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Articles from AnswerStat

How to Build an Actionable and Strategic Patient Experience Plan



By Gary Druckenmiller

In recent years, hospitals have become increasingly familiar with the merits of providing a superior experience to patients and consumers. Studies show that organizations with successful patient experience strategies see up to a 5 percent increase in new patients, a 15 percent increase in patient retention, and an 18 percent decrease in out-of-network referrals.

It’s no wonder why 81 percent of executives consider patient experience a top priority. And yet, many health systems haven’t created an actionable strategy that genuinely improves the experience across all touchpoints along the patient journey. In particular, they fail to acknowledge the importance of marketing communications and outreach in these strategies.

Even if patients are part of a vast health system, they expect experiences tailored to them as individuals throughout the care continuum. This is why health systems need the right technology in place to craft data-driven patient experience plans—messaging that directly addresses a patient’s needs both inside and outside the health system’s four walls.

By improving the patient experience with personalized communications and data-driven outreach, health systems enjoy increased loyalty and satisfaction, higher ROI, and improved margins. Here are a few strategies that health systems can employ to build an actionable, strategic patient experience plan:

Integrate the Right Technology

To design an effective patient experience strategy, health systems must first ensure that the right marketing technology is in place to reach patients at the right times, over the right channels. 

Consider the following four solutions: 

1. Healthcare CRM: A healthcare-specific customer relationship management platform (HCRM) is an absolute necessity for a successful patient experience plan. A HCRM is the centralized hub for all precision marketing. With an HCRM, healthcare marketers collect and compile data in a centralized location, monitoring important information such as recent communications, changes to demographic information, and clinical details and propensities. This information is key to crafting the hyper-personalized experiences that today’s patients expect.

In practice, a healthcare marketer may use the HCRM to understand the various touch points along the patient journey, including understanding which resources were engaged with before that first appointment was scheduled. An analysis as simple as this reveals valuable information as to which messages, channels, and tactics resonate with which demographic—and which are less effective. The longer a patient stays within the health system, the more data is integrated into their CRM profile, setting the stage for improved targeting and a better overall experience, along with the ability to apply those learnings to other consumers in the same cohort or segment. 

Patient experience recently became the centerpiece of many health systems’ strategic growth initiatives. Click To Tweet

2. Marketing Automation: A marketing automation platform orchestrates the execution of personalized engagement plans. It allows healthcare marketing teams to send messages at the ideal time following specific customer interactions or touchpoints—for example, sending an email invitation to a diabetes management seminar the day after a user downloads an e-book about Type I Diabetes on the health system’s website. It’s simply not feasible to deploy this type of patient nurturing campaign at a large scale without marketing automation software, especially since the data within a HCRM only grows more complex over time.

3. Patient Engagement Center: First impressions are everything—and often hospital call centers are the first interactions with consumers. To meet consumer expectations, call center representatives need to not only be personable, efficient, and conscientious, but they need to be proactive, demonstrating that the health system knows the caller, why they are calling, and can provide the best care. With that comes the need to prioritize first call resolution, as opposed to forcing the consumer to call back multiple times to ask follow-up questions.

To deliver proactive and world-class customer experiences, call center representatives need access to a dashboard containing all relevant caller information and proactive alerts about the caller. For existing patients, this includes details from the patient profile contained within the HCRM as well as clinical and demographic data sourced from the EHR. Other tools that provide insight into consumer data and marketing engagement history (even if the caller is not a registered patient) are also worth investing in.

4. Business Insights: With a business insights solution, healthcare marketers unlock the most valuable opportunities—such as a specific demographic, geographic market, or service line—on which to focus their initial patient experience campaigns. By examining a service line or geographic area with cross-sectional data, health systems begin to understand the basic needs and desires of this set of consumers. They can then shape lists of target consumers that fit the ideal persona, supporting informed, hyper-segmented engagement campaigns with messaging that speaks to those needs and characteristics.

With the right technology, a health system ensures messages deployed across consumer touchpoints meet each patient’s needs. Using historical data to inform outreach, marketers improve patient experience while creating a seamless, convenient approach to care.

Create Personalized Patient Experiences

Personalization is one of the most effective ways to improve patient experiences. One of the easiest ways for healthcare marketers to leverage personalization is by simply asking patients and consumers what they prefer. For example, they can indicate their preferred method of contact (such as phone, email, or text message) and set a time of day that works best to receive communication from their provider. Short online or emailed surveys are another great way for marketers to gather information about patient preferences and personalize campaigns accordingly.

