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Articles from AnswerStat

How Telehealth Employers Can Ensure Effective Communication with Remote Staff

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Presented by 1Call

Traditionally, remote work for healthcare positions was limited to medical billing, coding, and transcription. But in 2020, workers in all industries, including healthcare, were challenged to find ways to work remotely and still maintain the same level of productivity, security, and commitment to quality customer and patient care. 

Although the sudden shift to working remotely and working from home was initially disruptive, recent studies now show that remote workers can actually be more efficient than before. Many remote workers even boast higher morale and job satisfaction. Yet if remote workers are managed poorly or made to use inefficient technology, then communication breaks down and productivity and morale take giant hits. 

To ensure effective communication with remote workers now and in the future, healthcare organizations of all sizes must have the right management mindset and the right technology in place.

Remote Work Boosts Capacity

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how remote work and communication technology can reduce disease transmission among patients and medical teams without reducing capacity. Telemedicine enables more physicians to care for patients from a safe distance, allowing quarantined workers with mild symptoms to keep working. Doctors can provide immediate consults from afar. Shifting call center operators to remote settings even increases a healthcare organization’s physical capacity by creating additional space for triage or other forms of patient care.

Remote Work Isn’t Just for Desk Jobs

Remote work has many advantages for healthcare organizations, and not just for roles involving billing and administration. Pharmacists can review and enter online prescriptions. Nurses can provide afterhours triage. Clinical case educators can train nurses on new care procedures without having to gather in the same place. Care teams, doctors, nurses, and non-clinical staff can check in with each other remotely, as long as their technology is HIPAA compliant and secure. 

Communication Presents the Biggest Challenge to Remote Work

When teams aren’t in the same physical space, communication breakdowns are more likely to happen, especially if it isn’t clear whether a message has been received or how urgent it is. Important emails or messages can get lost among general updates. Tone of voice can be mistaken, especially when an urgent message is being conveyed. Personal devices used to access secure information can be compromised. Data is siloed as employees switch from one app to the next. When extra work must be done to keep records up to date between apps, errors are made. Productivity plummets along with morale.

Given the importance and difficulty of accurate, timely communication, how do you ensure your teams communicate effectively while they’re remote? Here are some tips:

Streamline communication devices and platforms: Communication technology must equip healthcare workers, not hinder them. Maximize every minute that physicians spend with their patients or communicating with the rest of the care team. Take the complication out of staying in touch by using a HIPAA-compliant secure messaging app that can be used on mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and desktops. Allowing staff to use their own devices also simplifies the learning curve, resulting in faster adoption of the communication technology.

Make quick communication updates easy and intuitive: Sometimes, long replies aren’t feasible, especially in the fast-paced world of medicine. Make it easy for your team to give each other the immediate replies they need to be efficient and accurate. Look for platforms that offer customizable, quick replies that can be sent with just a few taps or clicks. 

Set clear on-call times: Automatically sync your communication platform with your staff’s schedule. This will make it easier for your staff to know and respect each other’s on-call times. It will promote a healthy work-life balance and avoid the frustration of wondering who is available.

Build trust: Create a culture that trusts each other to answer messages when they’re received. You can do this by selecting a platform that displays when messages have been delivered, if they have been read, and what their urgency level is. Don’t contribute to alarm fatigue by inundating your employees with irrelevant or non-urgent messages.

Integrate with EHR to decrease data entry: Reducing the number of places data needs to be entered improves efficiency and accuracy. Your communication platform should sync with your organization’s EHR (electronic health record). This way, physicians can check lab results from another location, pharmacists can order prescriptions remotely, and surgeons can verify schedules ahead of time.

Insist on security and HIPAA compliance: While some HIPAA rules related to telehealth were relaxed in 2020, they may tighten up in 2021 and beyond. Instead of requiring your staff to take home additional secure devices, choose a platform that runs securely on their personal devices. Be sure to select a solution that offers end-to-end encryption of all messages and can be locked remotely in case it is lost or compromised. 

Move to the cloud: An on-premises-only solution limits your ability to shift workers to remote settings. Your staff should be able to securely access the data they need wherever they are. Storing information on the cloud will also reduce the need for on-site server maintenance. Your care teams can have synchronous, secure access to their patients’ data, wherever they are.

Summary

The ideal remote workers are self-starters who can focus on work despite the distractions inherent in working off-site. And the best remote managers are those who understand how to intentionally foster connection and communication without micromanaging. Last, invest in technology that is flexible enough to work with your staff and support your team’s unique capabilities and needs. 

