Tag Archives: healthcare

1Call Vendor Spotlight


1Call-call center

1Call’s mission: Working together to provide the very best communication product solutions, backed by the best support available.

Since 1976, Amtelco has provided innovative communication solutions to call centers around the world. In 1997, the 1Call Division was formed to offer enterprise-wide clinical communication solutions designed specifically for healthcare organizations. 1Call is dedicated to serving the unique call center and communication needs of healthcare organizations, helping improve communications between patients, physicians, and staff by connecting people and information. Amtelco has received twenty-eight patents, covering a wide range of communications processes.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations around the world turn to 1Call to solve their medical call center, answering service, on-call scheduling, on-site and remote operator, web-based communication, call handling, secure messaging, voice processing, conference calling, and automated integration engine notification needs. In an independent survey, 100 percent of the respondents said they would highly recommend Amtelco and 1Call over other healthcare communication providers.

1Call’s mission: Working together to provide the very best communication product solutions, backed by the best support available. Click To Tweet

Five-Star Service and Support

1Call has a reputation for complete, professional system support, offering training, installation, and technical support staff on call on a 24-hour basis. When customers need assistance for their call center solutions, 1Call’s customer support staff provides fast and reliable service. Customer advocates, solutions architects, and product managers are available to help customers and answer questions before, during, and after the sale.

1Call understands that every healthcare organization has unique needs. 1Call’s customer support staff includes implementation specialists, installers, project managers, and technical support staff. The customer support staff has an average tenure of over fifteen years, which is virtually unheard of in technology and IT businesses. All support staff members are in the United States. While many of the staff members are in the Midwest home office, there are several regional offices around the United States.

Help When Needed, Pandemic Response

When the coronavirus became a pandemic and hospital call centers experienced a sharp increase in call volume, 1Call supported customers by offering free operator licenses. Because 1Call’s software can turn any desktop or laptop computer into a professional operator station, the service department also helped in setting up remote operator stations so staff could work safely from home. 

“The free license offer from 1Call came at the right time. Additional operators were up and running quickly. I can’t tell you how appreciative I was to be able to have the ability for more agents to cover all of our calls,” said Shelley White, MS, CHAM, FACHE and director, patient access services for State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University

Customers have access to 1Call’s support team via phone, email, or the exclusive online TechHelper tool, where documentation, manuals, videos, and many more training tools are available. TechHelper is available 24-hours a day, with unlimited access. Emergency assistance for 1Call systems is available 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.

Software upgrades are included with support agreements, helping ensure that 1Call customers always have access to the newest features.

In an independent customer satisfaction survey, 97 percent of the respondents said the Amtelco and 1Call service and support was excellent (Amtelco Satisfaction Research Study conducted by TMA+Peritus, February 2015). 1Call looks forward to partnering with more healthcare organizations to provide this same level of service.

Streamlined Hospital Communication Solutions

1Call features a complete line of modular solutions specifically designed to streamline enterprise-wide communications, reduce errors, and lessen training time for new hospital call center operators. All the specialized 1Call solutions save an organization’s limited resources, making each organization tremendously efficient, enhancing the patient experience, and improving their bottom line.

Each 1Call solution comes with the benefit of Amtelco’s forty plus years of experience in the field of call handling and messaging. Thousands of 1Call and Amtelco systems are in operation around the world, 24-hours each day.

Easily Customizable Clinical Communications

1Call understands that every healthcare organization has unique needs and that they sometimes receive unusual requests from physicians and departments. That’s why 1Call offers powerful solutions that are easy to customize by the customer. Customers have access to a wide variety of administrative functions, including the ability to customize scripts for any department, with individual scripts for every physician, if needed. 1Call also has a scripting team that is available to help customers with any specific requests.

Why Choose 1Call?

Hospitals continually recommend 1Call solutions to other healthcare organizations. So, more healthcare organizations continue to switch to 1Call. “Pretty much all of the 1Call team worked long hours as we trudged towards the cutover. I was constantly amazed to be getting email replies to questions at all hours of the day and weekends,” said Kevin Mallon, project manager for Canterbury District Health Board in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Watch video testimonials.) 

