The March 2014 Issue

Implementing Change in Your Call Center

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

The first step to establish a change-oriented culture in your call center is to minimize employee fears about change. Employees can accept change if 1) the change is incremental or small; 2) they have a degree of input or control over the change; and 3) the change is clearly understood by all.

The key is communication. Address change head on. With every change, employees wonder how it could affect them. Is their position in jeopardy? Might their hours be cut or their shift changed? Maybe they’ll need to work harder. Perhaps they’ll be asked to do something they find unpleasant. What happens if they can’t learn the needed skills?

These are all worries about the unknown. As with most worries, the majority will never happen, but with a lack of accurate information and management assurances, these irrational worries soon dominate everyone’s thoughts.

Communication must also be ongoing – not just to key staff, but to all staff; not by one method, but many: group meetings, internal blogs, memos, and one-on-one discussions. An open door policy helps, too. Also critical is a positive attitude and unwavering commitment from leadership. Celebrate milestones, thank staff at each step, and provide rewards at the end.

Taking these steps sends a strong signal to employees. Even though the change may still concern them, they’ll take comfort knowing they have accurate expectations about the changes. And with each successful change, the next one becomes easier to bring about.

You’ll know you’ve created a change-friendly organization when employees grow bored with the status quo and actually anticipate the next change. At this point, the potential of your call center balloons, your staff grows, and the future beckons. No one knows for sure what that future will entail – only that things will change for the better. So, sit back and enjoy the ride as an agent of change.

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.

What You Don’t Know Could Cause You to Lose Your Nursing License

Nurse attorney offers valuable resource to help nurses protect their careers

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, boards placed more than 4,000 nurses on probation in 2013, while 4,985 nurses had their licenses suspended and 2,021 had their licenses revoked. Nurse attorney Lorie Brown works to decrease these statistics by instilling nurses with the knowledge they need to take control of their careers.

In her new book, Law and Order for Nurses: The Easy Way to Protect Your License and Your Livelihood, Brown combines her nursing and legal experience, first as a registered nurse and now as a nurse attorney, to empower nurses with important – and often surprising – information necessary to avoid disciplinary issues.

Brown has represented more than 300 nurses before the licensing board over the past twenty years, and she has seen firsthand the embarrassment, regret, and shock experienced by many nurses when reprimanded for what are often simple misunderstandings. This information, Brown says, isn’t taught in nursing school or on the job.

“Unfortunately, many nurses I’ve worked with didn’t even know they were doing anything wrong,” Brown says. “But lack of awareness is not a defense, and the best way to protect yourself is to be informed.”

The conversational, easy-to-understand text uses real stories to illustrate the myriad of reasons nurses get in trouble, along with Brown’s expert advice for avoiding these problems. The book reveals some of the shocking cases Brown has represented, including:

  • A nurse accused of abuse for speaking loudly to a hard-of-hearing patient, and for encouraging another patient to walk ten feet to the bathroom – per a doctor’s orders
  • A narcoleptic nurse who was required to stop taking her necessary medication in order to have her probationary license status lifted
  • A nurse accused of neglect for failing to answer another nurse’s patient’s alarm light when the assigned nurse said she would take care of it
  • A nurse disciplined for a medication error after being required to accept an assignment for which he was not properly trained

Health Navigator’s Solutions Support Telemedicine

Health Navigator, Inc., a telemedicine support organization, announced the availability of natural language processing with coded chief complaints. This patent-pending solution allows a telehealth provider to transform patients’ presenting problems into one or more codified chief complaint with associated clinical priorities and ICD-9/ICD-10 codes. Differential diagnoses are presented to the healthcare provider for review and further discussion with the patient. The product is designed to front-end answering service, telemedicine, or call center operations to improve consistency and accuracy of documentation.

Dr. David Thompson, Health Navigator, Inc., CEO and product architect, stated, “After several years of development and testing, I am very excited to bring this product to market, allowing telehealth and other digital health companies to convert a narrative presenting complaint into data – that is, coded chief complaints. Not only will the natural language processing engine improve consistent documentation and provide clinical decision support, the data can be used to front-end operational processes and initiate clinical pathways. In the age of big data this previously untapped data source can be used for reporting, quality improvement, and syndromic surveillance.”

For more information, contact Health Navigator, Inc. at 602-549-2583 or

TriageLogic Pursues URAC Accreditation

TriageLogic, a telephone nurse triage company, has applied for the health call center accreditation from URAC, a Washington, DC-based healthcare accrediting organization that establishes quality standards for the healthcare industry. URAC health call center standards assure that registered nurses, physicians, or other validly licensed individuals perform the clinical aspects of triage and other health information services in a manner that is timely, confidential, and includes medically appropriate care and treatment advice.

“We invested a lot of time and effort to ensure that our services meet high quality standards for nurse triage,” said TriageLogic CEO, Charu Raheja, PhD. “The URAC accreditation exemplifies our commitment to competence and quality.”

“TriageLogic should be commended for its decision to be reviewed under URAC’s strict quality standards,” said URAC chief operating officer William Vandervennet. “It is critically important for healthcare organizations to make a commitment to quality and accountability.”

Panviva Expands Healthcare Team Amid Industry Push for Improved Patient Satisfaction

Panviva Inc., a provider of business process guidance software, announced the appointment of Michael Weise, a former IBM solution sales executive, as healthcare business development director. He is responsible for expanding and supporting the Panviva healthcare customer base.

“National headlines have documented the strain that the crush of calls from people seeking health insurance coverage under the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act has put on contact centers. Some of the biggest health plans are struggling under the weight,” said Weise. “[Panviva’s] SupportPoint can help in two critical ways: by organizing, curating, and providing access to relevant information so that customer-facing employees can quickly and fully answer questions, and by providing the unlimited scalability of cloud software to meet any call volume. The end result is increased contact center productivity and performance.”

“Michael’s leadership and industry experience accelerates our ability to meet the significant healthcare sector demand for IT solutions that deliver operational and clinical benefits while meeting regulatory requirements,” said Stephen Pappas, senior vice president of North American operations for Panviva.

New CommonPath Nurse Call Reporting Solution Launched at HIMSS

Critical Alert Systems introduced its new CommonPath™ reporting solution during the HIMSS Conference this February in Orlando, Florida. Designed to work with CommonPath nurse call and built-in locating system to monitor, assess, and report on HCAHPS hot points, the new reporting solution provides a complete forensic picture, enabling management to optimize staffing and deliver better patient care.

It offers activity reports accessible from any Internet-enabled computer by authorized staff. Reports are available in summary, graphical, and real-time dashboard format and focus on an individual, unit, facility, or organizational level. Dashboards, driven by the data in the reporting system, provide an at-a-glance indicator of current system and staffing performance metrics. Using these dashboards, hospitals can gain deeper insight into areas with direct impact on HCAHPS, such as response times to patient requests, caregiver call response performance, rounding performance, and workflow analysis

“It’s become increasingly important for hospitals to be able to identify and understand the factors that influence patient satisfaction, caregiver productivity, and workflows,” said Critical Alert CEO Ed Meyercord.

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