Keep in mind, however, personalizing patient interactions helps build trust, but it’s important not to go too far. For example, if a consumer has passively searched online for oncology services, the call center representative should not mention their browsing history during a call. 

Use Precision Marketing to Deploy Consistent Messaging

These principles apply to acquisition and retention. Once a patient has already converted to a health system, precision marketing campaigns continue to be effective in encouraging ongoing engagement with unique content. These campaigns leverage HCRM-connected workflows that strategically guide communications, track engagements with marketing materials, and monitor a patient’s journey from, for instance, pre-screening to specialist consultation to surgical procedure.

This strategy includes integrating decision points that influence the patient’s journey based on their actions, or lack thereof. If a patient registers for an upcoming cardiology seminar, they should be included in cardiology-related emailing lists. These workflows don’t just allow the most relevant messages to be sent, they record these non-clinical engagements, and support patients in their healthcare journey.

Final Thoughts

Today’s consumers expect seamless, personalized interactions from all businesses with whom they interact—and this includes their healthcare provider. Unsurprisingly, patient experience recently became the centerpiece of many health systems’ strategic growth initiatives. Healthcare marketers play a critical role in crafting a great healthcare experience, so it’s important they employ the right tactics to ensure positive interactions throughout the patient journey.

They must tap advanced marketing technology to organize and analyze information from all aspects of the organization, both inside and outside the health system. With a comprehensive view of patient needs and demographics and a deep understanding of the experiences that they value most, health systems will enjoy improved ROI, sustainable growth, and a sharp competitive edge.

Gary Druckenmiller, Jr. is vice president of customer success at Evariant. With almost twenty-five years of digital makeover efforts behind him, he functions as a lead business strategist, a digital marketing thought leader, and a C-level executive sponsor for all Evariant enterprise clients, primarily focused on advising health system leadership of opportunistic methods to find, guide, and keep patients for life.

E-Cigarettes and Vaping



By David Thompson, MD, and Gary Marks, DO

Use of electronic cigarettes (vaping) has risen greatly over the last several years. Adult smokers have increasingly turned to e-cigs to quit or decrease tobacco smoking. An especially concerning fact is that e-cigs have become the most widely used tobacco products by youth. One in five high school students use e-cigs, and one in twenty middle schoolers. The U.S. Surgeon General declared the use of e-cigs among young people an epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an outbreak of lung injury from smoking e-cigs. As of October 1, 2019, there have been over 1,000 cases with eighteen deaths.
Telephone triage nurses should be ready to answer questions from concerned callers. Here is an overview of this important topic.

What are Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigs)?

E-cigarettes go by many names such as e-cigs, e-hookahs, vape pens, vapes, tank systems, or ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery system). E-cigarettes have three main parts: a battery, a fluid chamber, and a heating element. The battery powers the heating element and the heating element turns the liquid into vapor. Users inhale the vapor. This is why smoking e-cigs is also called “vaping.”

E-cigarettes may look like pipes, cigars, pens, regular cigarettes, or even USB flash drives. “Pod mods” are re-chargeable and have increasing popularity among teens. A popular brand is JUUL.

E-cigs may be less harmful than smoking normal cigarettes. Still, vaping does have health risks and complications. Click To Tweet

What Is in the E-cigarette Fluid?

E-cigarette fluid has three main types of chemicals:

Nicotine: Nicotine content ranges from none to 36 mg/dL.

Flavor: There are thousands of different flavors. Some flavors are chocolate, cotton candy, gummy bear, and bubble gum. Such flavors may add to the use of e-cigs and nicotine addiction in children.

Other Chemicals: Other likely harmful substances in e-cigarette vapor are propylene glycol, heavy metals (nickel, lead, tin), and possible cancer-causing chemicals. It is not easy for users to know exactly what they are vaping. There have been e-cigarette cartridges labeled “nicotine-free” that contain nicotine.

Some people use marijuana products or other drugs by vaping.

What Are the Risks and Complications?

E-cigs may be less harmful than smoking normal cigarettes. Still, vaping does have health risks and complications:

Nicotine: Nicotine is a stimulant. Nicotine is addictive and can lead to cravings. It is the same chemical that makes normal cigarettes habit-forming. Nicotine can harm the growing brain of adolescents and young adults. For those that are pregnant, nicotine can be harmful to an unborn baby.