Strong Partner Relationships

Hospital CIOs and CTOs are under tremendous pressure to do more with smaller budgets and staff. It’s paramount that they have a reliable health communications IT partner. 1Call forms solid partnerships with customers. Each organization is encouraged to work closely with the 1Call team of consultants and engineers through each phase of system planning, configuration, and implementation. This helps ensure that the 1Call systems are at their optimum performance levels to meet all the communication needs of their organizations.

1Call also works closely with key technology partners to provide organizations with the solutions that best fit their communication and technology requirements. 1Call’s partners integrate at a high level with the call center, on-call scheduling, HIPAA secure messaging, alarms management, and emergency notification services to produce a comprehensive solution that satisfies the needs of each organization.

The 1Call technology partnerships include:

  • American Messaging
  • Apple iOS Developer Program
  • Avaya DevConnect Community
  • Black Box
  • Bluestream
  • Cisco Solution Partner Program
  • Cisco Developers Network
  • Copia OEM Partner
  • GENBAND Partner Program
  • Google Play Developer
  • Health Level 7 International (HL7)
  • HISCALL
  • Interactive Intelligence Global Alliance
  • Interbit Data
  • Microsoft Developers Network
  • Mitel Solutions Alliance
  • NEC UNIVERGE Solutions Partner Program
  • ProScheduler
  • Qgenda
  • SAP OEM Partnership Program
  • ShoreTel Innovation Network Alliance Partner
  • Spectralink Application Integration and Management Solvers Program
  • Unify (formerly Siemens) Technology Partners – Advanced Level Status
  • Vocera Solution Partner Program
  • Windows Development Center Member

One Company, One Solution

The development and customer support teams are in the “Innovation Way” hallway at the Amtelco and 1Call home office. These teams work together closely, and when a question arises, it’s a quick walk down the hallway to find the solution. One company, one solution, proudly located in the USA.

Recent Innovations

As customers have come to expect, Amtelco and 1Call continue creating innovative solutions. In addition to frequent enhancements to Intelligent Series, soft agent, and miSecureMessages, the newest innovations are Web Agent, miTeamWeb, MergeComm, and Genesis: 

Web Agent: 1Call’s next generation, call-handling application, Web Agent, is a web browser-based telephone agent interface. Web Agent is compatible with most modern web browsers, enabling agents to process multi-channel calls on desktop computers, laptops, and tablets. Web Agent can perform directory searches, scripted messaging, and dispatching, and provide access to call log recordings, web content, and on-call schedules.

MiTeamWeb: MiTeamWeb is 1Call’s mobile-friendly web application that gives physicians and hospital staff fast access to on-call schedules, messages, directories, call logs, and status information using a secure browser connection on a PC, smartphone or tablet. The app features customizable widgets, allowing each user to personalize their miTeamWeb home screen. 

The MergeComm Integration Engine: MergeComm automates communications throughout an organization, speeding response times to help organizations provide better patient care. MergeComm takes an incoming message and uses a script to determine who needs to receive that information. 

MergeComm can receive a message from a wide variety of sources, including alarms, alerts, HL7 messages, nurse call, severe weather alerts, TCP, WCTP, and web services. Notifications can go to an individual, an entire group, or the current on-call personnel. Notification methods include email, miSecureMessages, IP phones, pagers, phones, smart devices, SMS, and Vocera badges.

The Genesis Platform: Provides the Intelligent Series applications with advanced software-based telephony. Genesis provides an all-inclusive call center solution for healthcare call routing, call management, reporting, and call center applications based on the Intelligent Series. A few of the many benefits of Genesis include reducing the need for hardware, virtualization of the switching platform, integrating with SIP-enabled PBXs, connecting remote agents, and automating overhead paging.

