoided, leading to favorable patient outcomes and higher reimbursements in a fee-for-value model. When patients’ well-being is enhanced, everyone gains—most especially the patients. MCCs can stake a claim for making that happen.

The year 2017 will have many organizations taking a close look at their operations and making tough choices about what functions are best accomplished internally and which ones can be entrusted to an outside partner. IT is a department that is being outsourced by some of the largest hospital systems in the country. Patient financial services is another service with options for outsourcing where the benefits to an organization outweigh the costs incurred. Incentives for meeting targets are common. Last, there is a surge by strategic decision makers to explore nurse triage services being performed by an outside call center partner.

The common denominator in all three areas where outsourcing is increasing is the fact that there is a reliance on human capital and all of the contingency costs that goes along with being an employer. High labor costs often consume up to 70 percent of many call centers’ operating budgets. Outside partners can assume the responsibilities with greater efficiency and better outcomes for a lower cost. There is also the possibility that many vendors are willing to assume some of the risks associated with the successful attainment of goals.

The choice to retain, outsource, or develop a hybrid of both is a multifaceted decision that is reserved for leaders at a higher level than the call center. Organizations have to thoroughly evaluate the options to determine which one best aligns with their mission, vision for the future, and strategic plans.

MCCs are branching out and taking on a variety of responsibilities that are well suited to be conducted remotely and reliant of state of the art technology and a dedicated work force. Once the technological infrastructure is created, the MCC can be enhanced to take on additional functions. Appointment scheduling is the most common task of many MCCs and often happens in tandem with the strategy of centralization. Electronic medical records (EMR) products have customized templates embedded with providers’ schedules that are used for office visits, imaging, or procedural appointments. Outbound calling campaigns are often conducted in conjunction with scheduling for appointment reminders.Without measurement there is no possibility for improvement. Click To Tweet

Centralizing all medication refill requests is emerging as a successful addition to many MCCs. Call center technology such as CRM (customer relationship management) allows for requests to be tracked, acted upon, and measured to ensure established targets are met in a timely manner. Without measurement there is no possibility for improvement. Patients can expect a standard process for medication needs and a defined time for responses or resolution. Medication management and compliance is critical for optimal outcomes, so implementing a process that fosters it is a good idea. Patients stratified as high risk garner the most advantages, which contribute to maximum reimbursements for medical treatments.

MCCs have taken on the significant task of not only caring for the acute needs of primary care patients, but the chronic needs of vulnerable high risk patients as well. Successful coordinating and transitioning of care is central to every health system’s strategy for sustainability today and growth tomorrow. Nurses are the clinicians assigned to figure out how to morph from case management to transitional care coordinators.

Regular communication between the patient and the caregiver is vital and is often by telephone, text, or email. Training the newly created care/transitional nurses in the fundamentals of remote patient care is imperative and is based on the standards of care for telephone triage nurses. The practice of triaging the acute symptoms has branched out and will serve as the starting point for nurses involved in coordinating care.

It is up to those of us established in the medical call center industry to continue to proclaim the unlimited value of a MCC to the healthcare industry. In many healthcare organizations more than 10 percent of employees spend the majority of their day doing their job on the telephone. The benefits of centralizing and consolidating the work they do are undeniable.

C-suite leaders must accept the fact that medical call centers are no longer considered an expense but an investment with impactful ROI (return on investment).

Initially there were call centers, then access centers, followed by contact centers, and in 2017 we are engagement centers. The task at hand is to capture the limited attention of decision makers and educate them on the role MCCs play in a fee-for-value system and the distinct results that are possible. The future may be uncertain, but there remains a need for products, services, and expertise that bring the call center to the forefront of patient care.

TeamHealth Medical Call CenterGina Tabone, MSN, RNC-TNP, is the vice president of strategic clinical solutions at TeamHealth medical call center. Prior to joining TeamHealth, she served as the administrator of Cleveland Clinic’s Nurse on Call 24/7 nurse triage program.

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The February/March 2017 Issue of AnswerStat

Read the February/March issue of the new AnswerStat, the information hub for healthcare contact centers.



Feature Content:

Selecting a Nurse Triage Consultant, by Gina Tabone, MSN
Healthcare reform has placed pressure on organizations to provide access to clinical care in a manner that improves patient outcomes while appropriately utilizing resources. Nurse triage, a proven mechanism for achieving these goals, can be made even better with the help of a nurse triage consultant. >>> read more

Should You Use an On-Site System or Internet-Delivered Solution? by Peter L DeHaan, PhD
We understand a computer room full of equipment. It’s tangible. Contrast this to internet-delivered solutions, which go by a myriad of names. Neither approach is universally right. Both have advantages; both have disadvantages.  >>> read more

Spotlight on LVM Systems
LVM Systems, one of the industry’s largest providers of hospital-based healthcare call center solutions, celebrated another successful year in 2016. This marked its twenty-ninth consecutive year of annual profitability since its founding in 1988.   >>> read more

