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Articles from AnswerStat

Is BPO a Key Enabler in the Push for Better Patient Outcomes?

By Anand Natampalli

In the emerging value-based world, healthcare providers and payers increasingly align incentives to drive improved patient health outcomes, more patient-centric services, and reduced medical cost for individuals. BPO (business processing outsourcer) service providers can bring a neutral consultative perspective, with design thinking and innovation, to meet the provider’s complex challenges.

To solve individual provider’s specific needs, BPO organizations bring customized solutions using a service incubation approach. It incorporates the following:

  • A new breed of patient engagement and experience solutions, with a consolidated, targeted strategy
  • Data management and integration, sharing intelligence from different segments of the collective healthcare ecosystem, including payers, providers, pharmaceutical companies, and durable medical equipment (DME) providers
  • Process optimization through automation and analytics, with a population health management (PHM) focus

A New Breed of Patient Engagement and Experience

Often, consumers of healthcare services encounter confusing phone directories, difficult-to-navigate-websites, and representatives who may not have the training or resources to make a patient encounter meaningful and productive. One of the most critical areas where BPOs can contribute is by helping provider organizations improve the patient experience and drive better health outcomes.

With the added patient choice in today’s marketplace, patient engagement, and experience—an area traditionally of lesser importance to health systems—is now critically paramount to attracting and retaining patients, driving healthier outcomes, and achieving higher ratings.

Patient engagement and experience is often a critical missed opportunity for provider organizations of all sizes. Patient access centers are legitimate business departments and have an important role to play in the transition to value-based, patient-centric care. They have the potential to create new streams of revenue. They engender patient brand loyalty. Most importantly, access centers are a critical first impression that ultimately determines whether a patient chooses to purchase healthcare services.

In a patient-centric healthcare economy, BPOs offer the right balance of technology and talent for seamless, patient-experience delivery. BPOs play an effective front-line role to drive revenue and patient satisfaction, reduce no-shows, and eliminate the need for patients to fish around for answers to their questions. These partners can more effectively employ their analytics and automation expertise to make the patient experience as easy as possible through both personalization and self-service—striving for that perfect balance between automated bots and live, human-touch interaction.

Data Management and Integration

In the new healthcare landscape, PHM is a key area of focus for providers. According to a May 2017 Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey of hospital CEOs, population health analytics investment is the highest-rated analytics priority for healthcare organizations.

The amount of data attached to every patient has grown exponentially. This must be gathered, integrated, and interpreted according to compliance guidelines and processes that can vary widely between payers and providers. Additionally, the datasets held by payers and providers can be different. For example, payers possess data on claims, financial analytics, and risk models. Providers have administrative and clinical data that includes case histories and outcomes.

BPOs with both payer and provider expertise can best assist, by bridging the data gap between these two organizations. For example, BPOs not only have claims data from provider groups but also from payers. By leveraging this comprehensive information, providers have a better, more holistic view of patient health. Armed with this intelligence, providers can positively affect a patient’s health outcomes, through PHM processes that also bend the cost curve.

Further to this point, each data set is valuable, but in isolation it doesn’t provide a holistic and contextual perspective of the patient. Providers need to leverage health plan data to move from episodic care to delivering outcomes-based care across the care continuum. Payers need access to patient information to work with providers to establish appropriate care plans for their members. Again, this is where BPOs bridge the gap for providers, as well as payers.BPOs offer the right balance of technology and talent for seamless, patient-experience delivery. Click To Tweet

Automation and Analytics with a PHM Focus

With better patient engagement and data integration to leverage PHM, there is an ideal scenario for best use of automation and analytics. BPO partners can bring the requisite advanced automation and analytics, as key drivers of business improvements or process changes. With more understanding and awareness of the data coming downstream, BPOs know how to analyze these data points and decouple nonessential activities with automation for a positive impact on health outcomes and to drive costs down.

They also can offer “automation and analytics as a service,” relieving organizations of the capital and time investment of developing these abilities in house. Today’s cognitive computing capabilities will affect more complex, judgement-based activities (like origination and underwriting) with compliance objectives, too. Agility, speed, and accuracy are all positive customer satisfaction results derived from these transformations. Most impactful may be the automation data and applied analytics that will dramatically improve outcomes, for more forward-thinking strategies.

Conclusion

Today, BPO partners take an active role in helping provider organizations manage change, internally and externally. This puts them in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities found by optimizing patient experience journeys. By selecting the right partner, hospitals and health systems can position themselves to gain a competitive advantage in the present, while setting themselves up for an even brighter future.

Anand Natampalli is a senior vice president, global business development, for HGS, a provider of end-to-end business process services for numerous Fortune 100 health insurance companies and large provider organizations.