Priority Call Override is a feature of Genesis that ensures urgent calls receive appropriate priority treatment to provide better care to patients. Code calls, emergency calls, crisis calls, and other priority calls can override less urgent calls, allowing agents to take immediate action. The call routes to the most qualified operator available and notifies all agents that a priority call is in progress.

The Future

1Call, a division of Amtelco

As technology continues to evolve (and everyone knows it will) and as customers have new communication challenges, rest assured that 1Call and Amtelco will continue to develop new innovative solutions, as they have for over forty years.

The Future of Healthcare is Here with Help from Telehealth and Hospital Call Centers


1Call-call center

By Nicole Limpert

Those of us in the healthcare communication field already know the value of telehealth and virtual care. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved, telemedicine gained worldwide recognition as a critical healthcare tool to keep both patients and medical staff safe.

Telehealth has predominantly been used to bring healthcare to rural areas or isolated populations, such as overseas military personnel and those who work in the maritime industry. Until recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) placed certain stipulations on telehealth providers and would only reimburse for services provided in rural areas with specific audio-visual equipment.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 6, 2020 CMS relaxed restrictions and removed many of the conditions clinicians had to adhere to in order to provide telehealth services to patients living across the United States. Later, CMS expanded its telehealth adoption to include eighty-five new telehealth services to their covered list and set provider reimbursement rates for telehealth visits to be the same as in-person services.

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolved, telemedicine gained worldwide recognition as a critical healthcare tool to keep both patients and medical staff safe. Click To Tweet

Are We Ready for Telemedicine?

Many people are new to the concept of telemedicine. On July 31, 2019 JD Power reported that nearly three-quarters of Americans weren’t aware of telehealth options or didn’t have access to technology to partake in telehealth. Yet, the American Hospital Association states that 76 percent of U.S. hospitals were already using telehealth before the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, forty-eight states require telehealth coverage in insurance plans.

Healthcare-related industries already had infrastructure in place and were prepared for the use of telemedicine and telehealth. However, few, if any, expected how quickly the use of these virtual tools would grow or how they would be used in new ways when COVID-19 began to spread. The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically accelerated the adoption of telemedicine usage. Telehealth visits sky-rocketed by 50 percent in March 2020 according to data from Frost and Sullivan, and analysts at Forrester Research estimates that virtual healthcare interactions will reach more than one billion by the end of 2020.

Hospital Call Centers Experience Increased Telehealth Calls

The pandemic has affected call centers in every industry. Most business websites have placed a message at the top of their home page warning of long hold times and delays in service. 

In healthcare, communication setbacks can mean life or death. Understandably, hospital call centers experienced a substantial increase in calls early in the pandemic. Many healthcare call centers assist with telehealth efforts and they also serve as a hub for their healthcare organization during a crisis.

“We played an immediate role in the hospital’s corporate response to the coronavirus pandemic,” explains Shelley White, MS, CHAM, FACHE, director of patient access services for State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University.

“A COVID-19 hotline was established, and we took calls from multiple counties in our area. Within two weeks, our call volume drastically increased, and we needed more space in our call centers to work while practicing social distancing. We used free operator licenses from our vendor to set-up additional remote operator workstations so more of our agents could work from home. This kept our staff safe while serving the community.”

Running a call center in a virtual server environment, or in the cloud, is giving hospitals the ability to stay flexible and available by using remote operators. These tools are scalable and result in fully functioning call handling to transform any personal computer into a professional telephone agent station.

Call Center Software Assists Telehealth Communication

Using telehealth for virtual appointments with medical staff and patients has been essential during this pandemic. There are other ways healthcare systems use telehealth communications. Hospital call centers are using their communication software, often in new ways, to provide their communities and staff with accurate information, quick responses, and in some cases—hope.

  • Nurse Triage Centers: Agents use a customized script to triage calls.
  • Improved Navigation Menus: Callers are directed to additional, updated information.
  • Non-Clinical Services: Telehealth also refers to remote, non-clinical administrative uses such as establishing and maintaining on-call shifts for COVID-19 volunteer pools. They can even create announcements using a song, tone, or message to broadcast throughout the hospital when a coronavirus patient is released. It’s a wonderful way to spread hope and encouragement to patients and staff.

