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1Call & Vocera Enhance Care Team Collaboration; Improve Patient Experience

1Call, a division of Amtelco

1Call, a division of Amtelco, now integrates with clinical communication and workflow solutions from Vocera Communications, Inc. Interoperability between 1Call and Vocera solutions, including smartphone applications, hands-free communication devices, and intelligent middleware, ensures that crucial messages are distributed with contextual information to the correct care team members on their device of choice.

“Every healthcare organization strives to provide the best care for patients,” said Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco and 1Call. “Whether it’s a phone call to a clinic or during a patient’s hospital stay, each patient expects to receive fast and accurate answers, along with timely and proper care. The 1Call and Vocera collaboration provides mutual customers with a best-in-industry interface designed to provide better outcomes for patients.”

The interoperability of the 1Call and Vocera solutions eliminates manual data entry and helps eliminate errors in contacting the wrong personnel. In addition, 1Call and Vocera solutions help speed up response times by ensuring an entire healthcare facility has instant access to current information while also safeguarding data.

When used in conjunction with 1Call, users of Vocera solutions can:

  • Access on-call schedules, status, and messages to easily view, edit, and create on-call schedules through 1Call’s miTeamWeb app.
  • Use 1Call’s scripting module in hospital contact centers to guide agents through each call, including code calls, with ease.
  • Access real-time medical staff status and on-call schedules so the correct team members are contacted when personnel receive a message or notification about a patient.
  • Access patient data, securely, so care teams can view recent labs, diagnosis information, and help streamline the process of handling critical events.
  • Track everything that happens on calls, changes to on-call schedules, status updates, and more to generate various reports that help organizations monitor and optimize performance, easily spot trends, and focus on areas that need attention. 

“The integration between the Vocera and 1Call systems makes it easy for clinicians to contact the right team members and securely communicate about patients,” said Brent Lang, chairman and CEO of Vocera. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact of this collaboration and how this integration simplifies workflows and eases the cognitive burden for care teams.”

1Call, a division of Amtelco

The 1Call division of Amtelco is a leader in developing software solutions and applications created 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, improve efficiency, and help bring wellness to their patients.

The mission of Vocera Communications, Inc. is to improve the lives of healthcare professionals, patients, and families. Founded in 2000, Vocera provides clinical communication and workflow solutions that help protect and connect team members, increase operational efficiency, enhance quality of care and safety, and humanize the healthcare experience.

The September 2021 Issue of Medical Call Center News



Read the September 2021 issue of Medical Call Center News.

Medical Call Center News is an e-newsletter published by Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc, in conjunction with AnswerStat magazine.

Please tell your coworkers about Medical Call Center News.

Thank you!

[Medical Call Center News is published by Peter DeHaan Publishing IncPeter Lyle DeHaan, editor.]

August 2021 Issue of AnswerStat

Read the August issue of AnswerStat, the information hub for healthcare contact centers.



Feature Content:

AS-TOC-Aug-2021

The Expanding World of Telehealth, by Ravi K. Raheja, MD
Telehealth is expanding to fill a new and critical role in the effective provision of healthcare services. . . . read more >>

Vital Signs: Send Your Call Center Back to School, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Don’t let another year go by without giving your staff the training they need. The result will be happier employees, better served patients, and a more effective call center. . . . read more >>

Guest Column: Medical Answering Services and Telephone Triage, by Nicole Limpert
With today’s technological advances, medical answering services can provide outstanding telephone triage services that result in better patient care. . . . read more >>

Ten Years Ago: Opportunities Abound for Healthcare Call Centers, by Mark Dwyer, LVM Systems
The future holds exciting opportunities for healthcare call centers to better address the medical needs of their community. . . . read more >>

Industry News

Send us your healthcare call center news for consideration in the next issue of AnswerStat.

Marketplace Directory: AnswerStat Directory of leading Healthcare Contact Center vendors:

Ameridial healthcare solutions
Call 4 Health
Startel
Pulsar360
Keona Health


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.

Contact us for more information.