Answering Services Can Help Medical Clinics Do More for Less


Call Center Sales Pro, providing proven healthcare call center solutions


By Janet Livingston

 Everyone in healthcare knows the key challenges the industry faces: do more, do it better, and do it for less. These pressures confront healthcare providers, coming from both the insurance companies that reimburse them and the patients that they serve.

But how can providers achieve these objectives of doing more, doing it better, and doing it for less, when these goals run counter to each other? Finding a solution requires innovative thinking and doing things in new ways.

Enter the venerable telephone answering service. Today, leading answering services are stepping up to this challenge.

For decades answering services have provided telephone support to the healthcare community by answering calls, taking messages, and dispatching emergencies. They’ve done this afterhours and 24/7. When it comes to supporting medical clinics and healthcare practices, answering services can do these things. But they can also do much more.

Two Key Considerations

EMR Integration: One key way to make your answering service invaluable to a medical clinic or healthcare facility is to integrate your answering service platform with their EMR (electronic medical record) system. This allows you to automatically transfer the information you gathered from the clinics’ patients to the clinics’ EMR platform.

Without this capability, one of two things will occur. Either someone will need to manually rekey the information, or the information will forever remain isolated. Neither scenario is a good one.

The first instance requires hours of labor each day to reenter the information. Plus, as with any manual process, there’s a chance of data-entry errors. This will then put into question the reliability of the information and reflects badly on your answering service, even though the problem occurred after the data left your facility.

In the other scenario, though you’ve provided important information to the clinic, it’s of little value to them because it sequestered in an isolated database that’s not integrated with their main systems.

This is why EMR integration is so critical. Any answering service that can provide it distinguishes themselves from the competition. Plus, grateful clinics will form long-term relationships with their answering service because they don’t want to lose this valuable feature.

Smart Phone Integration: Virtually everyone in healthcare carries a smart phone (and sometimes more than one). This mobile technology has become indispensable in today’s business world, including the healthcare industry.

Leading answering services offer a data portal to their clients. This portal provides a powerful tool to access their account and the information in it. The next step is extending this functionality to the smart phone, such as with Amtelco’s miTeamWeb. This and other similar products enable answering service clients to review their answering service information, make updates, and manage their account at any time, from anywhere, using a smart phone app. This puts control of answering service accounts literally in the hands of its clients.

These apps work great out of the box and require little configuration for basic functionality. However, the most powerful answering service apps allow for customization in how the information is displayed, as well as to create widgets to accomplish specialized tasks and enhanced integrations.

For all its value and power, creating the widgets—especially the more complicated ones—requires technical knowledge and carries the need for programming skills. Not every answering service can do this, but those who can provide tremendous value to their clients.

Again, this enhanced service offering distinguishes one answering service from most others. It allows an answering service to better serve its clients in ways that the competition can’t match.

Conclusion

Most answering services can work for medical clinics and healthcare facilities. However, answering services that integrate with clinics’ EMR systems and provide sophisticated smart phone integration distinguish themselves from other less-equipped providers.

Which type of answering service do you want to be?

 Call Center Sales Pro, a full-service healthcare call center consultancyJanet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier consultancy and service provider for healthcare call centers and answering services. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or call 800-901-7706.

Vendor Spotlight: LVM Systems Celebrates 30th Anniversary


LVM Systems


LVM Systems continues to evolve within the dynamic healthcare industry. Now, thirty years since its inception, hundreds of call centers, thousands of users, and millions of calls have established LVM as a leading provider of healthcare call center software solutions. LVM’s Centaurus software is the industry’s product of choice.

This year, as LVM celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, it reflects on its humble beginnings in the garage of Les Mortensen. Then only one man with an idea, today LVM operates from its two-building complex in Mesa, AZ.

Over the years, LVM has added new products while implementing hundreds of changes and enhancements to its flagship Centaurus software in response to its clients’ needs. Through it all, LVM has stayed true to its mission: helping healthcare call centers help patients.

This year, LVM’s development focus turned to cyber-security. With the ever-increasing number of cyber-attacks on personal health information (PHI), heightened security became critical. Numerous enhancements in LVM’s 2018 release of Centaurus relate to strengthening security safeguards.

Here are a few of the security changes:

  • Protected key fields from viewing until clicking the field. When clicked, the field displays, and a log is written noting the user that viewed the information.
  • Included a site level default that defines the required minimum length of passwords, along with the number of upper and lower-case letters, numeric values, and special characters allowing clients to follow their internal standards.
  • Upgraded credential system to modern best practices.
  • Enabled user accounts can expire on a particular date, making the user unable to log in to Centaurus.
  • Added the ability to lock a user’s record when the user exceeds the allowed number of failed login attempts. A user with manager authorization can unlock their user record.
  • Upgraded handling of passwords to store previous password hashes to prevent re-use.
LVM’s continued growth throughout its 30-year history is built upon providing comprehensive, efficient software, using recognized, quality clinical content, and building positive client relationships. Click To Tweet

Other recent enhancements include:

  • Centaurus authorized users can now create custom screen views from a “clean slate” to include only the fields used, greatly simplifying the screen presentation.
  • A web-based chat product, set up on the client’s website, allows a patient to engage and start a chat with the contact center.
  • Profiles display dynamically as a user views them. This way, the user always sees the most current data.
  • A national provider ID field now appears on the physician search screen.