Many telehealth agents are working from home and it is crucial for them to have access to the IT support they would normally use when working in the call center. Jennie McWhorter, information services operations manager for Ephraim McDowell Health in Danville, KY explains how the system can help here as well. “We have entered a ‘Telehealth Support Hotline’ in the call center software that allows the operators to connect to our help desk directly,” says Jennie. “This is very important as our main help desk line is usually a voicemail-only system that creates a ticket in our help desk software.”

Remote Operators Help Medical Staff

Shelley White’s team has also been able to help staff who are still located within the hospital. SUNY Upstate Medical University is the only ACS certified Level I Trauma Center in the region and serves about 1.7 million people and 28 referral hospitals. Shelley says, “During this coronavirus crisis, our ER registration is short-staffed, but we are able to help by watching our track board, which is tied into the EMR system with Epic. When a COVID-19 patient is admitted, we can call the patient to register them and verify insurance information over the phone. This process would normally be done in-person by ER staff, but we can do it remotely and ease some of their workload.”

According to numbers reported from Becker’s Hospital Review on April 7, 2020, employees from 243 hospitals have been furloughed during the pandemic. Hospitals are taking steps to save supplies, suspend elective procedures, and focus on treating COVID-19 patients.

To avoid layoffs, some healthcare organizations reassigned their medical staff as remote call center operators. “We were able to redistribute existing staff from other departments and tap into their skills to cross-train them to work for the switchboard,” states Shelley. 

“In our situation, patient access staff and medical answer teams were trained on easy calls and were then able to work from home as remote operators. These staff members are now even more valuable to our organization.”

Kathleen Kerrigan BSN, RN, and manager of medical communications center, radiology contact center and pager services for Nebraska Medicine mentions her experience: “Nebraska Medicine has created a flex pool for employees that work in areas of the organization that have closed or severely cut their workflows due to COVID-19. I was able to add nineteen of these employees to my team, including both nurses and agents.”

Telehealth as the New Normal: Telehealth has suddenly become crucial for patients and healthcare organizations. The use of telehealth has undeniably shown what a valuable tool it is in maintaining a healthy population. 

Hospital call centers and healthcare professionals have already shown agility in adapting communications software in new ways to improve telemedicine applications while enhancing patient care—even during a pandemic. Advances in technology and our ability to use it could soon make the use of telehealth a standard healthcare practice. 

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.

Protocols Updated to Cover Coronavirus


TriageLogic

To address Coronavirus concerns, Doctors Schmitt and Thompson have updated their Clinical Content protocols. The coronavirus protocols include appropriate questions to screen patients who may be at risk as well as dispositions based on symptoms and exposure. The protocols also contain pertinent information from a public health reporting perspective to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

The coronavirus protocols include appropriate questions to screen patients who may be at risk as well as dispositions based on symptoms and exposure. Click To Tweet

Coronavirus is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, first detected in China, has now been diagnosed throughout most of the world. The virus is named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes has been named coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated COVID-19. On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. 

At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. According to the CDC, nonpharmaceutical interventions are the most important response strategy. As the virus outbreak continues to evolve, TriageLogic will provide its clients with the latest information to allow for the best-possible patient care. 

TriageLogic

Contact TriageLogic if you have questions about their protocols or if you would like their triage nurses to be available to answer your patient phone calls. To learn more about COVID-19, see information from the World Health Organization

TriageLogic Implements Emergency COVID-19 Hotlines and Remote Care Solutions


TriageLogic

TriageLogic announced easy-to-implement solutions that hospitals, medical organizations, and health centers can use for patient care during the COVID-19 crisis. As the healthcare sector adapts to the coronavirus pandemic, many medical professionals work around the clock to implement emergency support solutions for patients who present worrying symptoms, as well as those who need help understanding the guidelines for care. 

