June 2021 Issue of AnswerStat

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



Feature Content:

AS June 2021

Mental Health and Nurse Triage Calls During COVID-19, by Dr. Charu Raheja
Mental health became an important health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and patients called medical professionals for help . . . . read more >>

Vital Signs: Article Library at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Five hundred call center articles consolidated in one place for easy access and convenient searching in this new article library. . . . read more >>

Guest Column: Remote Patient Monitoring and The Future of Remote Nurse Triage, by Ravi K. Raheja, MD 
Able to closely monitor chronic patients in a safe, cost-effective manner, RPM is one of the fastest-growing medical technologies.. . . read more >>

How Telehealth Employers Can Ensure Effective Communication with Remote Staff, by 1Call 
Discover how to have effective communication with remote workers and develop the right management mindset and technology to drive success. . . . read more >>

Ten Years Ago: Delivering Healthy Customer Interactions Through a Home-Based Call Center Solution, by Chad W. Lyne
With the adoption of virtual contact centers, healthcare organizations have an alternate way of doing business and interfacing with patients. . . . read more >>

Industry News

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

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

Ameridial healthcare solutions
Call 4 Health
Startel
American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN)
Pulsar360
Keona Health


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

Contact us for more information.

Article Library at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com

Access Two Hundred Healthcare Call Center Articles Now in One Place 

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

For the past twenty years I’ve covered various aspects of the call center industry, publishing relevant trade periodicals. This includes AnswerStat, as well as our sister publication, Medical Call Center News. During these two decades, I’ve written over five hundred pieces about various aspects of operating and optimizing call centers. 

That’s a lot of material, averaging over two new articles a month for the entire twenty-year journey. This content spans four websites. Besides AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News, there are also Connections Magazine and TAS Trader.

Though you can go to each individual periodical website to read these articles, you can now access all this content in one place. (In addition, there are also posts about writing and publishing, as well as business content, accounting for 800 more pieces.) 

Conservatively, I estimate this article library totals over half a million words. That’s a lot of writing, enough for several books. I just need to find the time to edit and publish them. So, stay tuned for updates when these books release.

For readers who want to focus specifically on the medical field, you can read all two hundred healthcare call center articles from this one site.

This article library of content merges most of my industry information on one website. Plus, the handy search feature allows you to quickly access a specific topic. If you want to refresh your memory or reread something I’ve written in the past, this site is the ideal place to find it.

I begin this publishing adventure in September 2001, and I look forward to continuing it as we move into the future. And as this unfolds, watch for this article library to grow at the projected pace of two articles a month.

Something that’s become clear after the turmoil of 2020 is that the call center industry is an essential business communications vehicle that can weather any storm. More importantly, healthcare call centers have emerged as the future of the industry. 

It’s going to be exciting to watch this unfold, and I’ll be here every step of the way.

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.

Mental Health and Nurse Triage Calls During COVID-19

By Dr. Charu Raheja

TriageLogic

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of American adults estimated that the COVID pandemic had a negative effect on their mental health. We looked at data from our nurse triage service to understand how mental health may be related to COVID cases in the United States. 

Triage nurses don’t receive many mental health related calls. While there are protocols in place for such cases, nurses are not trained mental health professionals. Calls about mental health are extremely low as patients only call if they feel they have no one else to talk to. However, during the COVID pandemic, we saw spikes in the number of patients who called about mental health. 

(Figure 1)

Figure 1 presents the number of calls about mental health that we received from January–October 2020. We include calls about both anxiety and depression. These patients who called the triage nurse line were not experiencing medical symptoms; they were calling only about mental health. Those who experienced anxiety or depression along with medical symptoms would have been categorized in the appropriate triage protocol. Figure 2 presents the total number of COVID cases in the US by month. 