Vendor Spotlight on TriageLogic

TriageLogic

New Age in Healthcare: Telephone Nurse Triage and Remote Patient Monitoring

In 2007, Ravi Raheja, MD and Charu Raheja, Ph.D. founded TriageLogic with the purpose of using modern nurse telehealth technology and medical expertise to improve access to healthcare. The goal of TriageLogic is to facilitate care over the phone and ensure everyone receives the same standard of care regardless of where they live. The company offers nurse triage software solutions, outsourced nurse triage services, and remote patient monitoring services. Additionally, TriageLogic has mobile technology, which allows patients to contact nurses directly. 

Ravi Raheja serves as the medical director and COO and oversees all nursing and technology operations in the company. He helps to ensure superb quality patient care and provides customized solutions to both the software and the service clients. 

Over the last fourteen years, TriageLogic has stayed true to its mission and continues to provide innovative nurse telehealth technology. As healthcare has evolved, TriageLogic has continued to adapt and release new product lines to meet the changing needs of the industry.

The following lists some of the solutions available:

Nurse Triage On-Call

TriageLogic maintains one of the largest and most sophisticated URAC accredited nurse triage systems in the United States. Nurses use their proprietary software to evaluate symptoms presented by patients using standardized Schmitt-Thompson protocols. The software also allows an elevated level of custom workflows and orders for each practice. Nurses can share handouts with patients on behalf of doctors, and doctors can communicate securely with nurses and patients using HIPAA-compliant texting. In 2020, the company quickly ramped up its services and software implementation to help clients, as TriageLogic observed a call volume increase by as much as 35 percent due to COVID-19. The company also worked with organizations to set up emergency hotlines.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

As monitoring technologies continue to gain traction, the healthcare industry views RPM as a way to help control the cost of care for those with chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, COPD, asthma, and diabetes. It also provides a reliable source of additional income for physician practices and healthcare organizations. 

However, the amount of data generated by monitoring devices is vast and requires a significant investment of time. TriageLogic has partnered with several device companies to create a full end-to-end monitoring program where clinical and non-clinical staff monitors the device data on behalf of doctors. 

The program makes it easy for doctors to monitor their chronically ill patients without adding administrative or clinical burden to their staff. TriageLogic can also create specific protocols for nurses to use based on devices and patient conditions. Remote patient monitoring provides accessible, affordable care for patients that both saves time and increases revenue for doctors. 

Clinical Call Center Software Solution 

TriageLogic offers customized software for organizations and call centers to manage patient phone calls. The software includes standard protocols by Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Thompson, and it offers several additional modules that can be added based on the needs of the organization. The software can also easily be added to the existing call center patient management system. 

Some of the benefits of the clinical call center software include training sessions with a triage expert, 24/7 IT support, secure data centers, mirror-image duplicate servers, and built-in disaster recovery. All software is web-based, so there is no installation required. Additionally, the software allows custom orders for practices. There is also an option to include a mobile application to better communicate with patients. TriageLogic also offers email and text message handouts for both Schmitt-Thompson protocols and care advice. 

Finally, they have a dedicated call center manager nurse director who does all the training for their clients. When a patient calls, the nurse enters symptom keywords to quickly access the correct protocol. The nurse uses a protocol checklist to ask all the right questions and direct the patient to the appropriate level of care. As the nurse handles the call, the telephone triage system documents all the details. It’s that easy.

Nurse Triage Software for Doctor Offices with Up-To-Date Protocols

MyTriageChecklist is a web-enabled software for practices to standardize how nurses handle and document patient phone calls. It takes less than an hour to implement, does not store any sensitive patient information, and offers an easy-to-use interface to ensure nurses ask and consistently document all relevant questions related to patient symptoms. Their director of nursing trains practice nurses and answers questions for clients during regularly scheduled training and review sessions. 

The MyTriageChecklist contains standardized triage protocols by Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Thompson, including COVID-19, which is updated in real-time. 

Reporting Portal

Lastly, all TriageLogic solutions come with a robust reporting portal to provide in-depth analytics on the outcomes from patient interaction. TriageLogic aims to stay ahead of the demands of healthcare and create ready-made and easy to implement solutions to continue helping providers give the best possible care to their patients.

TriageLogic is committed to improvement and aims to educate. The company’s Learning Center includes courses, videos, and additional reading materials for nurse training and for public benefit. The courses include case studies and call center data collected by the company’s call center.