A COVID19 hotline is available 24/7 to screen patient questions, provide information, and follow scripts on behalf of specific practices and medical groups. Click To Tweet

The following solutions have minimal implementation time requirements:

  • A Coronavirus-trained hotline is available 24/7 to screen patient questions, provide information, and follow scripts on behalf of specific practices and medical groups. With a significant increase in patient calls, the ability to discern which ones require additional medical attention and which are only seeking advice is paramount to a functional office staff. 
  • Nurse triage software with Covid-19 protocols, through MyTriageChecklist, is a fast-to-train, web-enabled software that provides continuity in patient care and education. 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 consistently ask and document all relevant questions related to patient symptoms. 
  • Remote call center with phone system can enable your certified nurses to work at any location connected to a call center-grade, HIPAA-compliant phone system. This allows an organization to keep their clinical staff at home and coordinate as a team to remotely evaluate patients.

“We are working around the clock to help our current clients as well as other health centers put processes in place to help patients and concerned callers. We are also working with remote monitoring companies to have a process in place to help patients at risk, or after a hospitalization at their homes,” said TriageLogic’s Ravi Raheja, MD.

TriageLogic

TriageLogic offers easy to implement solutions for healthcare organizations to address the COVID-19 crisis. This includes setting up information hotlines, giving nurses the tools to evaluate patients over the phone, and helping set up remote call center phone systems. Visit www.triagelogic.com for more information or email info@triagelogic.com.

Contact Center Preventive Health Promotion


LVM Systems

By Traci Haynes

Preventive health has gained momentum over the past few years as individuals seek to improve their overall health through exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, and better lifestyle choices. Preventive care not only helps individuals and communities stay healthier, but it also helps to avoid or delay the onset of disease and keep conditions or diseases already present from worsening or becoming debilitating, resulting in a more productive life and reduced healthcare costs. 

Preventative Health Stats

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preventive services are the most basic form of healthcare recommended for all individuals. However, they estimate that Americans only use preventive services at about half the recommended rate. 

More than 900,000 Americans die each year prematurely from the five leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, and unintentional injuries). The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says that between 20 to 40 percent of these deaths could have been avoided by taking preventive steps.

Not only is chronic disease the leading cause of death and disability, but it is the primary cause of our nation’s annual healthcare costs. In fact, 90 percent of our nation’s 3.5 trillion dollars in annual healthcare expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions. 

The CDC believes that preventing disease is the key to improving America’s overall health and keeping rising costs under control. Click To Tweet

Overall healthcare costs, including all private and public spending, are anticipated to rise by an average of 5.5 percent per year over the next decade, growing to six trillion dollars by 2027. Healthcare spending is projected to grow faster than the economy, increasing to 19.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

As you know, many of the top risk factors leading to chronic disease and premature death are preventable such as tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol use, and poor nutrition, including diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated fats. 

Most health plans must cover a set of preventive services (such as immunizations, screening tests, etc.) at no cost to the individual. Why? Because it costs less for insurance companies to pay for preventive care than it does to pay for all the associated costs for disease management.

Helpful Websites

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) makes recommendations for screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications based on a rigorous review of existing peer-reviewed evidence and is intended to help clinicians and individuals decide which preventive services are right for them. The recommendations are assigned a letter grade based on the strength of the evidence as well as the balance of benefits versus harms. The task force consists of sixteen volunteer members who are nationally recognized experts in prevention, evidence-based medicine, and primary care. Learn more about the USPSTF and view their list of recommendations.

Another excellent website is on healthfinder.gov, titled “myhealthfinder.” It includes a tool to find personalized preventive service recommendations for individuals simply by filling in age and gender. It also includes instructions for getting the tool for your organization’s or contact center’s website. 

The Call Center’s Role

What can the contact center do to help individuals learn about and receive preventive healthcare? Many things. The contact center can familiarize themselves with the recommendations for the population they serve and integrate the USPSTF recommendations, as appropriate, into their interactions. Here are four examples.

