The January 2014 Issue

Consider Your Mission Statement in 2014

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Does your call center have a mission? If you don’t have a mission statement, now is the time to develop one. Start today; don’t delay. A practical mission statement will support and guide your staff; don’t let them flounder. Remember the proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

If you already have a mission statement, is it a hang-on-the-wall, feel-good, marketing-ploy type, or a succinct adage to help staff? Is it short enough for your staff to remember? Does everyone readily understand the statement? Does it serve as a guide for daily decisions and actions?

The conventional wisdom to create a mission statement is to make it a group activity, with input and review throughout the organization. This is to seek the “buy-in” of all stakeholders. Yet, such mission statements become irrelevant over time, due to turnover. Then, every few years, a new committee forms to write a new one.

This group approach is wrong. Yes, you need staff support, but mission formation is a leadership issue. It must come from the top. Then, communicate it regularly. Over time, staff will embrace and internalize the mission statement.

Starting with leadership first, and then management, your mission statement will permeate your entire call center, directing action and guiding decisions. Make 2014 the year to draft or update your call center’s mission statement. Make it a top priority; your future may be at stake.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Medical Call Center News. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

HBO Takes on Extended Care Centers in “Getting On”

By Julia Goebel

It’s time for a little healthcare-based TV. HBO has a new show that’s taking on a subject rarely a topic for comedy: extended care centers, staff, patients, and difficult conditions brought on by disease and old age.

“Getting On,” based on the award-winning British sitcom of the same name, premiered Sunday, November 24, 2013. The six show pilot series stars veteran comedy actresses Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne), Niecy Nash, and Alex Borstein.

The show focuses on the day-to-day experiences of the doctors, nurses, administrators, and patients at a women’s geriatric wing of an extended care facility, as they deal with one of the many too real situations inside these facilities. Hopefully, this show will allow some of these situations to be discussed more plainly by patients and might even act as a catalyst for review of policy and practice at extended care centers. Frank discussions, and even some humor, really can lead to improved population health.

Julia Goebel is director of marketing at NotifyMD and a frequent blogger.

[Editor’s note: The six shows of season one have already aired but are available at]


Patient Urgency, Not Convenience, Contributes to ED Use

Contrary to the idea that convenience prompts privately insured people to seek care in emergency departments (EDs), the people most likely to use EDs believe they urgently need medical attention, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) for the non-partisan, non-profit National Institute for Health Care Reform (NIHCR).

Many privately insured people with an urgent medical problem go to hospital emergency departments even though they could be treated safely, and at a lower cost, elsewhere. Understanding why privately insured patients decide to seek care in EDs rather than other settings can help purchasers and payers safely guide patients to less costly care.

Patients’ perception of the severity of their medical problem and who they first contact for help or advice are the factors most associated with whether they seek emergency care, according to the HSC study. “When privately insured people have an urgent medical problem and cannot access their usual physician as quickly as they believe necessary, they frequently will go to hospital emergency departments,” said HSC Senior Researcher Emily Carrier, M.D., co-author of the study with HSC Research Analyst Ellyn R. Boukus, M.A. “The findings indicate timely access to primary care clinicians and lower cost settings that can provide a moderate intensity of care and urgent response time likely could reduce emergency department use.”

Only rarely did respondents cite convenience as a reason for choosing ED care. Moreover, people who reported that their primary doctor offered rapid access to advice and visits were significantly less likely to use emergency departments and, instead, relied on their primary clinician for urgent medical needs. However, the majority of respondents indicated they lacked this level of primary care access.


Cerner to Provide Easy to Follow Pediatric Instructions

Cerner Corp. is offering KidsHealth® pediatric-specific discharge and after care instructions to Cerner clients. The KidsHealth instructions, created exclusively for pediatrics, are available in the current Cerner Millennium® Patient Education Content in English and Spanish. KidsHealth, the largest licensor of online pediatric health information, provides medical expertise from a physician-directed, professional editorial staff that makes complex and sensitive medical topics understandable.