In addition, LVM has updated its iCentaurus program to allow call centers to provide to select organizations the ability to set-up and maintain their physician and class profiles from remote locations via the web. A set of client-defined rules directs how the profile data is stored within N-Centaurus. Now, physician office managers and class instructors can be responsible for keeping their respective physician and class profiles current.

Capitalizing on the improvements in cellular phones’ ability to send photos and videos via the internet, Centaurus now supports a patient sending a photo or video of the reason prompting their triage call to the call center triage nurse. Centaurus saves the photo or video to the patient’s file making it available for inclusion in the patient’s EHR or paper chart. This allows the call center triage nurse to use an otherwise missing critical tool of triage: visual assessment.

LVM’s Centaurus healthcare call center solutions offer advanced nurse triage functionality, along with a full array of physician referral, class and membership management, patient transfer, behavioral health intake, a co-morbidity care management program, and marketing and CRM capabilities. Centaurus is available installed on-site or run as SaaS hosted by LVM at one of its two data centers.

When reflecting upon how LVM has continued to grow throughout its 30-year history, three critical components come to mind: providing comprehensive, efficient software; using recognized, quality clinical content; and building positive relationships with clients across all company departments.

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

LVM SystemsMark Dwyer is a 32-year veteran of the healthcare call center industry. He has been with LVM Systems since 2003.

Voice AI in the Healthcare Call Center



Should We Embrace Technology in Our Medical Contact Centers or Fear It?

 By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStatThroughout the history of the call center industry we’ve looked for ways to help our agents be more effective. In the pre-computer days this often meant physical solutions and electromechanical devices that allowed staff to answer calls faster, record information easier, and organize data more effectively.

Then came rudimentary computers that provided basic call distribution and CTI (computer telephony integration). Computer databases allowed us to retrieve information and store data. Following this we experienced voicemail, IVR (interactive voice response), and automated attendant. More recently we’ve encountered speech-to-text conversion and text-to-speech applications. Then came the chatbots, computerized automatons that allow for basic text and voice communication between machine and people.

Computers are talking with us. Smart phones, too. Consider Siri, Alexa, and all their friends. Technology marches forward. What will happen next?

I just did an online search for Voice AI. Within .64 seconds I received two million results. I’m still working my way through the list (not really), but the first few matches gave me some eye-opening and thought-provoking content to read and watch.

In considering this information, it’s hard to determine what’s practical application for our near future and what’s theoretical potential that might never happen. However, my conclusion is that with advances in chatbot technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, we aren’t far from the time when computer applications will carry on full, convincing conversations with callers, who will think they’re talking with real people.

While many pieces of this puzzle are available today, I submit that we’re not yet to the point where we can have a complete, intelligent dialogue with a computer and not know it. But it will happen. Probably soon.  With AI and machine learning, the potential exists for an intelligent interface to provide the conversational bridge between patients and triage protocols. Click To Tweet

What Does Voice AI Mean for the Medical Call Center?

Voice AI in the Healthcare Call CenterJust like all technological advances since the inception of the earliest call centers, we’ll continue to free agents from basic tasks and allow them to handle more complex issues. Technology will not replace agents, but it will shift their primary responsibilities.

Or maybe not.

With the application of voice AI, might we one day have a call center staffed with computer algorithms instead of telephone agents? I don’t know. Anything I say today will likely seem laughable in the future. Either I will have overstretched technology’s potential or underestimated the speed of its advance.

I think I’m okay talking to a computer program to make an appointment with my doctor. And it wouldn’t bother me to call in the evening and converse with a computer as I leave my message for the doctor, nurse, or office staff. However, what concerns me just a tad would be calling a telephone triage number and having a computer give me medical advice.

Yet in considering the pieces of technology available to us today, this isn’t so far-fetched. Proven triage protocols are already defined and stored in a database. Giving them a computerized voice is possible now. And with AI and machine learning, the potential exists for an intelligent interface to provide the conversational bridge between me and the protocols. And this could be the solution to our growing shortage of medical practitioners.

For those of you actually doing telephone triage, you might be laughing right now. Perhaps you’re already implementing this. Or maybe you’re convinced it will never work.

Yet it’s important that we talk about technology and its application in healthcare call centers. Regardless of what happens, the future will certainly be an interesting place.

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.