Vaping-linked Lung Injury: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently reported an outbreak of lung injury from smoking e-cigs. The cause of this is not yet known. Most of those with lung injury used a marijuana product (THC) with their e-cig. Symptoms are cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, upset stomach, throwing up, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Symptoms appear over days to weeks.

In addition, battery failure can lead to an explosion or fire. And swallowing the e-cigarette liquid can be very harmful and even deadly, especially to children. Last, the long-term effects of vaping are not known.

Do E-cigs Help People Quit Smoking?

Many people start using e-cigs to quit or stop smoking normal cigarettes. It is not yet known if e-cigs work well for those trying to quit smoking. One study found that many smokers trying to quit regular cigarettes by using e-cigs ended up using both products. The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking.

Some Closing Recommendations

Here are some recommendations supported by the CDC:

  • Pregnant women, teens, and children should not use e-cigs.
  • If you don’t currently use e-cigs, do not start.
  • If you are currently using e-cigs to quit smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes. Talk with your doctor about the patch or other treatments.
  • Do not buy e-cigarette products off the streets.
  • Do not change or add anything to the e-cig product beyond what the manufacturer has approved.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you use e-cigs and develop a cough or have trouble breathing.

David Thompson, MD, is the adult content author at Schmitt-Thompson Clinical Content, and Gary Marks, DO, is the adult medical editor at Schmitt-Thompson Clinical Content.

Be Sure to Thank Your Staff



Let Your Call Center Employees Know You Appreciate Their Work

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

We just celebrated Thanksgiving in the United States, which is a time where we typically reflect on what we’re thankful for—when we’re not scarfing down a holiday feast. 

Do you let your staff know you appreciate them? I’m sure you’ll say yes, but what will they say? I’m not being critical, but I am seeking to prompt some deep consideration into how you thank your staff. 

I suspect you’re already making a list:

  • You provide employment, a paycheck, and a decent compensation package
  • You send a Thanksgiving card, note, or even a small bonus
  • You give them a frozen turkey or gift card
  • You serve a Thanksgiving meal for those who work on Thanksgiving
  • You pay a bonus for those who work over the holiday weekend

These things are great, but your staff has grown to expect them. These efforts at indicating gratitude, while appreciated, don’t convey that you’re truly thankful for your staff and the work they do throughout the year. If they are to realize that you appreciate them, you need to find a better way to say thank you.

I once had a boss who personally gave me my paycheck every week. Though a man of few words, he would hand me my check, look me in the eye, and say “thank you.” He did this for all twenty to thirty people in his department, without fail, every pay period. 

That was thirty years ago, but I still remember it as if it just happened. Though he was a hard man to figure out and often frustrating to work for, I had no doubt that he appreciated my efforts. His periodic, heartfelt thank you kept me motivated, even though his management style sometimes grated on my soul.

Personally thanking them every pay period will make an impression that lasts. Click To Tweet

If your efforts to thank your staff fail to communicate your appreciation, it’s time for a different approach. Why not try handing each employee their paycheck, looking them in the eye, and saying “thank you.” And if your operation is too big or your staff schedule is too varied for you to do this, do it for your direct reports and encourage them to do it for theirs.

Though thanking your staff on Thanksgiving is a great start, personally thanking them every pay period will make an impression that lasts.

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.

Use Secure Texting to Send Emails from Your Call Center


LVM Systems

Mark Dwyer

Are you incorporating technology into your communication plan? Today’s consumers, patients, and physicians have expectations about the way you communicate with them. However, be careful. In all electronic communication, be sure to meet HIPAA and HITECH standards. Regardless of the communication method you use, you must encrypt any Personal Health Information (PHI).

It is more important than ever to interact using current technology. Texts and emails play an increasingly important role in sending patients both secure and non-secure communications. These include reminders for appointments and medication refills, health information, care advice, confirmation of referrals, registrations, and other notifications. Not only does this increase consumer, patient, and physician satisfaction, but these electronic methods increase the efficiency of the call center.

Advantages

Some of the advantages include:

  • Electronic communication—whether text or email—arrives quickly, usually within one to two minutes.
  • The message contains clear, direct written communication and instructions.
  • Patients and consumers can refer to the information or instructions, which they can review whenever needed.
  • Reduces repetitive phone calls or relying on memory or recall of the instructions.
  • Eliminates the consumer’s or patient’s need to write down the instructions or information given.
  • Reassurance for the consumer or patient as they can read and refer to the information at their leisure.
Communication continues to change, and we must embrace it.  Click To Tweet

Applications

More and more physicians and medical staff are requesting that call centers text them with answering service requests and patient callbacks and updates. These are becoming key areas for the call center to use secure texting or messaging to communicate with patients or medical staff.

