The July 2016 Issue

MedCall Plus: medical support center

Set Realistic Expectations for Your Call Center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I’m a planner. I can’t help it.

The problem is that things seldom go as planned. After a while, I began padding my plans for the unexpected. Sometimes the cushion was enough; other times, not so much.

Consider air travel. I used to have the expectation that airline schedules were an accurate representation of what would happen. When airlines began padding their schedules to boast a higher on-time arrival rate, I was still often disappointed. Eventually, I realized a more reasonable attitude was to assume the plane would be late and to celebrate each on-time arrival.

Let’s say a trip has two flights there and two flights back. Assume each flight has an on-time arrival of 70 percent. That means for the two flights to get to your destination, you only have a 49 percent chance that both flights will be on time. To include your return flights, you only have a 24 percent chance of all four planes being on time. And if you have three flights (two hubs) in each direction and all six have a 70 percent on-time arrival, your odds of all six being on time drop to 11 percent. Therefore, it’s highly likely you will encounter a delay at some point during your journey.

However, in setting realistic expectations, I assume a problem will occur, which reduces my chances of disappointment. This isn’t pessimism versus optimism; it’s realism.

We likewise need to set realistic expectations for our call center. Whether it’s technology, staff, or callers, we shouldn’t expect everything to go as expected every time. Having a realistic expectation helps us accept glitches and not let them ruin our outlook.

Setting realistic expectations reduces stress and increases contentment. And every call center, and every call center manager, will benefit when this occurs.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D., 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.

Why Healthcare Professionals Are Making the Big Shift

By Dr. Liza Alcances MD

A healthcare career is considered one of the noblest of careers in the Philippines. It is not unusual to ask a child about his dream career and get an answer of doctor or nurse. Doctors and nurses in the family are treated as heroes, more so those who ply their trade in foreign shores.

The Supply and Demand of Filipino Nurses: Filipino nurses have been working abroad since the 1970s, but it was not until the early 2000s that the demand for nurses grew to epic proportions. Anywhere in the world, there was a job waiting for a Filipino RN. The US was a big destination, enticing Filipino RNs to make an exodus to the “promised land.” Other countries in the Middle East and in Europe soon opened their borders to Filipino nurses.

In 2005, around 50,000 nurses took the local Nursing Licensure Exam. This ballooned to 175,000 in 2010, most aiming to pass both local and US board exams. But by 2015, only 36,391 nursing students took the Nurse Licensure Exam. Schools that had as many as thirty sections per batch saw a big decrease in enrollments; some nursing schools closed altogether.

The law of supply and demand had prevailed. The talent pool was over-saturated. Locally, the hospitals could not afford to employ all the graduates, with some unscrupulous ones taking advantage of the oversupply by requiring payment from RNs to work in their hospitals as volunteers. The increased demand for a US visa in the nursing classification led to a retrogression – visas for foreign nurses were used up, and without them the nurses could not work in the US. The European Union prioritized applicants from member countries. The Middle East still employed nurses, but preferred those with work experience.

By 2008, there were about 100,000 unemployed or underemployed nurses in the Philippines, growing to around 200,000 by 2011. Lacking options in the healthcare field, nurses opted to seek employment elsewhere. Some found employment in the burgeoning BPO/call center industry and some went to small healthcare BPO companies.

The Rise of the HIMS Industry: Around the same time, the Healthcare BPO industry in the Philippines was slowly making its presence known. Following the remarkable growth of the BPO industry, the healthcare information management service (HIMS) space started to blossom, powered by the healthcare professionals who entered the workforce because they did not find a place in the clinics. They had the desired skills – a combination of western-based medical education and English language fluency. In addition, many of the nurses were USRN’s, proof that they meet US certification standards and allowing them to work on US documents.