The Expanding World of Telehealth

TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

The pandemic accelerated the use of telemedicine, and indications are that it’s here to stay. Patients and families have largely embraced it as a convenient means of medical care for concerns and questions that do not require an in-person visit, while more providers—including primary care and specialists—have continued to adopt it. As a result of the increasing demand for telehealth, the triage nurse protocols written by Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Thompson contain updated support for triage nurses to schedule telehealth visits.

In addition, the medical community faces two new challenges from COVID. First, the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant; and second, the rise in patient callers who are nervous and confused about whether their mild-to-moderate symptoms are indications of infection. One of the best options that practices can implement to offset these concerns is by coupling their telehealth with telephone nurse triage.

Leverage Gold Standard Protocols

Most telephone nurse triage relies on protocols developed by Drs. Schmitt and Thompson to assess patient symptoms and provide dispositions on whether to seek emergency medical care. Updated to address COVID-19, the protocols were particularly beneficial to callers during the height of the pandemic 

Maximize Patient Coverage

Social distancing and telehealth have created an influx in patient calls in addition to normal appointments. But in-house staff may feel limited in being able to address all of them, especially when patients call after-hours. This is where nurse triage can complement a practice’s efforts by acting as an extension of the practice to evaluate patient symptoms, schedule appointments, and offer customized orders. 

More importantly, most telephone triage services are available 24/7.

Improve Telehealth Services

Not only can triage nurses schedule patient appointments for a practice, but they can also use protocols to determine whether those appointments are eligible for telehealth. Effective telehealth documents all calls and dispositions. Then it shares all documents with the nursing staff and providers, including telehealth eligibility and the rationale for it. 

This reduces the stress on an inhouse team to manage these appointments, provides a seamless process for callers, and allows a practice to increase its capacity for seeing in-person patients with more urgent needs.

Customize Instructions for Eligibility

Telehealth and telemedicine services differ from other offerings; this requires customized instructions for triage nurses to know which ones a practice offers. When a nurse decides telehealth eligibility, that determination depends on whether the healthcare symptom can be resolved over the phone. 

Conclusion

Telehealth is expanding to fill a new and critical role in the effective provision of healthcare services.

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 quality nurse telehealth technology, remote patient monitoring, and medical call center solutions. The TriageLogic Group serves more than 9,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide. To learn more, call 800-723-4290 or go to https://triagelogic.com/contact-us/.

Send Your Call Center Back to School

Now Is an Ideal Time to Enhance the Skill Level of Your Telephone Staff 

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

We live in interesting times, to say the least. Too often the healthcare call center industry spends much time focusing on the crisis of today that it squashes all thought about planning for tomorrow. Once we slip into crisis mode out of necessity, it’s too easy to stay there out of habit—even if there is no longer any justification for it.

We may stand at that juncture now. This means it’s time to balance our work for today with taking initiative to prepare for the future. If we don’t, we won’t make forward progress; we’ll merely survive. Though survival is necessary, we need more if we hope to find success and enjoy fulfillment. I’m talking about ourselves, our staff, and our organization.

One aspect of future preparation is education. This can be formal or informal, structured or ad hoc, and mandated or self-determined. Though the application relates to everyone in the call center from new hire to director, let’s—by way of example—consider this for your telephone representatives. I’ll leave it to you to extend this throughout all staff in your operation.

Refresher Training

When we think of our call center staff going back to school, consider refresher training for the first initiative. It never hurts to revisit the basics. Though it may feel as though our existing staff has moved beyond this elementary teaching, the basics can atrophy over time. 

Agents will forget some of this instruction. Or maybe they never fully grasped other skills to begin with, even though they seem to be doing well in their jobs overall. The problem is the specifics of what teaching to refresh varies from one person to another. Therefore, it’s good to review everything.

Yes, I already hear your staff complaining. But this refresher initiative doesn’t—and shouldn’t—take as long as the first iteration. It should go much faster. Perhaps you can condense a day’s worth of training into an hour—or even less. The important thing is to make sure these basic skills don’t slip away over time.

Application Instruction

A second option for going back to school is to look at application instruction. When new software or an app enters your call center, agents need to receive instruction to know how to use it. Too often the urgency of the moment cuts this training short; it’s sometimes even omitted. This forces your phone representatives to figure it out on the fly. Though this may seem pragmatic or feel necessary, on-the-job-training frustrates employees who want to provide excellent service, and it’s disrespectful to callers who expect to receive it.