Another growing use is to send secure emails or texts to the patient regarding the care advice given during a triage call. When doing so, remember these transmissions must be HIPAA compliant. Therefore, require the physician or patient to enter their last name and a password or challenge word before receiving the message.

An application often used in triage call centers is sending health information to a patient when they are not calling about a symptom-based issue but instead have a general health question, for example, chickenpox. In this scenario, the triage nurse can send the information via secure text or email to the caller.

Call center staff can also text the physician via the software when the provider needs to call the call center or to inform the physician that they need to call a patient. These outbound messages also work with answering services and on-call scheduling.

Hospitals are also using texting and email for nonclinical reasons. As an example, if there is a valid email address on the consumer record, many will email class registration and physician referral confirmation letters to their consumers. If the email address is not valid or if there is a misspelling in the email address, the software can send the confirmation letters to a generic email address that a manager reviews daily. In these cases, the manager prints the attached pdf version of the confirmation letter then sends it via postal mail.

Finally, creative call centers equipped to handle calls from the hearing impaired are now using secure text messaging. In this application, the triage nurse can send care advice associated with the guidelines used to the patient. One call center reported that a hearing-impaired patient cried upon receiving the care advice in a readable format.

Communication continues to change, and we must embrace it. We are a text and email society. And texts and emails not going away. So embrace this valuable resource.

LVM Systems logo

Mark Dwyer is a veteran of the healthcare call center industry and serves as COO of LVM Systems.

Vendor Spotlight: Call Center Sales Pro


Call Center Sales Pro, providing proven healthcare call center solutions


Call Center Sales Pro Helps Healthcare Call Centers Achieve Better Outcomes

In 2014 Janet Livingston formed Call Center Sales Pro (CCSP) to help outsource call centers and telephone answering services. Since then the business expanded rapidly to cover all aspects of call center operation, with a focus on the healthcare call center industry and medical answering services.

Here are some of the key services CCSP provides to the healthcare call center industry.

CCSP is a reliable, full-service call center consultancy that specializes in healthcare call centers. Click To Tweet

HIPAA Training

HIPAA compliance training by CCSP will educate your healthcare call center employees about HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), why it’s important, and how to follow its guidelines. This includes learning about PHI (protected health information), how to recognize it, and the essential steps to protect it. Also covered is the critical understanding into how PHI is transmitted between covered entities (CE) and business associates (BA).

This online video course has a live instructor and takes about 45 to 60 minutes. To avoid costly litigation and protect patients’ health information, HIPAA training is essential to your healthcare workforce.

Here is the key information about HIPAA training and certification:

  • HIPAA training is required for anyone with access to PHI.
  • Organizations must provide HIPAA education for all staff, with periodic refresher training.
  • CCSP’s online video course has a live instructor and takes about 45 to 60 minutes.

Healthcare Call Center Consulting

CCSP provides full-service call center consulting to help healthcare call centers with almost any facet of their operations, not just phone answering. Their professional call center consultants can assist organizations with call center operations, accounting and finance, IT, customer service, training, human resources, call center acquisitions and mergers, and other administrative tasks, as well as sales and marketing.

To help you make your call center better, CCSP can:

  • Add expertise to supplement your management team.
  • Optimize systems, protocols, and processes for optimal results.
  • Pursue new opportunities.
  • Solve problems that hold you back.
  • Change the direction of your call center.

CCSP is a reliable, full-service call center consultancy that specializes in healthcare call centers. Their team of professional 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.

1Call Infinity System Optimization

The preferred call center system provider for many leading healthcare facilities is 1Call, a division of Amtelco. And CCSP, a contracted services provider, is an expert resource on mastering this powerful technology and harnessing it to achieve maximum results. Their contracted services can provide:

  • Strategic planning and logistics
  • Technical support and system engineering
  • Agent training and coaching
  • System setup, configuration, and optimization
  • Medical answering service functions

With CCSP as your strategic call center partner, you can expect these highly sought-after outcomes for your healthcare call center:

  • Help patients better manage their healthcare.
  • Increase per-patient revenue.
  • Maximize patient lifetime value.
  • Move your call center from being a cost center to a revenue center.

CCSP Fuzion Data Portal

Today’s leading call center systems produce an array of detailed reports to help management make informed decisions. Unfortunately call center managers and supervisors often spend too much time tracking down this information, merging it from disparate sources, and trying to make sense of it.