TriageLogic

TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-led provider of high-quality telehealth services, nurse triage, triage education, remote patient monitoring, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive triage solution includes integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 9,000 physicians and covers over 20 million lives nationwide.

Who Signs Your Paycheck?

Knowing Who You Work for Helps You Do a Better Job

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Do you know who signs your paycheck? Whose signature is it that authorizes payment for the work you do? This, of course, is a theoretical question because most workers today receive their compensation electronically. It shows up in their bank account each payday, without a knowledge of who authorized the transfer.

When I ask who signs your paycheck, however, I don’t mean in a literal sense but in a broader, holistic way. That is, who is responsible for the money you make? Who do you work for? Let’s consider the options:

Your Employer

First on the list is the company you work for, your employer. They hired you, trained you, and pay you for your work. Regardless of the size of the organization you work for, however, there are numerous facets to employment.

First is your boss, and the managers and supervisors she has in place to oversee your work. Larger organizations have a hierarchy. There is your bosses’ boss and maybe even their boss. There could be officers and a Board of Directors. A corporation has stockholders, who own the company. You work for them all. In effect, each one signs your paycheck.

What about your coworkers? In a well-functioning organization, everyone works together to meet a common goal: serving callers. And if you’re in a position of authority, you have people working under you. In a way, you work for them, too, by providing support, encouragement, and direction. If they succeed in their jobs, you succeed in yours.

Your Clients

If you’re employed in an outsource call center, where you handle calls for other companies, you work for them too. Serve them well to retain their business, and you will continue to have a job. Serve them poorly, and they’ll cancel service. If this happens too often, your future employment is at risk. In this way, you work for your clients as much as you work for your employer.

Your Callers

Regardless of the type of call center you’re in, you work for your callers too. Without callers, you would have nothing to do. They’re critical to your ongoing employment success as well. 

Though most people who work in call centers have an inherent desire to do their best to help callers, not everyone is so service-oriented. Do your best to take care of them, which is what your company hired you to do. Then you will continue to have a job.

You

In addition to your employer, clients, and callers, you also work for yourself. You work to earn a living. It’s in your best interest to handle calls with excellence, thereby keeping your job.

Conclusion

In practice, you don’t work for one person, but for many. They are who signs your paycheck. Though there’s an obvious priority, strive to give your best work to each one of them, including yourself.

Don’t let this thought of working for everyone overwhelm you. Instead let it motivate you to give your best to your job every day, on every call.

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

Remote Patient Monitoring and the Future of Remote Nurse Triage

TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is on track to be the future of healthcare, especially as the number of chronic care patients and the cost of healthcare increases annually. RPM is the use of technology to gather patient health data from an individual. A clinic or nurse call center electronically evaluates the information. 

RPM is starting to gain traction by many in the medical field because it improves patient care. Most of these devices can capture data that the patient does not necessarily observe. These regular readings give meaningful information that can help providers see the bigger picture when it comes to a patient’s condition and outcome. 

This technology, usually in the form of a device that can go home with a patient, can monitor important health factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and respiratory rate. It allows doctors and clinicians to regularly check patient vitals before a patient presents a symptom that would require an office visit. 

Remote triage nurses monitor patient data and ensure patient safety. After the patient goes home with their device, these nurses monitor all the health information it provides. Non-clinical staff make sure patients use the device properly and call then back if the data is not coming in as expected. Nurses review patient data and contact patients if they see concerning information. 

They ask patients questions to determine if physician intervention is needed. They also provide additional information or ask questions based on individualized physician instructions. Non-clinical and clinical staff are a bridge from patient to doctor and they alleviate the burden on provider.

In the United States, six in ten adults in the United States suffer from some form of a chronic disease, such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. Chronic diseases are responsible for 75 percent of the 3.5 trillion dollars spent on healthcare each year. Overall, it’s estimated that widespread adoption of remote patient monitoring could save the U.S. as much as $6 billion annually.

For doctors and medical organizations, this translates into improved patient care while at the same time giving providers the ability to increase their annual revenue per patient. First, the regular monitoring of patient vitals provides efficient scheduling of follow up visits when necessary based on abnormal readings. Second, CMS reimburses doctors for the cost of the RPM device and for the time it takes to monitor patient vitals. The reimbursement amount allows doctors to earn extra income each month even after considering the costs of outsourcing the monitoring. 

