Move from Crisis Mode to Intentional Action
Failing to Prepare Is Preparation for Failure
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
Most medical call centers scrambled during the past year to adapt to ever-changing protocols. This includes adjusting to meet caller expectations, appropriately scheduling staff while ensuring their safety, and handling more calls than usual. As a result, a day-to-day survival mentality has emerged in many operations. Just handle the next phone call, get through the day unscathed, and return tomorrow to do it again.
If we’re not intentional, we could find ourselves mired in this mode for a long time. The solution is to take initiative to inform our future so that it doesn’t force us into maintaining this uncomfortable status quo. Our future starts today.
Take time to consider what happens next.
Adapt a Dual-Strategy Mentality: While we all hope to one day return to normal, many people wonder if we ever will. Although our current situation could persist into the future, we could also morph into a new normal that falls midway between what was and what is.
Since we don’t know what will happen, our strategy should account for both possibilities. Though this requires extra work, demanding time that we may not have to give to it, it’s worth the effort to plan for two scenarios: 1) how we can best move back to how things used to be, and 2) how we can best move forward into a new way of doing business. Plan today to prepare for either possibility.
Platform: How well has your call center system performed in the past twelve months? If it’s handled everything you’ve thrown at it with ease and excellence, then you have a firm foundation from which to move forward.
If, however, a few cracks emerged in performance or capability, this is the time to plan for needed upgrades or a system replacement. Even if your call center platform performed well prior to the pandemic, you’ll expect more from it even if we’re able to return to the way things used to be.
Do what you need to do now to make sure you have the technological infrastructure in place to move into the future, whatever that may look like.
Staffing: Though some call centers have had a distributed workforce or been virtual for years, many in the healthcare call center arena have been reluctant to send their agents home to work. Though a centrally located staff is easier to manage, it’s increasingly hard for most operations to staff.
Having the flexibility to tap into a home-based workforce—whether home-bound out of necessity or preference—may be the only solution for some call centers to fully staff their operation. If you’re not able to accommodate off-premise workers, take the needed steps to be able to move in that direction if or when needed.
Conclusion: Though it’s understandably easy to continue functioning in a crisis mode, it’s critical to take initiative today to prepare for a better tomorrow.
Remote Patient Monitoring and the Future of Remote Nurse Triage
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 providers.
In the United States, six in ten adults 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.
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.
Email TriageLogic at firstname.lastname@example.org to get details about MyTriageChecklist and its reporting features.
Send us your healthcare call center articles and news for the next issue of Medical Call Center News.
A Thought for Today
Anger is a great force. If you control it, it can be transmuted into a power which can move the whole world. -William Shenstone