(Figure 2)

We find that in the beginning of the pandemic, there was a large spike in the number of mental health related calls we received. The triage nurses received about ten times as many calls about anxiety in April compared to January 2020. After this initial surge, the number of mental health-related calls decreased, but remained elevated. We also found that anxiety increased with surges in the number of COVID cases in the US. 

Our results show that mental health became an important health concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and that patients began to reach out to medical professionals for advice. One reason may be that the pandemic disrupted mental health services even as people began to experience more mental health concerns. Nurse triage also serves as a way for patients to reach out to providers. Patients may have also called the nurse triage service because they were anxious about COVID and sought information or reassurance, even if they were not experiencing symptoms. 

For more data about symptoms and outcomes of our nurse triage during COVID-19, check out our white paper, which contains information that can help you better understand patient behavior during a major health crisis. 

TriageLogic

Dr. Charu Raheja is the co-founder and CEO of the Triage Logic Group. The TriageLogic Group provides telehealth software, mobile communication solutions, and services to large medical centers and businesses around the country. It is part of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and it covers over 25 million lives nationwide. 

Contact Amy Smith at 888-TEAMTLC for more information.

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. 

The May 2021 Issue of Medical Call Center News



Read the May 2021 issue of Medical Call Center News.

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

Please tell your coworkers about Medical Call Center News.

Thank you!

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

April 2021 Issue of AnswerStat

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



Feature Content:

AS TOC April 2021

The Future of Hospital Contact Centers, by Nicole Limpert
Successful hospital contact centers must evolve to become digital-first communication hubs for their patients. . . . read more >>

Vital Signs: Who Signs Your Paycheck, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
In practice, you don’t work for one person, but for many. Let this realization motivate you to give your best to your job every day, on every call. . . . read more >>

Vendor Spotlight on TriageLogic
TriageLogic aims to stay ahead of the demands of healthcare with solutions to continue helping providers give the best possible care to their patients. . . . read more >>

Video-Based Doctor Visits, Revisited, by Mark Dwyer
Adding virtual visits as a triage endpoint for immediate, real-time appointments expands the call center’s services while providing enhanced customer service. . . . read more >>

How Insurance Reimbursements Make Remote Patient Monitoring Profitable for Healthcare Organizations, by Ravi K. Raheja, MD
Setting up an RPM platform is an investment for the future. Strive to create an efficient onboarding experience. . . . read more >>

Ten Years Ago: Using Call Recording to Optimize Contact Center Workforce Management by Roland Murphy
Call recording won’t make your medical contact center an Eden of efficiency overnight. This takes planning, people, and processes. . . . read more >>

Industry News

1Call Announces That Amtelco Wins Top Workplaces 2021 Award
1Call Announces Amtelco’s U.S. Patent for Auditing Communication Sessions

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

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

Ameridial healthcare solutions
Call 4 Health
Startel
American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN)
Pulsar360
Keona Health


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

Contact us for more information.

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.

1Call Announces that Amtelco Wins Top Workplaces 2021 Award

1Call, a division of Amtelco

1Call, a division of Amtelco, announced that Amtelco received a Top Workplaces 2021 honor by Wisconsin State Journal Top Workplaces. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage LLC. The anonymous survey measures fifteen culture drivers critical to the success of any organization, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few. 

“During this very challenging time, Top Workplaces has proven to be a beacon of light for organizations, as well as a sign of resiliency and strong business performance,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “When you give your employees a voice, you come together to navigate challenges and shape your path forward. Top Workplaces draw on real-time insights into what works best for their organization, so they can make informed decisions that have a positive impact on their people and their business.”

Amtelco president Tom Curtin continues to be proud of the entire Amtelco employee team. “While 2020 proved to be very different from any other time in recent history,” Curtin said, “the Amtelco team stepped up and customer support became the top priority for every one of us. Our customers provide essential call center services to their communities, so we reached out to them to find out how we could help. Since our beginning in 1976, many challenges have arisen, and each time the Amtelco team prevailed, as we did once again in 2020.”

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