Telephone Triage Research: Right Staff, Right Stuff



By Sheila Quiler Wheeler

Broadly speaking, telephone triage is a form of pre-hospital clinical care, albeit by phone. All clinical care implies a standardized approach and system components, similar to any other clinical subspecialty.

Telephone Triage Decision-Making Safety Research

The task of telephone triage involves assessing symptoms of invisible patients with a range of emergent to non-acute symptoms. As telephone triage clinicians we must insure the safe, timely assessment, and disposition of patient symptoms via the phone. Our challenge is to get the patient to the right place, at the right time, for the right reason.

In 2013, I authored a review of literature on telephone triage with a team of experts. We found that patient safety is a persistent topic in telephone triage research. Reviews of past research did not differentiate between clinicians’ and non-clinicians’ respective safety.

For example, four groups of decision makers—both clinician and non-clinician—perform aspects of telephone triage: physicians (clinician), nurses (clinician), emergency medical dispatchers/EMD (non-clinician), and clerical staff (non-clinician). We compared the four groups, reviewing studies between 2002 and 2012, looking for evidence of safety: complete systems and safe dispositions—that is, timely access to appointments.

Safety is likely related to the clinical expertise of the decision maker. While clerical staff and EMDs were not found to be safe, nurses had the highest percentage of safe dispositions, followed by physicians. While telephone triage nurses have minimal systems, traditionally, physicians have little or no training, telephone triage guidelines, or standards; frequently they do not document calls.

When compared to nurses, physicians’ practices appear to not have significantly evolved since the 1950s. Many experts believe that physicians’ practices will not likely change soon. Yet, telephone triage is rapidly growing, requiring expanded patient access and increased formalization. Thus, we believe the best approach is to focus research exclusively on nurse-staffed clinical call centers and to explore ways to improve their systems. Our challenge is to get the patient to the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. Click To Tweet

Telephone Triage System Research

In 2016, I conducted an informal online survey of RNs visiting teletriage.com. The survey explored RNs general perceptions of the quality and safety of system components: standards, training, guidelines, and EMR. Respondents to this anonymous survey were encouraged to be candid. Results of the 132 respondents are combined (36 were managers/administrators and 96 were staff nurses).

My purpose was to get a general idea about clinicians’ perceptions of safety and quality of telephone triage system components. Although the survey was informal and small, there were some interesting results, discussed below. Clearly, after fifty years, there is still a need for improved system components and training in telephone triage.

Type of Facility: The largest number of respondents worked in clinics and offices. It was surprising that hospitals were ranked second, followed by clinical call centers. It is unclear where exactly in hospitals telephone triage is taking place.

Populations Served: Most nurses served both pediatric and adult ages. A small number served pediatric populations exclusively.

Standards Usage: Most respondents had standards for telephone triage; the quality is unknown.

Type of Training: Most respondents had some training, with the majority having on-the-job training, and thirty-six having on-site training. Six respondents had no training. Training appears to be variable in content and quality.

Training Quality: Respondents ranked training quality as excellent: 29; above average, 43; average, 44; fair, 7; or poor, 3. Training content is unknown—whether in clinical decision-making or operation of electronic softwarethe first being a clinical skill and the second a technological skill.

Type of Guidelines: Respondents use electronic only, 59; both paper and electronic, 32; paper only, 33; or no guidelines at all, 8. Minimally, every facility should have at least paper guidelines.

Consistent Use of Electronic Guidelines: Respondents used electronic guidelines all the time, 49; most of the time, 36; half the time, 3; or rarely, 3.

Electronic Guideline User Friendliness: Respondents ranked electronic guidelines user friendly all the time, 15; most of the time, 66; half of the time, 7; occasionally, 2; or never, none.

EHR User Friendliness: Respondents found the EHR as user friendly all the time, 13; most of the time, 61; and half the time, 9.

Telephone Triage Outcomes

Given the conditions of uncertainty and urgency in our practice, it is concerning that malpractice cases still often involve the following failures and system error:

  • Use of clinically unqualified staff to assess symptoms
  • Failure to speak directly to the patient
  • Inadequate preliminary assessments
  • Inadequate documentation
  • Inadequate training

The survey summarized above presents rudimentary evidence of existing system failures, which is defined as “Failures of systems, processes, or conditions—intended to prevent errors from occurring—that might lead people to make mistakes.” Identified system errors include “wrong person, wrong task,” “Wrong match of plan to problem,” or “Failure to use any plan” to prevent error (Institute of Medicine). What’s needed is to provide quality guidelines, quality training, or complete system components.

It is reasonable to assume that, at a minimum, safety (good outcomes) begins with using qualified staff that is supported by a complete system: What is a system? A set of detailed methods, procedures, and routines formulated to carry out a specific activity or solve a problem. Donabedian defines quality as structure and process that results in safe, quality outcomes.