In the worst-case scenario, they simply ignore the data. That’s why CCSP developed CCSP Fuzion, to provide easily actionable information to healthcare call center management.

The CCSP Fuzion data portal provides one-stop management resource for call center supervisors and managers. It was developed by CCSP, who understands the importance of timely data presented in easy-to-digest formats. CCSP Fuzion comes with key reporting tools and evaluation instruments as standard components of this comprehensive portal:

  • Message logs
  • Customized agent QA and report cards
  • Agent productivity stats
  • Scheduling data
  • Center KPI and SLA metrics

Call center leaders need accurate tools that allow them to measure and manage in real time. They also need to be able to look at historical metrics to make solid decisions on running a call center. Everything call center leaders need to effectively gauge agent and call center performance is included in CCSP Fuzion.

Find an Outsource Call Center

CCSP offers a call center and medical answering service locator service. If you need a healthcare call center or medical answering service, CCSP can find the perfect match to meet your exact needs. With CCSP’s locator service, you can remove the hassle of vendor selection, tap the benefits of superior call center consulting services, and enjoy the convenience of a one-stop consulting solution.

If you need a call center or medical answering service provider to handle your facility’s communication needs at an economical price, then let CCSP take care of this for you. Because they have access to a wide network of providers, their call center locator service can find you the best provider for your needs and budget.

Call Center Sales Pro, a full-service healthcare call center consultancyContact CCSP for a free, no-obligation consultation on how they can help your healthcare call center or medical answering service. Learn more at 800-901-7706, contactus@ccsp.us, and www.ccsp.us.

Combating Alarm Fatigue


1Call-call center

Presented by 1Call, a Division of Amtelco

How Alarm Fatigue Affects Staff and Patients

If you step into any in-patient hospital or critical care center, you’ll notice one thing in common: near-constant, loud, piercing alarms. Of course, the purpose of an alarm is to get someone’s attention immediately when something abnormal occurs. One study records an average of 1.2 alarms heard by a nurse every sixty seconds or as many as 359 alarms per medical procedure. Few alarms are of any clinical value, making them frustrating to hospital staff and, in the worst cases, harmful to patients. Overall, frequent false alarms and noise levels do little to foster a healing, comforting environment.

Alarm fatigue results in increased response time or decreased response rate due to experiencing excessive alarms. Click To Tweet

The ECRI Institute listed alarm fatigue, or missed alarms, as the #7th Health Technology Hazard of 2019. An average nurse in the ICU has to deal with three dozen kinds of alarm sounds, but several studies support the fact that most people cannot differentiate between more than six different alarm sounds.

Imagine you’re a nurse who has just sterilized your hands to administer care to one patient, and you hear an alarm sound from another room. Immediately, you’re distracted from your task at hand. You must quickly identify the alarm type from where you’re standing and decide if it’s more important than the care you were about to provide. Regardless, you’re distracted from the task at hand.

To complicate matters further, many alarms are non-critical issues or irrelevant to the specific patient. In fact, recent studies estimate as many as 90 percent of alarms in critical care settings are either false or clinically irrelevant. This leads healthcare providers to believe that many devices are crying wolf, delaying practitioner response time when a real emergency occurs. This is alarm fatigue at its core: a delayed response, or no response at all. Sometimes, habituation results in some alarms not even being heard.

It’s no surprise that alarm fatigue is a severe challenge for healthcare providers. Alarm fatigue results in increased response time or decreased response rate due to experiencing excessive alarms. When nurses do not respond quickly enough to the few alarms that need response, patient care is affected. The Joint Commission made alarm management a National Patient Safety Goal over five years ago and has prioritized it every year. There were more than 560 alarm-related deaths in the United States from 2005 to 2008, and by 2012, the number was reduced to 80 deaths over a three-year period.

Strategies to Reduce Alarm Fatigue

Any time spent responding to false alarms is time that could have been spent focusing on patient care. Here are two strategies to reduce alarm fatigue: 

1. Reducing false alarms by considering the clinical context: A standardized set of alarms for every patient is one of the primary contributors to excessive, unnecessary alarms. These can be tweaked for the needs of the patient during check-in. For example, a sharp increase in blood sugar of a diabetic patient may be extremely important and time-sensitive, while the same alert in a non-diabetic patient isn’t a cause for concern. By taking the vital signs of the individual patient into consideration when setting alerts, practitioners reduce the number of false alarms from the start. One solution to this challenge is a dedicated messaging platform that allows for electronic health record (EHR) integration.