10 Critical Steps of Taking a Triage Call, by Marci Lawing, RN BSN
The goal of every triage call is to make a patient feel comfortable and heard, while at the same time collect the critical information from the patient and get them to the appropriate level of care based on their symptoms. Step 1…   >>> read more

Ten years ago: Pairing Nurse Triage with Medical Answering Service, by Ken Bleakley
Meeting the needs of both physician and patien requires the deployment of two different skill sets: medical answering service and registered nurse triage.  >>> read more

Industry News:

LVM Systems Ameridial

Call4Health TriageLogic

1Call Echo

Startel Professional Teledata

TeamHealth Medical Call Center Ambs Call Center

AAACN Citra Health Solutions

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About AnswerStat
AnswerStat is the information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources, published specifically for hospital and medical contact centers and distributed free to qualified readers, decision makers, and influencers at hospitals and healthcare contact centers worldwide.

For more information, contact Peter DeHaan via email or call 616-284-1305.

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MiSecureMessages Celebrates 6 Years of Secure Texting with v6.5

1Call, a division of AmtelcoThe 1Call Division of Amtelco announced that miSecureMessages is celebrating six years of secure texting and messaging. Since being introduced in February 2011, miSecureMessages has continued to be vital to maintaining protected health information (PHI), ensuring healthcare organizations meet HIPAA and HITECH regulations.

In addition, the new miSecureMessages Server version 6.5 introduces a number of new features, including:

  • Performance improvements to increase app and server speed
  • Easier registration for users, helping them start sending secure messages sooner
  • Enhanced administrative permission options, reducing the labor required to manage miSecureMessages
  • Additional canned response options for groups or departments
  • Added reports for system administrators
  • Adjustable time zone for reporting
  • Custom app menu links

Amtelco president Tom Curtin said, “MiSecureMessages was a unique product when it was first introduced, and has grown exponentially since that time. We are continuing to add more and more healthcare organizations to our list of miSecureMessages users, helping them ensure HIPAA compliance.”

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

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1Call Announces Presentation Schedule for HIMSS17

1Call, a division of AmtelcoThe 1Call Division of Amtelco announced their schedule for presentations in HIMSS booth #6453. The presentation, titled “Solving Your Communications Challenges with 1Call Solutions” will be held:

  • Monday, February 20 at 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 21 at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 22 at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.

Presentations will be given by Mike Friedel, 1Call senior vice president of sales. Friedel commented, “After talking to a number of 1Call customers and prospects, we are proud to showcase how 1Call can help organizations become more efficient and provide better patient care.”

In addition to HIMSS booth #6453, 1Call will also be in HIMSS booth #888, where miSecureMessages will be featured.

HIMSS attendees who are unable to attend a presentation are invited to contact 1Call for a personal demo of 1Call solutions.

For more information, contact 1Call: 800-225-6035, www.1call.com/himss17, or info@1call.com.

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Should You Use an On-Site System or Internet-Delivered Solution?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStatWe understand a computer room full of equipment. It’s tangible. We can see it, touch it, and kick it (but don’t do that). It’s how we’ve done things for decades, since the beginning of computers and telephony switches.

Contrast this to internet-delivered solutions, which go by a myriad of names, such as SaaS (software as a service), cloud-based solutions, hosted services, and a few more labels that have come and gone. The oldest I can remember is provided by ASPs (application service providers), but I haven’t heard that in years. For the sake of discussion, let’s call all variations of this offsite provisioning concept as internet-delivered solutions.

An on-site system allows for greater control. But with control comes responsibility: maintenance, database backups, software updates, spare parts inventory, disaster recovery, backup power, and technical staff. Financially, an on-site system (hardware and software) represents a tangible asset, which is a capitalized purchase and a depreciated line item on your balance sheet.

While there are usually some ongoing costs for an on-site system, these are minor in comparison to the onetime purchase price. An on-site system doesn’t require internet access to operate, but with the increased need to access information and remote systems through the internet, this advantage is rapidly diminishing.

Although vendor stability is a concern for both options, with on-site systems, there is at least the potential for the call center to continue operating if the vendor fails; this is not so with the alternative.

Internet delivered solutions represent a newer way of provisioning a call center. With it the responsibility to install, maintain, and update equipment is removed, but along with it goes the associated control. Financially, an internet-delivered solution is a service, which shows up on the income statement as an expense. It is not a capital expenditure and there is nothing to depreciate. The only costs are a predictable, ongoing monthly expense, which is generally proportionate to usage.Cloud-based solutions offer the flexibility to quickly ramp up and ramp down capacity as needed. Click To Tweet

Internet delivered solutions also offer the flexibility to quickly ramp up and ramp down capacity as needed. Operations may be deployed anywhere in the world where there is reliable internet access, easily accommodating remote agents.

However, there are two chief concerns with cloud-based solutions. One is the requirement of a stable internet connection for the call center or remote agents. Without internet access, the call center is effectively down. The other concern is with the vendor. Do they provide always-on, fully redundant, carrier-grade stability, with 24/7 tech support? Are they financially viable to offer cloud-based service for the long-term? If they stumble or fail, the call center immediately suffers the same fate.