Structure: Quality System Components

  • Qualified staff in adequate numbers 
  • Training program
  • Guidelines
  • Standards
  • Documentation

The Nursing Process

  • Assessment
  • Working Diagnosis
  • Plan
  • Evaluation

Outcomes: Safe outcomes are timely, that is, coming early or at the right time.

  • At the right time
  • In the right place
  • For the right reason (See 5-Tier Triage)

Right Staff and Right Stuff

If a malpractice lawsuit occurs due to patient death or harm, telephone triage expert witnesses will request to review the following components of your system:

  • Guidelines
  • Training materials
  • Job qualifications and description
  • Standards (policies and procedures)
  • Call documentation (EMR)

Two initial recommendations based on these research projects are:

  1. Clinicians should manage symptom-based calls: Using non-clinicians to manage symptom-based calls may produce an unintended consequence of error. In the interest of safety, we recommend that nurses or other clinicians take symptom-based calls directly.
  2. Improve current nurse-staffed clinical call centers: While more complete, clinical call centers still need improvement: formal standardized training and improved call center and practice standards. To date, no independent peer-reviewed research has shown electronic decision support software to be reliable or valid. Some researchers have found that nurses are not actually using the electronic guidelines as instructed. The study indicated that, even when using guidelines, nurses still under referred 10 percent of patients.

Since 1984, Sheila Quilter Wheeler, RN, MS has pioneered the field of telephone triage through guideline development, conference development, research, expert witness, and consulting work. Her company, TeleTriage Systems, is located in San Anselmo, CA

From Efficiency to Experience: Three Major Benefits of a Medical Call Center Partnership


TeamHealth Medical Call Center


A medical call center partnership contributes to organizational efficiency

By Karen Brown

Organizational efficiency is defined as the ability to implement plans using the smallest possible expenditure of resources. It is an important factor in organizational effectiveness and vital to the healthcare industry which continues to experience increasing operating costs and smaller bottom lines.

Medicare expansion and the ACA have contributed to significant increases in patient populations that are expensive to treat and provide minimal financial return. This increase can strain an organization seeking to provide adequate post-discharge care, which can result in costly avoidable readmissions.

As patient loads and associated risks increase and reimbursement decreases, the ability to achieve organizational efficiency becomes more and more challenging. However, providing the highest possible quality patient care at the lowest possible operating expense can be possible with the assistance of a medical call center. By partnering with a call center’s team of registered nurses specially trained in telephone triage, organizations can save a significant amount of time and cost associated with adding staff while reducing the risk of unnecessary readmissions and inappropriate utilization of care.

Telehealth and Related Services Are a Large Part of a Bright Future

It is no secret that telehealth services and telemedicine are becoming increasingly popular due to the financial benefits they provide. Combined with federal policy changes (MACRA and MIPS) that address care planning and risk assessment—significantly effecting reimbursement in the process—telemedicine is poised to drive more revenue from virtual care directly to hospitals and healthcare organizations. And this is just the beginning. According to a recent report from Grand View Research, the telemedicine market is expected to top $113 billion by 2025.

While telehealth currently focuses on a range of primary care services, the rising occurrences of chronic conditions, as well as the increasing demand for self-care and remote monitoring, are significant factors driving telehealth growth. Healthcare organizations that add new primary care options will be able to reduce costs and create new services, while remotely offering existing ones to more of their patient populations.

Partnering with a medical call center provides a healthcare organization with access to established chronic care, self-care, and remote monitoring programs, eliminating significant labor costs. It is vital to find a call center with outbound service offerings that include a variety of chronic care and follow-up, as well as post-discharge call programs, including prescription/medicine reconciliation, self-care plan adherence, and follow-up appointment scheduling.

Patient (and Provider) Satisfaction Equal Quality of Care

In today’s world, people have a multitude of choices when it comes to their care. Because of this, it is vital for healthcare organizations and providers to get every aspect of the patient experience right. Providing the correct medical care is not the only factor contributing to a positive experience. From the initial appointment setting call to the final communication between a patient and provider/organization, every experience contributes to the overall satisfaction and quality of care a patient receives.

One of the largest factors contributing to patient satisfaction is access to care. We live in a 24/7 world, and having access to definitive medical care always is a standard patient expectation. Providing that level of access is challenging and often costly; not providing that level of access leaves patients feeling less empowered and engaged, which in turn can lead to poor experiences and even poorer satisfaction scores. A partnership with a medical call center gives patients access to definitive medical care 24/7/365 at much lower costs.

Another factor contributing to patient satisfaction is the quality of relationship with their caregivers. Patients expect to be engaged in decision involving their care. This includes open communication with nurses and providers involved in that care. If patients do not feel as though their concerns have been heard and taken seriously, they feel less confident in the care they receive, resulting in a negative experience—even if the outcome is positive.