RPM is on the forefront of healthcare. With the ability to closely monitor chronic patients in a safe, cost-effective manner, RPM is one of the fastest growing medical technologies in the medical field. The goal is to help both patients and physicians by providing tools to improve care while decreasing the burden on physicians. 

TriageLogic

Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2007, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-lead provider of high-quality telehealth services, remote patient monitoring, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive solutions include integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 9,000 physicians and covers over 20 million lives nationwide.

The Future of Hospital Contact Centers

1Call, a division of Amtelco

By Nicole Limpert

Even though the Oxford English Dictionary first published and recognized the phrase “call center” in 1983, the origins of call centers date back to the 1960s with the use of answering services. 

Doctors have used medical answering services for decades. During normal business hours, answering services can take some of the workloads off medical office staff so they can focus on patient care. After hours, these services take messages from callers and relay them to the covering doctor.

Traditionally, medical answering service operators would contact doctors via pagers. The agent would alert the on-call doctor with a page, and the doctor would call back to the answering service to find out more details.

Hospital Call Center Evolution

As technology developed, the healthcare industry began to establish its own call centers. Hospital call centers not only help with on-call needs, but they can also assist hospital systems with managing billing, collections, and patient communication. Healthcare call centers have proved to help streamline communications, improve efficiencies, enhance the patient experience, and even reduce expenses.

Medical call centers have become the hub of communications for health systems. The call center software they use is becoming more advanced and turning call centers into contact centers. While call centers primarily focus on voice calls, contact centers provide additional communication services by allowing people to contact the organization via live support/chat, social media, instant messaging apps, direct website interfaces, and email. 

Contact center agents receive training to use each communication channel to engage patients and adhere to a healthcare system’s best practices. Reporting and agent performance metrics are adapted for each channel depending on its functions and capabilities.

Automation Technology

Some contact centers use automation technology to bolster their services with bot agents and chatbots. The most common contact center automation trends include:

  • Chatbots and conversational interface tools.
  • Active listening tools such as natural language processing, natural language understanding, and natural language generation.
  • Robotic process automation to replace tier 0 caller support and other uncomplicated interactions that are task-oriented and programmable. 
  • Statistical machine learning that uses algorithms to mine data and find patterns to continuously improve systems.

However, bots can’t process unique requests, handle complex situations, or express empathy. Therefore, some medical contact centers prefer a hybrid automation solution. Used strategically, hospital contact centers can use automation to streamline communications and workflows by:

  • Escalating complex calls to the most qualified agent.
  • Providing a self-service interactive voice response (IVR) option for common or routine requests.
  • Using automated forecasting to help interpret massive quantities of data gathered by their software to understand trends, make predictions, and schedule staff.
  • Program agent scripting protocols to ensure the most updated information is given to callers and to guide operators through complicated calls.

Omnichannel Contact Centers

The combination of different communication channels, multiple healthcare departments, and possibly many hospitals and clinics within one healthcare system means that communication needs to be a seamless, singular experience for callers.

In healthcare, miscommunication can be life-threatening. Omnichannel contact centers are the most advanced type of contact center. They avoid the pitfalls of working in silos by optimizing technology across all channels, so the entire caller journey is visible. Leveraging this data helps to enhance the patient experience, improve agent efficiency, and better meet organizational goals.

Virtual Contact Centers

Medical contact centers are an extension of a hospital or healthcare center’s operations and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have become especially crucial during the current pandemic and many operators are working from home. Web-based virtual agent software makes remote work possible by turning any personal computer into a professional agent workstation accessible via the internet or a hospital’s local intranet. All the tools used by an agent in a contact center are accessible to the virtual agent.

Establish a virtual private network (VPN) connection for remote operators to ensure their connection is secure. Once agents connect to the VPN, they can create their remote agent connection for data and audio. Options to establish the data connection can occur via direct connection, remote desktop, thin client, Citrix, and VDI, and an audio connection via integrated audio or external audio.

The digital tools that on-premise agents use are also available to agents working remotely. Any updates made to those tools, the software, or scripting language happen instantaneously for all agents, so they have the exact information they need to provide the best patient experience and reduce error rates.

Digital Future

Engaging with patients and community members across multiple channels, and using that data to better serve them, requires forward-thinking strategies. In the future, successful hospital contact centers will evolve to keep up with other healthcare technologies and become digital-first communication hubs for their patients.

These hubs will play an even bigger role in helping healthcare organizations improve patient care by connecting patient experiences from across their enterprise for a more complete understanding of a patient’s journey. 