By taking a few moments to set up the customized alarms relevant to the patient’s characteristics, the frequency of unnecessary or unimportant alarms decreases significantly. Additionally, when a care team knows that alerts are chosen precisely, individual practitioners respond more carefully when alarms sound.

2. Alarm Priority Systems and Customization: Clinical alerting that routes alarms directly to practitioners’ devices reduce sensory overload for both patients and care providers. Patient care is improved when important alarms get a response as quickly as possible, but patient care is also improved by a restful, quiet healing environment. By funneling the important alarms directly to the physician or nurse on-call, the number of distracting, audible alarms on the floor decreases to only the most critical. 

A messaging platform that integrates with the nursing call center helps triage low-priority alerts to unit coordinators. Only actionable alarms relevant to the nurse’s unit are sent directly to them. More importantly, directing all alarms to one specific device reduces the cognitive load and number of distractions a nurse experiences during a shift.

Additionally, funneling alerts to one device means that the care provider can identify the type and location of the alarm immediately: without having to memorize dozens of alert sounds, drop their current task, or rush to another end of the unit.

Secure Texting: Closing the Gap to Create Effective HIPAA Compliant Communication


TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

Once a triage nurse has done an initial evaluation on a patient, there are times when the protocol or circumstances require a physician to get involved. In these instances, it is critical for the nurse to get in touch with the provider who is on call, securely and effectively, to communicate the needs of the patient. This requires relaying protected health information, or PHI, securely.

Traditionally, the nurse will page the doctor to call their phone number. The physician calls back, and the nurse verbally relays the relevant information. There are several drawbacks to this option:

It is critical for the nurse to get in touch with the provider who is on call, securely and effectively, to communicate the needs of the patient. Click To Tweet
  • It is time-consuming for the doctor. They must call back and verbally listen to each case.
  • There is no confirmation if the provider received the page, which can lead to a delay in care if the nurse does not follow up closely.
  • The doctor may be involved in a critical procedure or another call and does not know how urgent the request is from the nurse.

Secure texting was created to overcome these drawbacks and provide an efficient way to transfer information that does not hinder daily workflow.

With secure texting, the provider gets a notification from the nurse. The nurse can send protected health information securely. The provider can read the message, and the nurse gets a notification confirming that the message was received and read. This approach supplies the provider with detailed written information as well as allowing them to evaluate the urgency for the call so they can determine the proper callback time and plan before they contact the triage nurse.

While there are many secure messaging platforms available—almost every one of them requires the provider to install and set up an app on their phone. It also requires ongoing support for the app. When the doctor changes phones, the operating system or app needs to be updated.

Providers who are looking for secure texting methods should find platforms that allow for all the features of secure texting and chatting with the nurse, but without an app required on the doctor’s phone. With these types of platforms, nurses can auto-populate the patient information and send the provider’s cell phone a link (with no patient data). 

The provider follows the link and securely accesses the confidential message from the nurse. The provider can then call the nurse back, call the patient back, or securely chat with the nurse. The nurse receives a notification both when the message is delivered and when it is read; this provides continuity of care and prevents any lapse in communication. The messages and secure chat for the nurse are documented in the triage system for future reference.

Providers love this type of service because it does not require any setup on their part and takes less than five minutes to train on the system, which can quickly be done by the practice manager at the provider’s convenience. There is no impact to the service if they change phones or have updates to their device. Setup is quick and easy since there is no app to download and register.

TriageLogic

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive triage solution includes integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 7,000 physicians and covers over 18 million lives nationwide. For more information visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com.

How Triage Nurses Can Help Patients with Mental Health Conditions


TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja

Telephone triage nurses have a more important role than ever before. Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016), which is why many adults with mental illnesses go untreated (60 percent according to a report from USA Today). This article addresses the growing concerns for mental health awareness and education.

Telephone triage nurses are often the first point of contact for those struggling with a mental illness and can help a patient recognize the need for intervention. So, what can telephone triage nurses do to help?

Provide Accurate and Timely Triage

Telephone triage nurses are often the first point of contact for a patient with mental health symptoms and as a result, nurses should be patient, flexible, and have great communication and listening skills. The nurse must combine both clinical judgment and emotional connections to assess the patient’s situation to identify possible mental health issues. The telephone triage nurse’s role is to obtain the most accurate medical history and assessment to rule out medical symptoms that require immediate attention.

