The November 2015 Issue

LVM Systems

Increase Your Call Center’s Internal Visibility

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Does upper management consider your healthcare call center a profit center or a cost center? Are you under the control of another department, such as telecommunications, IT, or marketing? Who does your call center director report to? Does that person understand the critical role the call center plays in your organization? Do they comprehend your technological needs and the importance of a reliable infrastructure? Or is their primary concern that you don’t make waves?

Regardless of how your call center fits into your organization, its place in the money stream, your department assignment, or the boss’s affinity for your operation, there is a common need for ongoing, positive visibility. Increased call center visibility is critical for two key areas. The first is budgeting; the second is your center’s ongoing status and viability. Relating to both of these is staffing levels, technology upgrades, and additional software. And then there is respect.

One option is to do nothing and hope for the best, which typically ends in frustration. The other option is to be proactive. Does this mean making demands and becoming a general irritant to upper management? No. But it does mean taking intentional steps to elevate your call center in order to garner the attention of key decision-makers.

Look for ways that other people can do this for you.

Will other departments vouch for you and let everyone know the vital role you play? Has your call center won any awards or garnered positive media attention? Has staff earned new certifications, received advanced training, or attended industry events? Have you, your staff, or your operation been awarded or recognized by your vendor? What about life-saving phone calls? A poignant caller testimonial can accomplish much.

Make sure upper management knows about all of these. Each time you remind them it tips the balance in your favor. Take steps to increase your call center’s internal visibility today so you can enjoy the benefits tomorrow.

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.

Is Artificial Intelligence Ready for the Healthcare Call Center?

By Curt Gooden

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an automated solution gaining traction in the customer contact industry. AI is the culmination of several technologies that have been steadily improving IVR’s performance over the years. It entails utilizing natural speech recognition throughout the call and an “intelligent” brain on the backend to interpret, and even predict, the user’s responses to drive call flow and processing accordingly.

In some industries, like healthcare, where customers might need to select from a variety of solutions – and the customers themselves might be older, speak a different native language, or be otherwise hindered from using the system – AI as an option likely is further out.

As such, AI is not quite ready for wide-scale implementation. The cost of AI will keep it viable only for those larger organizations that either can afford the application or will realize benefits by slicing a few minutes off each call or a few calls from each agent.

It also will find acceptance in certain industries before others. For their part, customers in the travel and hospitality segment are typically more technologically adept and quicker to adopt new solutions.

However, once AI matures, the healthcare industry might realize some of the greatest benefits from it. Along those lines, the cost/benefit analysis of AI is a simple calculation. If a provider is charging by the minute or call, every minute saved or call deflected, translates to savings. In fact, a simple revamping of traditional IVR or an improvement of the call tree can yield cost savings. With AI, the chance to increase deflection can be exponential.

Though comparatively costly now, AI can be a justifiable expense for the right organizations. In time, it will become the industry standard – especially for those organizations hoping to reduce the time agents spend on calls.

Curt Gooden is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at C3/CustomerContactChannels.


Spok Consulting Services Addresses Efficiency: Sentara Healthcare has enhanced operator workflows and improved the efficiency of their call center by more than 12 percent with the help of Spok Consulting Services. This is especially significant because the call center handles a heavy volume and sends more than 300,000 pages per month.

Sentara engaged Spok to examine the non-profit hospital system’s call center processes to recommend improvements to align operator workflows with the latest industry best practices. After discussing project goals, the team delivered a dozen specific action items to help maximize the call center’s paging capabilities and fully utilize system capabilities.

“Although we’ve just begun to implement changes, the consulting engagement has already been an excellent use of our time and resources,” said Greg Walkup, IT director at Sentara Healthcare. “It has been really worthwhile to uncover some things we didn’t know about. We’re also considering bringing Consulting Services back to do a deep dive into the clinical communications at one of our hospitals.”

TriageLogic Releases 2015 Pediatric Office Hours Protocol Update: TriageLogic updated MyTriageChecklist™, which incorporates Barton-Schmitt Pediatric Office-Hours Telephone Triage Protocols. This update adds fifty new protocols to ensure comprehensive symptom coverage and standard of care for any office that handles patient phone calls. The new protocols include a wide variety of symptoms associated with issues such as anxiety, ear piercing, and Ebola protocols (originally released during the 2014 Ebola outbreak). Clients who use MyTriageChecklist always have easy access to updated triage protocols in an electronic format that can be used with any other electronic medical system.

A service provided to all MyTriageChecklist clients is comprehensive training and access to an experienced triage nurse. All clients have the option to attend free weekly training sessions, where a registered nurse with triage experience explains how to use the software and answers questions. As practices hire new nurses, they can attend these sessions, learn how to triage safely in a clinical setting, and apply the content to their practice. This is supplemented by the free telephone triage online learning center, which has comprehensive material for both new and experienced triage nurses.

New Call Center Novel
Butts in the Seat, a call center novel by Ree Miller

A Thought For Today

“Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds – all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.” -Edward Everett Hale