1Call, a division of Amtelco

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

Video-Based Doctor Visits, Revisited

LVM Systems

By Mark Dwyer

Three years ago, I wrote an article for the September 2017 issue of AnswerStat titled Video-Based Doctor Visits. At the time, I proposed video-based doctor visits as a solution to address the shortages of primary care physicians. Little did I know it foreshadowed a much greater need for virtual visits in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 made scheduling face-to-face doctor visits nearly impossible. 

Not only has the pandemic increased the need for video-visits, but our aging population and a declining supply of primary care physicians have also increased our healthcare shortfalls. According to the updated 2020 projection from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), by 2033, the United States will have a shortage of as many as 54,100 to 139,000 physicians, with primary care representing between 21,400 to 55,200 physicians.

In many areas of the country, there are not enough primary care physicians to handle the patients physically able to come into an office setting. However, that is not the only concern resulting from the shortage. An estimated two to four million people need doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers to make house calls. Unfortunately, the number of physicians and health practitioners who make house calls has also significantly decreased over the years. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), telehealth is especially critical in rural and other remote areas that lack sufficient healthcare services.

Telehealth to the Rescue

A recent HHS report found that virtual visits accounted for over 43 percent of Medicare fee-for-service primary care visits in April 2020. That compared with far less than 0.1 percent in February 2020. The HHS reported that virtual visits continued to be frequent even after in-person primary care visits resumed in May of 2020. The continued use of virtual visits indicates that they are likely to be a more permanent part of the healthcare delivery system.

Telehealth visit solutions have the power to change the way we provide and receive healthcare for the better.

An article in Becker’s Hospital Review, January 20, 2021, further supported telehealth’s permanence. “We have been talking about telehealth for nearly thirty years, and in the year 2020 especially, the need for virtual health services has escalated globally.”

The recent actions of Amazon bear this out. Another article in Becker’s Health IT on March 17, 2021, stated, “Amazon is launching its virtual medical service Amazon Care for its employees in all fifty states and Washington, D.C., this summer, with plans to expand the offering to other employers later this year.” Amazon would not pursue virtual visits if they did not believe they were here to stay and sure to be profitable.

A McKinsey’s survey in April 2020 found consumer adoption of telehealth has skyrocketed, with almost 70 percent of in-person visits canceled in the United States. Canceling in-person visits has helped in decreasing the transmission rate of COVID-19 and limiting exposure to patients. Patients are rapidly transitioning to telehealth, with 76 percent of survey respondents suggesting that they were highly or moderately likely to use telehealth going forward.

According to a Mayo Clinic article on May 13, 2020, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, video technology helped doctors connect with people in rural locations. More than half of U.S. hospitals and medical centers now use telehealth in some way. The Mayo Clinic found that most people report a positive experience with online visits. 

Mayo further identified that many people also say the real-time consultation can be just as effective as an in-office visit. In addition, while social distancing remains needed during the COVID-19 pandemic, video visits for medical care offer a way to access timely care without leaving home.

The Call Center’s Role

So how can the call center play a vital role in offering telehealth services?

Triage call centers focus on getting patients “the right care—at the right time—at the right place.” Adding virtual visits as a triage endpoint for immediate, real-time appointments expands the call center’s services while providing enhanced customer service. The most successful organizations that offer triage call centers will be those with a strategy to integrate virtual visits. Telehealth benefits include convenience, access to care, better patient outcomes, and a more efficient healthcare system.

Finally, during his recent Senate confirmation hearings, Mr. Becerra indicated his support for permanent telehealth expansions. According to a February 25, 2021 article in Politico, Mr. Becerra said he wants to boost technology accessibility and is committed to permanently expanding payment policies that have increased virtual health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about implementing a telehealth program or integrating it with your existing efforts, reference telehealth.hhs.gov/providers/getting-started.

LVM Systems logo


Mark Dwyer is a thirty-three-year veteran of the healthcare call center industry and the COO at LVM Systems. LVM provides healthcare call center solutions that support nurse triage, disease management, behavioral health intake, patient transfer, and referral/marketing services, including consumer-centered web products.

How Insurance Reimbursements Make Remote Patient Monitoring Profitable for Healthcare Organizations


TriageLogic

By Ravi K. Raheja, MD

The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged healthcare organizations and physicians to adopt remote healthcare more readily, from telehealth visits to remote patient monitoring (RPM). The need to care for patients efficiently from their homes and to assess a potential serious health problem has ushered in the future of the industry. This improves patient outcomes and decreases morbidity and mortality. Reimbursement from commercial and government health insurers has made this shift financially possible for doctor’s offices and hospitals. 