It is not uncommon for providers to become overwhelmed with consistently increasing workloads in a 24/7 environment. This can lead to frustration and burnout, which is often evident in their interactions with patients. Utilizing a medical call center to cover all after-hours calls carves the 24/7 access out of the provider’s core responsibilities. This is a powerful physician recruitment and retention game changer. In short, happy providers have more positive interactions with their patients, which result in higher patient engagement and satisfaction.

While no healthcare organization wants a patient to have a negative experience for any reason, there is a new factor regarding patient satisfaction that demands attention. Since the inception of value-based purchasing, the definition of a successful patient experience has been redefined. Now, 30 percent of the overall quality of care is attributed to patient satisfaction. This means patient satisfaction survey scores directly impact an organization’s bottom line. The shift to pay-for-performance also means that reimbursements are tied to the quality of care that is delivered. Hospitals that provide a higher quality of care than their peers will receive reimbursement incentives, and hospitals that provide a lower quality of care will be penalized. Hospitals that provide a higher quality of care than their peers will receive reimbursement incentives. Click To Tweet

This is perhaps the most beneficial aspect of partnering with a medical call center. Providing positive experiences for both patient and provider can drastically improve overall patient satisfaction and outcomes, leading to a higher overall quality of care and the related financial rewards.

Ultimately, the provision of appropriate, quality care to achieve positive outcomes is the goal of all healthcare organizations. Making that a possibility, while considering organizational needs, government regulations, and patient experience can be difficult and costly. Partnering with a medical call center provides access to high quality care at the lowest cost possible.

The TeamHealth Medical Call Center is the premier provider of medical call center solutions—including telephone nurse triage services. They provide services to more than 10,000 providers, health plans, home health, hospice organizations, employers, and universities across the United States. Karen Brown, RN, is the vice president of business development for the TeamHealth Medical Call Center. She has more than twenty-five years of senior management experience in healthcare.

How to Make Your Telemedicine Services Successful


TriageLogic


By Dr. Ravi Rajeha

A new study has found hospitals, specialty clinics, and other healthcare organizations are no longer leery of telemedicine and are in fact expanding to provide quality services and generate revenue. With this growth and success, there are many telemedicine options available for each organization. It is important to be aware of the factors providers must consider for telemedicine to be successful for their patients, practice, or organization.

Telemedicine Adoption: According to the 2017 Foley Telemedicine and Digital Health Survey, more than three-quarters of those surveyed are either currently using or plan to provide telemedicine services to their patients. These results are impressive when compared to their survey just three years ago where 87 percent of respondents did not expect most of their patients to be using telemedicine services by 2017. This survey is comprised of more than 100 senior executives at hospitals, specialty clinics, ancillary services, and related organizations.

Telemedicine ROI: The Foley survey illustrates that telemedicine provides a great opportunity for practices and medical organizations to see a financial return. Over 70 percent of respondents realized cost savings or ROI from their telemedicine services. Nearly a third saw a savings of more than 20 percent.

Although many companies are seeing a positive ROI, it is important to choose the right telemedicine service to be successful. There are a variety of options and selecting the right telemedicine service or software will determine the level of success.

Features to Consider: When looking for a telemedicine service provider, factor these items into your deliberations:

  • Integrated: The telemedicine software should be able to integrate seamlessly with current workflows. To ensure work is not being doubled by adding a new technology to the mix, the telemedicine software needs to be cohesive and allow data to be easily transferred.
  • Support: As with any technology, issues may arise. A successful telemedicine service should have training and support available to troubleshoot any concerns.
  • Adaptive: The only thing that is constant is change, and the medical field is the best example of this. The healthcare industry is always evolving and transforming. Whether it is regulation, new discoveries or inventions, or patient expectations, the only way to be successful is to adapt, and the telemedicine service and software should do the same. Look for a company that listens to their clients and makes upgrades to what they need.
  • Measure Success: The best way to determine the ROI of a telemedicine service is to establish a way to measure its success. Choose a platform that includes different portals for clients to look at data and analyze it.

The telemedicine field has exploded in recent years and doesn’t seem to be stopping. These are only a few factors to consider when implementing or expanding telemedicine services. It is important to do the research to find which solution will be best for your organization.

TriageLogicDr. Ravi Raheja, is the medical director at TriageLogic, which is a leader in telehealth technology and services. The company’s goal is to improve access to healthcare and reduce cost by developing technology for providers and patients, backed by high quality nurses and doctors. Today, the TriageLogic group serves over 9,000 physicians and covers over 18 million lives nationwide. Visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com  for more information.

Prepare Now to Make Next Year a Great One

A failure to plan is planning to fail

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStatBefore we say goodbye to this year and welcome in the next, we should take time to envision what we want next year to be like, to plan and to prepare so that it’s a really great year. First, I recommend you do this personally, to establish a vision and set goals for the coming year.