Remove Biases That Can Impact the Triage Process

Good telephone triage nurses always remove any biases and stereotypes. Having preconceived notions and distinctive sets of thinking can lead to error in the treatment of patients.

Assess the Environment

The Emergency Nurses Association recommends treating patient agitation as if it’s “the chest pain of behavioral emergencies.” Key phrases such as “I understand” can help place a patient at ease and give them the space to talk to the nurse. Throughout the call, the nurse should assess the patient’s environment and resources available to determine the most appropriate care plan.

Manage Uncertainty

Not all patients will be able to accurately describe their condition, history, medical conditions, or other pertinent information. It is up to the nurse to decipher this uncertainty.

  • Assess the situation: How is the patient presenting? Is his or her speech coherent? Are they answering questions appropriately? Hallucinating? Delusional? Rambling?
  • Address the whole patient: One common occurrence within mental health care is “diagnostic overshadowing.” This happens when the focus on a patient’s mental health diagnosis overshadows their physical health needs.
  • Be an advocate: Triage nurses are the first to communicate with, provide support to, and manage patients with psychiatric or mental health issues. Acting as a patient’s initial advocate can be life-changing for that patient

In Conclusion

Triage nurses always have the callers’ safety in mind. They combine both clinical judgment and emotional connections to assess the patient’s situation and to identify possible mental health issues. Nurses need to know the local emergency assistance numbers in case they need to reach out for more assistance. Just talking about their problems for a length of time can help a great deal for many callers who might be suffering from a mental illness.

TriageLogic

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2005, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive triage solution includes integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 7,000 physicians and covers over 18 million lives nationwide. For more information visit www.triagelogic.com and www.continuwell.com.

Vendor Spotlight on AccessNurse (formerly TeamHealth Medical Call Center) How and Why We Rebranded Our Company


AccessNurse, A TeamHealth Company

As the TeamHealth Medical Call Center evolved over time, we outgrew our brand identity and core message, which is a natural part of every dynamic, growing business. We’re excited to share with you our new look and brand. 

Don’t get us wrong. We love our old brand and people loved it too, but it just doesn’t reveal the entire picture of who we are today and how we’ve evolved during the past several years. We’re not only changing our logo, but also our messaging and how we show up in the marketplace. 

Why We Changed Our Brand

Before we dive into our new logo, come with us behind the brand and allow us to explain how we got where we are today. We want to share with you the story of what we value as a company and strive to do for our clients.

Our previous logo mainly reflected our parent company, TeamHealth, and although they are a major part of our story, it’s just one strand of the fabric of our brand’s DNA. We created our medical call center in 1996 primarily for the purpose of providing support to TeamHealth physicians. It wasn’t long before TeamHealth recognized the need for medical call center services at a national level, so we began to grow and acquire external clients.

More than two decades later, we have evolved to become a premiere provider of medical call center solutions, providing services to more than 15,000 providers in individual and group practices, hospital systems, universities, community health centers, and other medical organizations across the country. Our brand today is more dynamic than it has ever been, so we felt the time was right to make the change. 

The new AccessNurse name is a textual representation of what we provide, believe in, and represent: providing clients and patients with 24/7 access to definitive nurse care.  Click To Tweet

Introducing AccessNurse: Behind the AccessNurse Name and Logo

Access Nurse

Since our conception, providing access to medical care has been the underlying theme and pulse of the call center. It’s woven into every fabric of our brand: from our story to how we treat our clients and their patients. 

We feel our new AccessNurse name is a textual representation of what we provide, believe in, and represent: providing clients and patients with 24/7 access to definitive nurse care. We also supplemented our name with the tagline, “A TeamHealth Company” to reinforce our alignment with TeamHealth and the medical integrity, experience, and resources that go along with that relationship.

The challenge with every logo design is finding a symbol that visually represents your core message. The icon we chose is a representation of the multiple solutions we use to provide a comprehensive and customized call center solution to meet each client’s unique needs.

We wanted our new logo to pop—something that jumps out and makes a statement. We chose to use multiple colors instead of one. While each color has its own meaning, they also represent the variety of services we provide. We share three of the icon colors with TeamHealth to maintain a solid visual connection to our parent company. The fourth color—the burnt orange—represents our evolution as an independent medical call center and how our brand will continue to evolve and differentiate itself over time.