According to a new report by McKinsey & Company, remote patient care will account for about $250 billion (about 20 percent) of what Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers spend on outpatient, office and home health visits in the near future. Remote patient monitoring for chronic patients is part of this new, technological wave taking over healthcare to improve patient outcomes.

RPM devices track essential vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose levels, oxygen saturation, and temperature. There are also RPM devices for weight, patient activity, and sleep. The kinds of devices are expanding and becoming more comprehensive all the time. Their goal is for doctors to be able to regularly monitor patient vitals for signs of change and be able to intervene before a patient presents a symptom that would lead them to seek care. This webinar explains the RPM model and how to non-clinical call centers can make the process efficient for doctors. 

Reimbursement for Remote Patient Monitoring

In 2017, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a two-year study on its Chronic Care Management program, which laid out how RPM saved Medicare millions of dollars, decreased hospital readmissions, and increased patient education about their chronic ailment. These key goals make up a broad picture of value-based care.

CMS expanded their support for RPM since the pandemic stirred up interest in remote care projects. CPT (current procedural terminology) codes are available to help doctor offices make RPM programs profitable while also improving patient care. These codes provide a financial structure for physicians to receive reimbursement for the time spent and the equipment used. 

As far as actual figures, on average, CMS approved reimbursements of $120 per patient per month. Thinking bigger, if fifty patients enroll in an RPM program, a doctor’s office can generate $72,000 a year in revenue. 

Provider and Hospital Benefits

In addition to the increase in revenue from current patients, it is important to consider how RPM can affect a practice’s patient base. Some statistics are eye-opening. Nearly 25 percent of people polled stated they would switch to a new physician to access telehealth. As remote care becomes the norm and patients begin to acclimate to new platforms, it’s worthwhile to consider if patients can be lost to practices who use RPM. Fifty-one percent of patients are in some way uncomfortable with in-office visits, in addition to 42 percent feeling uncomfortable going to a hospital for any medical treatment, and 45 percent feeling uncomfortable using an urgent care or walk-in clinic. 

There are even more cost-saving CPT codes which can maximize profits. There is a code for initial setup of the device and patient education. An additional code can be billed each thirty days for supplying the device. Twenty minutes or more of clinical staff time in a calendar month spent interacting or communicating with a patient is also reimbursed. Collection and interpretation of data brought in by the device and digitally stored or transmitted to a patient through the physician is another helpful CPT code. 

Implementing Remote Patient Monitoring 

Setting up an RPM platform is an investment towards the future. Strive to create an onboarding experience that is efficient with minimum provider time. For example, nurses can educate patients, and non-clinical staff can track device data.

TriageLogic


Ravi K. Raheja, MD is the COO and medical director of the TriageLogic Group. Founded in 2007, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-lead provider of high-quality telehealth services, remote patient monitoring, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive solutions include integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 9,000 physicians and covers over 20 million lives nationwide.

Mixing Full-time and Part-time Call Center Staff



Discover the Right Balance in Agent Scheduling for Your Healthcare Contact Center

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Some healthcare call centers only employ full-time staff. Others do the opposite and only hire part-timers. The ideal solution might be to balance a combination of both full-time and part-time agents.

Full-Time Call Center Agents

A key benefit of staffing your call center with full-time employees is greater stability and predictability. A full-time employee with benefits, especially healthcare benefits, is more likely to be committed to their work and less likely to seek a new job.

This commitment results in having an accomplished workforce that possesses the knowledge accumulated only through longevity. The typical result is more accurate communication with callers and the potential for better outcomes. With these as the benefits of having a full-time staff, why wouldn’t every call center want to hire only full timers?

Call centers with only full-time staff face a couple limitations. The key one is that call traffic seldom fits the nice 9-to-5 work schedule of full-time employees. Instead, callers arrive in predictable surges throughout the day. When attempting to address these traffic peaks with full-time staff working eight-hour shifts, the result is they will need to work like crazy some of the time and still not be able to keep up. At other times they won’t have enough to do.

Another limitation is a lack of flexibility. If a full timer’s shift is over, having worked there eight hours, but you need them to stay late to take more calls, you’re looking at an overtime situation. On the other hand, if you have people sitting around twiddling their thumbs, you can’t send a full-time employee home early because they won’t get there forty hours of work that you promised them and that they expect.