The growth of the Philippine HIMS industry is nothing short of phenomenal. From generating $102 million in 2010, it grew exponentially, reaching the $1 billion mark in 2013. It ended 2015 with revenue approaching $1.8 billion. The 30,000 full-time employees (FTEs) in 2013 doubled to 60,000 in 2014. By 2015, the workforce was around 116,000 strong, composed of healthcare professionals, a majority of which are nurses. The industry has attracted companies from all over the world, with a lot more companies entering the Philippine BPO space.

The Philippine HIMS industry was the answer to the plight of unemployed and underemployed nurses, and the nurses did not let it down. As its progress continues to rise, other healthcare professionals are also making the shift. Pharmacists, doctors, physical therapists, dentists, and other healthcare professionals will find that there is a place for them here.

Dr. Liza Alcances MD, RN, CPC, CPC-I, CIC, is the assistant manager, training – healthcare at TeleDevelopment Services.

Healthcare Call Center News

Health Navigator Adds Spanish and German: Health Navigator expanded the language capabilities of its diagnostic platform to include Spanish and German translations to increase access to telehealth solutions for providers and patients. This makes it easier for non-English speaking patients to utilize e-health tools and applications, ensuring greater accuracy when they use virtual care.

“We are making it easier for healthcare providers to engage and facilitate communication with patients along the healthcare continuum,” said Dr. Thompson, MD, founder and CEO of Health Navigator. Additionally updates are in progress to add simplified Chinese and French language capabilities. There is no additional charge for secondary language functionality for Health Navigator clients.

8 In 10 ER Docs Say Patients Sacrifice Care Because of Out-Of-Pocket Costs: Nine in ten emergency physicians responding to a new poll say that health insurance companies are misleading patients by offering affordable premiums for policies that actually cover very little. Nearly all (96 percent) said that emergency patients do not understand what their policies cover for emergency care.

According to the poll, eight in ten emergency physicians are seeing patients with health insurance who have sacrificed or delayed medical care because of high out-of-pocket costs, co-insurance, or high deductibles. This is more than a 10 percent increase over six months ago when emergency physicians were asked the same question.

This survey was conducted online in the United States by Marketing General Incorporated on behalf of the American College of Emergency Physicians between April 4-11, 2016, among 1,924 emergency physicians in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, providing a response rate of 7 percent and a margin of error of 2.2 percent.

Syntel Strengthens Delivery Capabilities for Health Insurers: Syntel, Inc. announced that it has enhanced its ability to deliver technology solutions for healthcare insurers by achieving Gold partner certification status in theHealthEdge Strategic Partner Program. HealthEdge provides the only integrated financial, administrative, and clinical platform for health insurers.

To achieve Gold partner certification status, Syntel resources completed in-depth classroom and hands-on training on the HealthRules product suite, providing them with valuable experience and expertise related to the key aspects of HealthRules implementations.

“By becoming a Gold-level strategic partner, Syntel has demonstrated its commitment and ability to deploy well-trained and experienced HealthRules technical resources at health insurance organizations across the country,” said Ray Desrochers, Chief Marketing Officer of HealthEdge.

Harley Street Concierge to Centrally Manage Remote Call Centre Agents: Sesui, provider of cloud-based telephony and contact center technology, is enabling Harley Street Concierge to securely monitor and improve the patient experience provided by its geographically dispersed network of call center agents.

Harley Street Concierge, a private cancer support services provider, helps patients suffering with cancer to access the most appropriate doctors, testing, and treatment they might otherwise be unaware of or unable to organize. Call center agents are the first point of contact with Harley Street Concierge and play a vital role in setting the standard for the quality of service and support patients will come to receive.

Stuart Lees, head of operations, Harley Street Concierge, comments: “Given the sensitive nature of our calls, the manner in which call center agents interact with our patients and their professionalism when communicating our services, is of upmost importance. With agents located all over the UK, however, it was crucial for us to implement a method of call recording that could be used independent of location and across both mobile and land lines.”

A Thought For Today

“History is a vast early warning system.” -Norman Cousins