However, the focus of AnswerStat is not on your personal life but on your work, which is likely in a healthcare call center. Though it’s possible you’ve already prepared for next year, or maybe you hope to do so in the next couple weeks. However, I wonder if in the day-to-day crunch of call center work that you’re so focused on getting through this day that you never have time to think about what’s next. I get that. I’ve been there. It’s called the tyranny of the urgent. It’s the reality that putting out fires consumes all our time, leaving no time left to pursue what is truly important. This includes planning for future success.

Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent limit what your call center, department, shift, or team accomplishes in the coming year. To inspire your thoughts and get you started, here are some ideas to help make next year the best year yet: Capitalize on your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, pursue opportunities, and guard against threats. Click To Tweet

Celebrate Areas of Excellence: Every call center has things they do well. Don’t lose sight of these items. Instead of coasting or assuming you’ll always excel in these areas, consider two options. One is looking at ways to make these even better. And the other is taking steps to ensure they don’t slip.

Identify Areas That Need Fixing: Conversely, even the best call centers can do better. We all have flaws in our operation, processes, or human resources. Start by identifying these so you can prepare to fix them next year.

Look for Growth Potential: Though no one can predict the future with any certainty, we can look at trends and consider areas where we can grow our call center to offer new services or expand existing ones. This gives us a chance to dream. And less you consider this exercise self-serving, remember that everyone likes to be part of a growing operation. Make sure your call center is expanding and not shrinking.

Consider Pressures to Your Call Center: While there’s the potential for growth, there’s also the potential for contraction. This isn’t as exciting to think about, but it’s important to give it attention nonetheless. What issues does your call center face that could have a detrimental effect on it in the coming year? Theorize the top three pressures that could have a negative effect on your call center. Then plan to counteract them, offset them, or negate their power.

These four items are often summarized as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (also known as SWOT). Yes, I just encouraged you to conduct a SWOT analysis for your healthcare call center. But don’t look at this with foreboding; embrace it with excitement.

Then use your SWOT analysis to plan appropriately for the coming year: capitalize on your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, pursue opportunities, and guard against threats. Turn this into an action plan, establish a vision, and set goals. If you do this, I guarantee you’ll have a much better year than if you skip this critical exercise.

May this next year be your best year ever.

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.

Why, after 30 Years, I Still Look Forward to Going to Work


LVM Systems


By Mark Dwyer

With the holidays upon us, and the New Year fast approaching, now seems the perfect time to reflect on why we do what we do. I have been in the healthcare call center industry for over thirty years, nearly half my life. I did not start out expecting to work with call centers, or even in healthcare, for that matter. Back in 1986, I had never even heard of a healthcare call center—probably because, back then, they hardly existed.

The how of my entering the healthcare call center world, although interesting, is not nearly as important as why I have remained it in for most of my adult life. Anyone who works in a healthcare call center or for a healthcare call center software vendor will likely relate to what ultimately keeps me excited about my job, even years later. Although the money I have earned during my career has certainly played a motivating role, when asked why, my answer always takes a broader perspective.

Reflecting on the past thirty plus years, I remain motivated knowing my efforts have positively affected millions of peoples’ lives worldwide. This is also true of many of you. Let me explain by sharing my personal experience.

In 1986, I joined National Health Enhancement Systems (NHES), a fledgling start-up associated with the Arizona Heart Institute. During my thirteen years at NHES (later to be acquired by HBOC and then McKesson), I helped grow the company from six employees when I joined, to over 300 (with their own call center) before they sold. I then joined three former colleagues in supporting healthcare call centers through business strategy and call center process efficiency consulting services.Remember just how significant what you do each day is to the lives of the people you touch. Click To Tweet

I returned to the software vendor side in 2003 when I joined LVM Systems. At that time, LVM was still a small, sixteen-employee organization. Over the past fifteen years, I have had the pleasure of assisting in LVM’s growth to over seventy employees and to a position of prominence among healthcare call center software vendors.

This brings us to today and the reason I remain excited about my job. It is the influence afforded me to positively affect the lives of millions of people around the world. Let me explain. I have had the pleasure of helping grow two healthcare call center software companies into positions of leadership in the industry.

During that time, the numerous families of the employees at these companies have had the resources to put food on their tables, a roof over their heads, and clothes on their backs, not to mention money for little league and club sports, braces, music lessons, private schools, college tuition, and many Happy Christmases with presents under the tree.

It does not stop with just these 370 plus employees and their families. That is just the beginning. Each healthcare call center nurse, resource representative, and manager working in a healthcare call center using the products developed by NHES, McKesson, and LVM have jobs due in part to the efforts of these companies. These individuals again benefit from the wages they earn allowing them to provide for their family’s needs.