Part-Time Call Center Agents

As a reaction of this, other call centers hire only part-time staff. This gives them maximum scheduling flexibility. They’re able to have employees work exactly when they need them, no more and no less. If things get especially busy and you need someone to stay later, many are happy to pick up extra hours. Conversely, if it is slower than expected and you want to send staff home, there is usually someone anxious to accommodate.

Yet this maximum flexibility comes at a price. Part-time staff are less committed to you, your call center, and your callers. They’re more likely to look for other jobs that pay more, have better benefits, or offer more appealing schedules. They may desire full-time work and only accepted your offer because the hours you offered them were better than no hours.

This means that a call center of part-time employees has higher turnover, along with all the problems that the constant churn of employees can present.

Hybrid Staffing

The solution is to strategically hire full-time and part-time employees. This provides the best solution to achieve both a degree of stability along with much-needed flexibility. Though the ideal ratio of full-time to part-time workers varies from one call center to the next, a general initial goal is 50-50. That is to have a foundation of full-time employees filling half of your typical schedule, using part-time staffers for the remaining half.

In your actual operation, however, you may find it works better to have fewer full-time agents or have more, but you won’t know what the ideal ratio is and will have to home in on it over time.

Call center staffing is part art and part science, balancing your organization’s fiscal responsibility with your caller’s healthcare needs. A hybrid staff comprised of both full-time and part-time agents may be the best way to get there.

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.

Modernizing Your Contact Center: The First Step Toward a More Engaging Patient Experience



By Donna Martin 

While healthcare has traditionally been more reactive in nature, consumerism is driving a shift toward a model that is more proactive and puts patients at the center. As providers compete ever more fiercely for less revenue due to the financial crisis brought on by COVID-19, we fully expect to see a heavier focus on the consumerization of healthcare this year, and a major boost to patient experience as a result.

In fact, consumerism has already changed patient-facing communications for hospitals and health systems. This shift has been so major that many healthcare leaders are looking to other industries—such as banking and retail—to uncover best practices to adapt to the healthcare setting. After all, the people who shop at Amazon.com are the same people who shop for healthcare—and the experience of the former informs their expectations for the latter.

As a result of consumerism’s influence, delivering an exceptional patient experience is more important than ever, and first impressions are critical. That’s why a modernized contact center—measured by value-based benchmarks—is integral both for differentiating your healthcare organization and for preventing the loss of valuable customers.

For example, if a patient makes a basic inquiry, such as to schedule an appointment, ask a question about a treatment plan, or request a referral, are they confronted with a myriad of questions, outdated, legacy options, and poorly automated selection menus? Are they routed and rerouted among multiple call service operators and forced to relay the same information repeatedly? For a patient living in the gig economy and accustomed to a seamless customer experience, a painful interaction such as this isn’t likely to make a good first impression.

Contact centers measure quantitative benchmarks, such as how fast calls are answered, average handle time, the rate of first-call resolution, and the number of agent-to-agent transfers. All those measures are important, but these traditional, quantitative benchmarks fall short of the innovations and requirements of the industry’s transition to patient-centered, value-based care delivery.

Patient contact centers should offer seamless patient engagement, reducing frustration and time spent by caregivers and patients seeking answers to their questions. If airline carriers know their customers’ preferred seating arrangement and hotels know their guests’ floor and room preferences, then healthcare provider contact centers should strive to anticipate the needs of their patients in a much more proactive manner.

The shift toward an initiative-taking approach requires that patient records are in the patient portal and can be effectively routed to care coordinators. This allows agents to reference and make decisions based on what is known about that patient at that time, including personalization criteria, such as a patient’s preferred channel of communication.

Today’s consumers demand a healthcare ecosystem that offers self-service channels to help them get the right answer quickly. Provider organizations must invest in hyper-personalized, unified, and frictionless experiences with cross-channel integration to create a holistic and engaging patient experience. 

To support these modernized contact centers, health systems will turn increasingly to the next generation of data analytics and cognitive artificial intelligence (AI). Providers have a phenomenal amount of data at their disposal—from claims, labs, and other sources—but using it to effectively anticipate patient needs with razor-focused accuracy remains a challenge. 

From tracking and screening of biometrics and preventive care based on personalized data, organizations should deploy analytics to enhance personal profiles and gain a comprehensive understanding of how to best guide an individual’s health requirements. This will raise the bar on optimizing patient experience. 