Another challenge in logo design is creating something with meaning behind it. Besides the rings and color variations, if you look closely at the center of the icon, you’ll notice the shape of a medical cross in the negative space. It’s a subliminal message that reinforces our primary purpose: providing high quality, compassionate medical care with uncompromised standards and unfaltering compassion. It’s the promise we make to every client.

There you have it. Our new brand identity and logo design. We hope you’re as excited as we are about the new look and the evolution behind it. For more information about our solutions and how AccessNurse can meet your organization’s needs, please contact us at 844-277-6312.

Matt Miller is the marketing coordinator with AccessNurse. Learn more at their new website: www.accessnurse24.com.

The Call Center’s Role in Behavior Counseling


1Call-call center

By Nicole Limpert

The term mental health refers to the condition of a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. The state of one’s mental health affects how they feel, think, and behave. At times, an individual may experience one or more adverse mental health concerns. Mental health issues are common and treatable. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI), one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness in any given year.

It is crucial that people have access to mental health services. Mental illness is a disease and sometimes it may cause an individual to experience behavior that poses an immediate threat to themselves, to people around them, or to property. Unfortunately, research indicates that roughly two-thirds of people in the United States, with diagnosable mental health conditions, do not receive services.

Leveraging communication and health technologies together makes individuals, families, and communities more connected to mental health care. Click To Tweet

Barriers to mental health treatment are being reduced by creating a network of care through technology. Call centers provide a critical service in this endeavor by using state-of-the-art communication systems to improve the state of mental health care.

Barriers to Mental Health Treatment

Many studies and surveys have uncovered why most Americans with mental health conditions do not receive care. The most common reasons discovered include financial hardships, racial and cultural differences and misunderstandings, lack of mental health services, and social stigma.

To better understand how people experience these challenges in the real world, here are some ways people who live in rural communities may experience these obstacles:

  • Transportation Hardship: Access to care may require time off work and lost wages for long-distance travel and/or coordinating and paying for transport if a reliable vehicle isn’t available (low-cost public transport usually isn’t an option).
  • Absence of Culturally Competent Care: According to the Morbidity and Mortality Week Report (MMWR) published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November 2017, more than twenty percent of rural residents identify as American Indians or persons of color. Multiple studies indicate that racially and ethnically diverse populations contend with language and cultural barriers when accessing healthcare.
  • Shortage of Mental Health Professionals: Rural and low-income areas have the lowest percent of behavioral health workers in the United States, due in part to billing restrictions and low provider reimbursement rates, especially for Medicaid, which has higher enrollment in rural populations.
  • Lack of Anonymity: It can be difficult to maintain privacy in close-knit, rural communities. Many people choose to suffer with their condition(s) instead of seeking help because of the social stigma associated with mental illness.

Crisis Call Center Care

Telehealth is helping to overcome barriers and increase access to mental health care. Crisis call centers connect those who are experiencing a mental health event with behavioral health professionals and are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Many call centers offer online chat, text communication, and real-time interpretation services (including American Sign Language via video chat) as well. Some specialized centers even have software specifically designed to dispatch mobile crisis teams to people in need of more intense treatment. These integrated technologies enable people to receive professional care in-person, in the privacy of their own homes.

Call center managers can track outcomes using reporting technology and are able to see if and when a caller received services from a mental health facility for ongoing care.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call centers are a critical part of the system that makes up the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) network. This kind of crisis service system can provide Level Five “Close and Fully Integrated” care by implementing an integrated suite of software applications.

According to the NSPL, the components of this system are:

  • Status Disposition for Intensive Referral: A comprehensive list of people who are waiting for care, including information about their wait-time and location.
  • 24/7 Outpatient Scheduling: Crisis call center staff have access to electronic appointment information.
  • Shared Bed Inventory Tracking: Access to information about how many beds are available in an area or state, where they are located, and what type of care a person can receive at that location.
  • High-Tech, GPS-enabled Mobile Crisis Dispatch: Information about the location of the closest available mobile care team.
  • Real-Time Performance Outcomes Dashboards: Provides analytics information regarding operator workflows and performance to indicate the speed people are receiving help.

Connections Save Lives

Studies unequivocally show the use of integrated communication technology is providing better access to mental health treatment. Current health technology solutions are being enhanced with the use of mental health apps for more accurate data that leads to customized care. Telehealth technology provides a clear path to help coordinate this care and improve mental health outcomes.

Leveraging communication and health technologies together makes individuals, families, and communities more connected to mental health care. This creates a network of support to build a stronger and more mentally healthy society.

1Call

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.