1. Chronic Cough: A 67-year old male caller who has smoked a pack a day for the past twenty-five years, calls complaining of a chronic cough lasting for weeks. After triaging the caller and providing the recommended disposition, the nurse should also advise the caller that an abdominal aortic aneurysm one-time screening is recommended for men ages 65 to 75 who have ever smoked and a lung cancer screening is recommended annually for adults 55 to 80 with a higher risk for lung cancer (heavy smokers or those who have quit in the past fifteen years). 

2. Low Back Pain: An adult caller complaining of low back pain and knee pain and who has a BMI of 37, should be advised regarding obesity screening and counseling recommended for all adults after being triaged.

3. Shortness of Breath: A 47-year old adult caller with shortness of breath and who has a high risk of cardiovascular disease and is not on a statin should be told about statin preventive medication recommended for adults 40 to 75 years of age with a high risk of cardiovascular disease after being triaged.

4. Flu Concerns: A caller, age 31 who is concerned about flu exposure, but has yet to be vaccinated should be advised that flu shots are recommended on an annual basis after being triaged. 

Other Opportunities: Additional uses include, if an individual is holding for the next available nurse, the automated attendant could promote preventive health recommendations or services. Preventive health could be on the organization’s website with a phone number for the contact center. Alternatively, callers could be provided the link for each individual’s gender/age preventive health recommendations in an email or text. The possibilities are endless. 

Conclusion

Being able to encourage preventive care screenings, immunizations, etc., and where to receive them may prevent further issues over time. It is our responsibility to guide individuals to quit smoking, eat healthy, get regular physical activity, avoid drinking too much alcohol, get enough sleep, make healthy choices, and get screened.

The CDC believes that preventing disease is the key to improving America’s overall health and keeping rising costs under control. We, as clinicians, must continue to drive the necessity for preventive health and help individuals reach their health and wellness goals.

LVM Systems logo

Traci Haynes, MSN, RN, BA, CEN, CCCTM is director, clinical services at LVM Systems.

What Kind of Healthcare Coverage Do You Provide to Your Staff?



Take Steps to Meet the Healthcare Needs of Your Healthcare Call Center Staff

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I enjoy going to the zoo with family. We go several times each year. A special bonus are those opportunities to interact with the zookeepers and learn more about the animals under their care. During a recent visit we had the privilege of an extended discussion with one of the caretakers after she tended to the zoo’s three lions.

She shared insider information about their feeding, their training, and their healthcare. After covering the extensive medical care these three amazing creatures receive—the testing, monitoring, medication, and access to specialists—she grew momentarily somber. “They receive much better healthcare than I do.” We sadly nodded that we understood. Then she perked up and resumed telling us about these animals that she so clearly loves.

I wonder if a similar thing happens in our healthcare call centers. Do employees hang up from a phone call and shake their heads in dismay, muttering “That caller receives far better healthcare than I do.”? I hope not, but I fear it’s true far more often than it’s not.

It may be understandable for this to happen occasionally, but it’s inexcusable if it happens often. This needs to change. Take steps to better meet the healthcare needs of healthcare call center staff.

A key aspect of enabling call-center staff to best meet the healthcare needs of callers is to start by making sure you best meet the healthcare needs of your staff. Click To Tweet

To expect workers in healthcare call centers to serve patients and callers with excellence, they must first have a good perspective for them to work from. This includes providing healthcare workers with adequate healthcare coverage and services.

Falling short of doing so handicaps them from performing their jobs with distinction and serving callers with appropriate empathy. It would be like making restaurant staff work on an empty stomach but expecting it to not impact their patrons’ experience.

Call centers invest money on ongoing agent training, coaching, and quality assurance programs. Make sure to also invest in call center staff’s healthcare. This will help ensure that they better connect with the people they talk to on the phone, without negativity and resentment showing through.

A key aspect of enabling call-center staff to best meet the healthcare needs of callers is to start by making sure you best meet the healthcare needs of your staff. If you find yourself needing to make changes, you may not be able to fix everything all at one time. But you can move in that direction. Start today.

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.