If we expand this even further, the real impact of the work I do, the work we all do, is significantly more far-reaching. Our efforts affect the lives of millions of callers helped by the healthcare call center software we use. Knowing that I have played even the smallest part in helping call center representatives in marketing call centers that facilitate enrolling callers in appropriate programs or referring them to needed physicians or services feels good.

And when I think about how nurses, in triage call centers across the country, daily avert deadly heart attacks or assist new moms in caring for their inconsolably crying infants, I know what I do is important. This is what keeps me coming to work each day, knowing that my efforts to grow and maintain viable software providers and products enables you to successfully help people.

It is this greater world-view that keeps me gladly doing my job. So, if you ever wake up and question why you go to work each day, look at the big picture and remember just how significant what you do each day is to the lives of the people you touch. Even if it is just one.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

LVM SystemsMark Dwyer is the chief operations officer of LVM Systems.

Call Center Sales Pro Specializes in the Healthcare Niche


Call Center Sales Pro, providing proven healthcare call center solutions


Call center experts help achieve results-driven outcomes for medical call centers

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is being pushed. They must accomplish more, do it better, and do it for less. This means more work, increased pressure, and lower reimbursement rates. And the call center sits at the center of this. They are in the ideal position to cost-effectively address these pain points. While doing so they can improve the level of care and enhance patient access.

Often the telephone serves as a patient’s entry-point into a health system, preparing them to receive a lifetime of healthcare services. And Call Center Sales Pro is ready to help healthcare providers navigate this ever-evolving reality for their call center.

Visionary Leadership: Call Center Sales Pro was launched in 2014 by call center industry veteran, Janet Livingston. Her initial mission was to help outsource call centers and answering services take the pain out of growing their business. Since then Call Center Sales Pro has developed into a full-service contact center consultancy. They pride themselves in addressing big picture issues for their clients. This includes operations, accounting, technology, customer service, and administration, in addition to sales and marketing.

They also expanded into the healthcare niche. The collective expertise of their team is an ideal match for the needs and opportunities afforded by the healthcare industry. “We didn’t start out focusing on healthcare,” Livingston said, “but that’s certainly where were headed. Our team of call center professionals fits great with the healthcare industry. We know how to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the call center to achieve profitable outcomes—and healthy results.” Helping patients better manage their healthcare, increasing per-patient revenue, and maximizing their lifetime value. Click To Tweet

HIPAA Compliance Training: Toward this end, Call Center Sales Pro has developed a HIPAA compliance training program. It’s designed to accomplish three things. The first is to educate healthcare call center employees about HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). Next, the course covers why this is important. Last, they stress how to follow its guidelines. This includes learning about PHI (protected health information), how to recognize it, and the essential steps to take to protect it. Critical to this is understanding how PHI is transmitted between covered entities (CE) and business associates (BA).

Livingston notes that HIPAA training is required for anyone with access to PHI. Additionally, all healthcare organizations must provide HIPAA instruction for all staff, with periodic refresher training. Call Center Sales Pro’s HIPAA compliance training program addresses these needs. It’s an online video course with a live instructor and takes about 45 to 60 minutes.

Healthcare Call Center Consulting: While their HIPAA compliance training program is a critical tool for every healthcare call center, the cornerstone of Call Center Sales Pro’s work revolves around healthcare call center consulting. They offer a full-service consultancy that specializes in addressing the needs of healthcare contact centers in today’s ever-changing environment.

Their team of consultants can assist healthcare organizations with their call center operation, customer service, and agent training. They can also address staffing, disaster recovery planning, and call center technology.

By customizing their consulting program, they can meet the specific needs of each client, which can include:

  • Add expertise to supplement the call center’s management team.
  • Optimize systems, protocols, and processes for optimal results.
  • Pursue new initiatives.
  • Solve problems that restrict the ability to capitalize on evolving opportunities.
  • Refocus call center direction and priorities.

System Optimization: A third component Call Center Sales Pro addresses for healthcare call centers focuses on call center system optimization. This specifically addresses the 1Call platform from Amtelco. Call Center Sales Pro is an expert resource in mastering this powerful technology and harnessing it to achieve maximum results.

The key outcomes that healthcare call centers can accomplish with Call Center Sales Pro as their partner include helping patients better manage their healthcare, increasing per-patient revenue, and maximizing their lifetime value. Critical to this is helping shift call centers from being a cost center to a revenue center.

In addition, Call Center Sales Pro can handle strategic planning and logistics, offer technical support and system engineering, and provide agent training and coaching. They can also address system setup, configuration, and optimization, as well as enhance medical answering service functions.

Conclusion: Call Center Sales Pro is a one-stop solutions provider for healthcare call centers.

Call Center Sales Pro, a full-service healthcare call center consultancyJanet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center industry, that offers healthcare call center consulting, system optimization, and HIPAA compliance training. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or call 800-901-7706.