Go back and provide complete training on new software applications, as well as for major updates. Everyone will appreciate receiving this much-needed instruction.

Skill Enhancement

After reviewing the basics and mastering call center software apps, we can go back to school to enhance our skills. Your telephone staff receives initial onboarding training when they’re hired. 

As they go about their daily work, they apply that training and build upon it to increase their skill level. But this isn’t enough to ensure excellence, let alone produce successful outcomes. Your seasoned staff is ready for more. They need more. And you can provide it for them by teaching advanced call center service techniques. 

This may relate to customer service skills, problem resolution techniques, or de-escalating angry callers. It could also cover the seldom-used but much-appreciated advanced options available on your software platforms and databases. Staff won’t use these skills often, but when the situation arises possessing the knowledge of these advanced techniques can make the difference between an unsuccessful interaction and a positive outcome.

Conclusion

As students everywhere return to the classroom this fall, do the same thing for your call center staff: send them back to school. Providing refresher training, application instruction, and skill enhancement will help them do their jobs with greater efficiency and produce higher quality outcomes. 

Don’t let another year go by without giving your staff this much-needed support. The result will be happier employees and better served customers—in addition to a more effective call center operation.

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.

Medical Answering Services and Telephone Triage

By Nicole Limpert

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Doctors in the United States first began using answering services in the 1920s so they would be made aware of patient emergencies. At that time, operators were basic message-takers and would pass along patient concerns and contact information to the doctor.

Today’s medical answering services provide a much wider range of services to lighten the administrative workloads of medical offices, and not only assist doctors, but also surgeons, hospice, home health, dentists, orthodontists, and even large healthcare systems. Medical organizations that use an answering service can experience increased appointment setting rates, better patient-doctor communication, improved patient satisfaction, and provide their patients with reliable access to care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Some medical answering services can even provide telephone triage if they employ licensed professional staff members trained to give an accurate assessment of a patient caller’s concerns.

Telephone Triage

The use of triage originated during World War I to avoid focusing resources on victims with fatal injuries. Sometime in the early 1970s, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) instituted telephone advice services which led to hospital emergency departments establishing 24-hour telephone advice programs. Telephone triage is now a sophisticated practice usually performed by nurses and other highly trained medical personnel.

Telehealth, telemedicine, and telephone triage may all sound similar, but each are quite different. Telehealth focuses on the actual delivery of care (both preventative and curative). Telemedicine involves the diagnosis of a patient’s health compliant and recommended treatment by a physician via any form of telecommunication. Telephone triage is the assessment of a patient’s symptoms and the urgency needed to quickly get that patient connected with the correct doctor or department. 

Telephone Triage Communication Model

Effective communication is critical in telephone triage. Typical models of communication include three parts:

1. Data Collection: The answering service agent gathers data from the patient caller about the problem and asks open-ended questions to encourage more information about the symptoms.

2. Confirmation: The agent repeats the information using some medical terminology but in a way that the patient can understand. The patient confirms and redefines the symptoms if necessary.

3. Disposition: The agent may give advice about treating symptoms, but the main outcome is to quickly connect the patient caller with an appropriate doctor, clinic, or hospital department. 

To assist operators with remembering which questions to ask during the assessment, it is common for them to use a mnemonic device called OLD CART:

O (onset of symptoms): When did the symptom(s) first occur? Has it happened before?

L (location): Where on the body is the symptom occurring?

D (duration): How long has the symptom(s) been present and is it constant or does it come and go?

C (characteristics): Describe what the symptom(s) feels like.

A (associated factors): Are there any other signs and symptoms that occur?

R (relieving factors): Does anything make it feel better or reduce the severity?

T (treatments tried): What has been tried to relieve the symptom? Has anything worked?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Telephone Triage

There have been many studies published about telephone triage and how they help reduce a healthcare organization’s costs while helping patients experience better health and greater satisfaction. BMC Health Services Research conducted a review of existing body of research about telephone triage and advice services (TTAS) and found that, “TTAS was examined either alone, or as part of a primary care service model or intervention designed to improve primary care. Patient satisfaction with TTAS was generally high and there is some consistency of evidence of the ability of TTAS to reduce clinical workload. Measures of the safety of TTAS tended to show that there is no major difference between TTAS and traditional care.”