As the industry continues to shift toward a patient-centric, proactive model, business process management (BPM) providers can assist with addressing these changes and shorten the learning curves that may exist. The fact that most BPMs have existing relationships with clients who have long emphasized customer experience, such as retail and e-tail, makes them the perfect resource to tap for providing guidance and implementing these new strategies.

Donna Martin is senior vice president, healthcare business development at HGS

LVM Vendor Spotlight


LVM Systems

During the past year, LVM Systems, a leading developer of desktop and web enterprise action solutions, announced the availability of three new product offerings: LVM One Desktop, LVM One Web, and Personal Health Valet. These solutions address all inbound inquiries, outgoing communication, and coordination assistance. 

LVM One Desktop

Utilizing a user interface (UI) professional’s expertise, LVM developed LVM One Desktop. This solution was designed around the principle of “Efficiency through Elegance.” Based on the Golden Ratio of 16:10, LVM One Desktop benefits from reducing contrast, strengthening focus points, and maximizing working memory.

LVM One Desktop’s simplified workflow improves call times by streamlining data entry. It also utilizes Microsoft’s newest recommended icons and fonts in conjunction with the following key features:

  • The ability for multiple transactions and modules to be open simultaneously.
  • A floating follow-up queue that is displayable on a second monitor.
  • Call templates to filter data by marketing campaign, disaster, or pandemic.

LVM One Web Solution

The LVM One Web solution is a lightweight, secure, and convenient way to handle contact center needs using unique workflows customized to meet your contact center’s most common activities. This solution:

  • Is accessible on a secure internet connection via a web browser, enabling the contact center representative to field requests for class registration, physician referral and appointment, triage, health information, and hospital transfer. 
  • Enables contact center representatives to monitor their active calls and follow-up queues, send direct messages to each other, pull system reports, and run “discoveries” on useful contact center information.

As additional solutions, LVM offers the following add-ons to either software: 

  • Chat, or bi-directional text* with consumers, patients, or providers for class registrations, physician referrals, triage, health information, service referrals, or respond to a question or other request.
  • Self-service portal access (WebLink+) for patients to class registrations, physician referrals, triage, health information, service referrals, or respond to a question or other request.
  • Enterprise access for non-contact center staff to view and manage select information such as class builds and rosters or physician files, or to run specified reports.

* Bi-directional text is only available with LVM One Web.

Personal Health Valet 

Personal Health Valet is a unique platform that allows hospitals to tailor automated campaigns to guide patients for optimized care. Personal Health Valet addresses strategic goals by creating a smart, trusted conversation channel for the patient and family circles. It fills communication gaps created by disparate hospital systems and manual processes by delivering an intelligent and fully automated platform for communicating with patients, spouses, and key employees in real-time.

Personal Health Valet also addresses the myriad of communication gaps that exist when patients leave the health system’s walls. This platform can seamlessly integrate asynchronous (technology-driven) and synchronous (staff-driven) conversations to expand the opportunity for success. 

Personal Health Valet can augment existing predictive technologies and processes with an actionable platform to target and help manage high-risk patient groups. Personal Health Valet:

  • Provides complete “Predictive Models” with actionable workflows. 
  • Creates intelligent post-discharge communication. 
  • Promotes patient compliance: meds, rehab, etc. 
  • Automates communication based on patient condition.
  • Reduces re-admits. 
  • Expands existing care management through technology.
  • Engages in bi-directional communication to keep managers in synch with target patients with CHF, pneumonia, joint replacement, and others.
  • Tracks whether patients have scheduled in-network specialty care visits ordered by primary care doctors.

In addition, Personal Health Valet identifies patients who have been to the ED more than once within the last twelve months for non-emergent conditions and sends them an automated message to alert them about the primary care or urgent care clinics closest to their zip code. It can redirect non-emergent cases from ER to Urgent Care Centers and decrease system leakage.

Overview

For over thirty years, LVM’s solutions have supported nurse triage, disease management, behavioral health intake, patient transfer, and referral/marketing services. The company’s cornerstones are comprehensive software, outstanding customer support, and proven clinical content supported by Drs. Barton Schmitt and David Thompson. 

The LVM team also provides custom web development, implementation services, on-site or remote training, phone and remote-access support, network consultation, free educational webinars, customization of screens, and custom reports. 

LVM Systems logo

For more information, contact LVM Systems at 480-427-3186.