KidsHealth discharge and after care Instructions are written in a comforting, parent-friendly style. The instructions include informative illustrations of children and icons that divide sections to make information easy to follow. The library includes topics appropriate for inpatient, emergency department, outpatient, specialty, and primary care use. Instructions may be edited by clinicians as needed.

“This new offering for our clients takes into account the critical role that parents and caregivers play in achieving the best health outcomes,” said Dr. Daphne Bascom, Cerner vice president and chief medical information officer. “Pediatric patients typically need specific instructions that differ from care instructions for adults, which makes it even more important to provide instructions that are clear and easy to understand.”

For more information about KidsHealth, please visit


Couchersizing During TV Time Builds Muscle, Protects Mobility

Many people lack the motivation to get off the couch and exercise. For them, couchersizing is one way to get moving, reports the December 2013 Harvard Health Letter. That means staying on or near the couch and exercising while watching television.

“A growing body of literature connects the amount of time you spend sitting to illness, and even death. Minimizing long periods of inactivity, like exercising during commercial breaks, can help reduce the risk of injury and may even help you live longer,” says Kailin Collins, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

It’s possible to work many different muscle groups while seated on the couch. To boost heart rate, work the oblique muscles on the sides of the abdomen. To whittle the waist, twist your torso from side to side for the length of a commercial break. It’s also possible to exercise while lying on the couch. With your legs extended, squeeze the quadriceps on the front of the thigh for a count of ten, and then relax. Repeat several times. Try leg lifts while lying flat to build abs, or side lifts to strengthen hip muscles. Other examples of couchersizing include:

  • Sit to stand
  • Calf stretches
  • Standing on one leg
  • Shoulder blade squeeze
  • Hand squeeze

Of course, it’s also a good practice to walk around the room with arms a-swinging while watching a show or during commercials. The more movement, the more your heart, muscles, brain, and the rest of the body will benefit. Read the full-length article: “Easy exercises for couch potatoes.”


Ambulatory Care Nursing Conference Tackles Hot Topics in Healthcare

The American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) will host its 39th Annual Conference at the Marriott New Orleans in New Orleans, LA, May 19-22, 2014. Attendees will receive education specific to ambulatory care and telehealth nursing. In addition, they will earn continuing nursing education (CNE) contact hours, view posters, visit the exhibit hall, and network.

Sessions run from Tuesday, May 20, to Thursday, May 22, with pre-conference workshops offered on Monday and Tuesday, May 19-20: “Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification Review Course” and “Best Practices in Nursing: Self Care for Better Patient Care.” There will also be a tri-service military pre-conference evening forum and networking session. Donna Wright, MS, RN, will give the conference keynote address, “Leadership and Resiliency.”


Nursing Economic$ Takes a Critical Look at Nurse Staffing Excellence

“Nurse staffing in a world of healthcare reform and accountable care is uncertain and creates fear not only for the nurse leaders, but all RNs. Including all RNs in conversations, visioning, and problem solving for the future will best prepare the profession for our role in caring for our patients,” said Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, FRCN.

Dr. Aiken discussed the impact of research on nurse staffing in an in-depth interview published in Nursing Economic$ in its third annual special issue on staffing excellence, Beyond the Numbers.

This special issue addresses how new methods, measures, and metrics of nurse staffing reflect the dynamics of the healthcare environment, drawing greater attention to patients as “users” and healthcare providers as “managers” of patient care needs, explains Editor Donna Nickitas.

With penalizing hospitals for readmission rates and reporting poor patient satisfaction, a business case exists for staffing effectiveness. Rather than prescribe fixed numeric ratios for nurse staffing, laws like the Illinois Nurse Staffing by Patient Acuity Act, give nurses a voice in their hospital staffing plans. The article, “Nurse Staffing: The Illinois Experience,” can serve as an example for other states as nursing leaders debate nurse staffing with legislators.Save