The primary disadvantage of telephone triage is liability. Lawsuits can be filed if a patient call was mishandled. For example, a negative health outcome can be attributed to a miscommunication, because a patient was on hold for a long time, or due to a lack of information about the patient.

If the situation is serious enough and becomes a legal issue, the courts may even hold a doctor responsible if they find the person assisting the patient via telephone triage lacked skill or training. In the unfortunate event of a serious medical problem or death because of mistakes made by a triage service, anyone connected with the case (such as nurses, physicians, other medical personnel, the healthcare organization, and the patient’s health plan) could be sued.

Importance of Call Center Software for Effective Telephone Triage

Medical answering services who also offer telephone triage systems can safeguard against liabilities for themselves and their medical clients by using a robust call center software. All-inclusive, highly interoperable healthcare software can integrate with electronic medical record (EMR) systems and use artificial intelligence (AI) to help ensure operators are talking to the correct patient; customized scripting ensures operators are asking and giving correct information; and they also offer critical call priority and improved call routing.

Effective contact center software also provides a customizable reporting function to keep track of metrics that enhance accountability with call logging and video screen capture, connect remote agents, and manage on-call scheduling. Because calls, messages, screen capture images, and more can be recorded, tracked, time-stamped, and stored, data from call centers can also help protect themselves, hospitals, and patients in litigious situations.

Medical answering services can also take advantage of running their call center software in a virtual server environment or in the cloud. This enables their staff to work from home by turning any personal computer into a professional agent workstation. All the tools used by an agent in a medical answering service call center are accessible to the virtual agent.

Secure Messaging and Telephone Triage

A secure mobile messaging app can help keep both medical answering service providers and their healthcare clients HIPAA-compliant in the event an agent needs to contact on-call medical personnel about a patient caller.

If an agent determines a patient’s doctor needs to be notified immediately about a critical situation, a secure messaging app that’s integrated with the agent’s call center software and on-call software can quickly contact the correct physician. End-to-end encryption ensures all communications are secure and protected.

Persistent alert settings can be set so important messages won’t be missed, and full reporting functions available via the app tracks messaging histories including if a message was received, opened, and replied to.

With today’s technological advances and secure HIPAA-compliant communication options, medical answering services can provide outstanding telephone triage services that result in better patient care while protecting against liability issues.

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Nicole Limpert is the marketing content writer for Amtelco and their 1Call Healthcare Division. Amtelco is a leading provider of innovative communication applications. 1Call develops software solutions and applications designed for the specific needs of healthcare organizations.

Amtelco Solution Helps Customers Transform Agent Experience

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Amtelco announced that their Genesis Intelligent Series application version 5.4 is compliant with Avaya OneCloud™ Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solutions, helping customers enhance call processing to prioritize critical calls and improve call routing and management. Avaya is a global leader in solutions that enhance and simplify communications and collaboration.

Amtelco’s solution is an all-inclusive healthcare call center software suite featuring multi-channel integrations with built-in speech recognition, text to speech, and voice services. The software helps customers track metrics with customizable reporting, enhance accountability with call logging and video screen capture, connect remote agents, and manage on-call scheduling. Customers can also run it in a virtual server environment or in the cloud. 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.

“We are excited that our latest application release has successfully completed Avaya DevConnect compliance testing,” said Tom Curtin, Amtelco president. “Our mutual customers can confidently deploy it with the Avaya Aura 8.1 platform, helping them get more out of their communications infrastructure.”  

Amtelco is a Technology Partner in the Avaya DevConnect program—an initiative to develop, market, and sell innovative third-party products that interoperate with Avaya technology. 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

Learn more about how Amtelco is part of Avaya’s DevConnect program and Avaya’s other partner programs. 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. 

The July 2021 Issue of Medical Call Center News



Read the July 2021 issue of Medical Call Center News.

Medical Call Center News is an e-newsletter published by Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc, in conjunction with AnswerStat magazine.

Please tell your coworkers about Medical Call Center News.

Thank you!