For much of the call center industry’s history, on-site systems was the only option. Some call centers continue to pursue this approach, not because they’ve examined the alternative, but because that’s how it’s always been; they see no point in changing. This is shortsighted. Equally unwise are call centers that race headlong into internet-delivered solutions, wanting merely to follow the current trend. They dismiss the alternative without consideration simply because it’s the old way of doing things. An unexamined strategy is really no strategy at all.

Neither approach is universally right. Both have advantages; both have disadvantages. Take a careful look at the pros and cons of each approach. Then make a strategic decision on which one is the best for you and your call center. Your organization’s future may be at stake.

Peter L. DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and a passionate wordsmith. Connect with him on his blogs, social media, and newsletter, all accessible at www.authorpeterdehaan.com.

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Vendor Spotlight: LVM Systems


LVM Systems


LVM Systems, one of the industry’s largest providers of hospital-based healthcare call center solutions, celebrated another successful year in 2016. This marked its twenty-ninth consecutive year of annual profitability since its founding in 1988.

Driven by comprehensive software, customized training, and exceptional support services, LVM has established a reputation for quality. At LVM, past accomplishments drive ongoing improvements and the development of additional functionality to increase the success of its clients.

LVM has again taken the lead by bringing to market a comprehensive, individually customizable, multi-morbidity care management program. Appropriately named, the Co-Morbidity Care Management Program (CCMP) assists hospitals in cutting costs through better care coordination and advanced health coaching solutions. Included in the program are annually updated standards of care, diabetes distress screening, Zung depression survey, adherence report card, and patient and physician letters.

LVM’s extensive health coaching solutions combine detailed clinical content along with the technological capabilities needed to structure and run a multi-level, multi-morbidity program. The health coaching solutions enable clients to track outcomes, cost savings, and revenue associated with the patient over time, linking these values back to the initial and on-going interactions.

Since being officially recognized as a disease state, eradicating, or at least reducing, obesity has gained critical importance. And with many obese individuals also suffering from additional chronic health conditions, the ability to address multiple morbidities within a single program is more important than ever in order to effectively manage resources and save costs.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ—2013), 71 cents of every dollar of US healthcare spending goes to treating people with multiple chronic conditions. AHRQ further found that “More than a quarter of all Americans—and two out of three older Americans—are estimated to have at least two chronic physical or behavioral health problems.”

Further supporting these findings was a study by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (2015), which found that 191 million people in America had at least one chronic disease and 75 million had two or more chronic diseases.

Despite this growing number of high-risk, high-cost patients in need of coordinated care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently passed a final pass-through pay rule estimated to cost hospitals more than $3 billion a year in supplemental funding to safety net providers. Consequently, today well-coordinated, cost-effective care is more critical than ever.

It’s not just about cost savings. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease in a 2016 study, noted that, “In America 1,100,000 lives could be saved annually through better prevention and treatment of chronic disease.” This should be care management’s top priority.

To improve communication with a hospital’s associated organizations enabling them to easily integrate with the core Centaurus call center system, LVM has developed iCentaurus, a remote reporting function. iCentaurus enables the call center to provide restricted report printing capabilities to any related organization from remote locations via the web. The call center determines the reports and specific parameters the associated organization can generate. Now, the partnering care facility can access patient care management reports whenever desired.

LVM constantly adds increased functionality, greater usability, and enhanced call handling efficiency to its base system. Client input assists LVM’s development team to assure the products and services LVM delivers address the industry’s greatest needs.

Recent enhancements include:

  • Send real-time photos videos via the Internet to the call center nurse of the condition prompting the triage call (such as a rash, burn, laceration, etc.) This allows the triage nurse to use an otherwise missing critical triage tool: visual assessment.
  • Saving the photos and videos to the call transaction file makes them available for inclusion in the patient’s EHR or paper chart
  • Interactive patient history, accessible at any point during the call
  • Discount fee structures for various programs, memberships, and classes
  • Ability to send an email of any report as a secure, web-based document to any recipient
  • Override options to hide system controls or unlock fields
  • Functionality to store documents to a database attached to the individual’s record
  • Color-coded records, for example: high acuity triage calls.
  • Global gmail.com addresses to enable patients to directly reach hospital departments.
  • Automated system notifications that monitor and display specific data, such as status bar, balloon notifications, or pop-up messages.
  • Check data routine that suggests maintenance reports that need to be run
  • The ability to host an installed solution or run it as SaaS hosted by LVM in one of its two, high-security data centers.

In addition to its advanced pediatric and adult nurse triage functionality, LVM’s healthcare call center solutions include CRM database segmentation functions along with a full array of physician referral, class, and membership management systems, patient transfer, and behavioral health input functions, among others.

LVM SystemsFor more information or a demonstration of LVM’s call center solutions contact Carol Zeek, regional VP, sales, at 480-633-8200 x279 or Leann Delaney, regional VP, sales at 480-633-8200 x286.

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