[Medical Call Center News is published by Peter DeHaan Publishing IncPeter Lyle DeHaan, editor.]

TriageLogic Ebook Details Changes in Patient Behavior During COVID-19 Pandemic

TriageLogic

TriageLogic® released a study they conducted of their telephone nurse triage system during the COVID-19 pandemic that analyzes caller data, protocols used, and general changes in patient behavior to shed light on the efficacy of remote care in the modern medical age.

COVID-19 altered many patients’ perceptions of healthcare. So much of the population was afraid of contracting the virus, and this fear was exacerbated by the potential risk of exposure in a hospital setting. As a result, telephone nurse triage took on a critical role, not only helping patients determine the circumstances under which they should seek emergency treatment, but also slowing the spread of the infection. 

TriageLogic already had experience providing homecare advice to patients, scheduling telehealth appointments, and directing emergency cases to the appropriate providers, and these only became more important during the pandemic. To evaluate how those patients’ needs changed, the company reviewed patient demographics, medical conditions, and outcomes reported through their nurse triage call center from January to October of 2020. The resulting data is published in their ebook 2020 Telehealth in Review: Symptoms, Outcomes and COVID.

It supports the assertion that nurse triage and remote care are essential advisors when it comes to directing patients to emergency services or safe and accessible alternatives. Key findings from the study include:

  • Women called two to three times more frequently than men, possibly due to OB/GYN patients. 
  • Gender ratios were roughly the same for pediatric patients.
  • More than one-in-four adults who called the nurse triage service required urgent medical attention, yet 86 percent of patients indicated they were not originally planning to go to the ER.
  • Women ages 18–45 tended to have more serious symptoms than other adult patients and were 1.5 times as likely to need urgent care than men their age. 
  • Women were also more likely to underestimate the severity of their symptoms compared to all other patient groups. 
  • Triage protocols determined that 30 percent of patients who were planning to go to the ER did not actually need urgent care, prompting nurses to advise them on alternative nonemergency options. 
  • Patients tended to underestimate symptoms that were signs of a serious medical condition, including abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, chest pain, high blood pressure, and COVID diagnosis or exposure.
  • Patients were more likely to delay seeking care during the pandemic when compared with data collected prior to COVID.
  • Telephone nurse triage has provided a safe and effective way to advise patients on the appropriate levels of care, saving lives and reducing burdens on healthcare systems during the COVID pandemic.

This data has been made available to the medical community at large to provide a transparent understanding of patient conduct and needs as the healthcare industry continues to evolve. 

TriageLogic

TriageLogic is a URAC-accredited, physician-led provider of top-quality nurse telehealth technology, remote patient monitoring, and medical call center solutions, all for the purpose of encouraging positive patient behavior and improving access to healthcare. Founded in 2007, the TriageLogic Group now serves more than 9,000 physicians and covers over 20 million lives nationwide. They continue to partner with private practices, hospitals, and corporations throughout the United States. Email them at info@triagelogic.com.

Customer Service Book Released

Peter Lyle DeHaan Publishes New Book: Sticky Customer Service

Peter Lyle DeHaan released his latest book, Sticky Customer Service: Stop Churning Customers and Start Growing Your Business, on June 17. Sticky Customer Service addresses all aspects of customer service, with the telephone taking center stage.

Sticky Customer Service

“Customer service is part of every business, including healthcare,” DeHaan says. “Practitioners and leaders in the medical field can take these general business principles and readily apply them to patient interactions, informing day-to-day actions to lead to better outcomes and higher patient retention.”

In Sticky Customer Service, you’ll discover:

  • The three key areas where customer service occurs and why they must work together.
  • How to avoid common errors that too many businesses make.
  • Why delighting customers is not the best approach and sets up future failure.

“Customer service isn’t a once-and-done effort,” DeHaan states. “It takes ongoing work to truly meet your customers’ expectations.” In Sticky Customer Service, unearth practical, action-oriented insights to help turn customer service from an embarrassing weakness into a business strength.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Sticky Customer Service is book one in the Sticky series. Future titles include Sticky Leadership, Sticky Sales and Marketing, and Sticky Living.

Sticky Customer Service is available now in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.