- CATEGORIES: Doctors and Hospitals,Technology,Technology for Nurses,Technology for Providers
- No comments
By Dr. Charu G. Raheja, TriageLogic CEO
Dr. Ravi Raheja, TriageLogic COO and Medical Director
The landscape of medicine is changing. As health care dollars become less available or are distributed differently, hospitals and organizations are consolidating their practices to create a network of primary care physicians and specialists. Larger groups provide economy of scale, a good referral source, and established branding in the community.
However, an increase in size presents a challenge in terms of providing a uniform patient experience throughout the system, as well as helping callers navigate the system effectively. Organizations want to help patients as much as possible on the first phone call, regardless of the reason for the call. Patients may call to talk to a triage nurse about a symptom, request an appointment for a physician referral, a medication refill, or billing questions. How do you manage these requests without transferring them three times only to get sent back to the initial operator?
Medical Call Center Consolidation and Cloud-Based Technology may be the answer.
Many people ask – what is cloud-based technology?
The cloud is simply the latest term for a concept that has been around for a while – web-based email and online banking are examples of cloud-based technology.
Cloud is a term that refers to applications, services or resources made available to users on demand via the Internet from a provider’s servers. Companies typically use cloud-based computing as a way to increase capacity, enhance functionality or add additional services on demand without having to commit to potentially expensive infrastructure costs, or increase or re-train in-house support staff.
Providers can offer end users immediate access to new, always-on features from nearly any device in any location. They also provide the business a predictable, subscription-based, pay-per-use way to fund IT.
So how does this apply to a medical call center?
Imagine the following scenario. A diabetic patient is concerned because he has high blood sugar readings even though he has been using his medicines as directed. He has a primary care physician, an endocrinologist and a cardiologist. He has the number for the cardiologist handy, so he calls him first. Near the end of the day, the office calls back and tells him to call the endocrinologist instead. He calls, but it is already late and he gets the answering service. The patient has to wait 24 hours before getting a response to his medical question.
Now what if patients were told to call a SINGLE number for ALL their providers? The initial operator taking the call could see that they have a medical symptom, in this case, high blood sugar. The operator puts them in touch with a triage nurse who determines that the situation is not an emergency, but the patient needs to be seen in a week. The nurse can see in the system that they have an endocrinologist, a cardiologist and a primary care physician. The nurse makes an appointment with the endocrinologist and advises the patient about what to do while they are waiting for their appointment. The triage note is put in the system for the primary care physician so they know that the patient had called and has an appointment set up for the endocrinologist next week. While the nurse is triaging the patient, they also see that the patient has a cardiologist, but it has been a year since the last visit. She schedules a cardiology appointment as well and emails the patient information about nutrition classes provided by the hospital.
Is this technology available now?
The answer is yes. To reach this level of service, the organization needs:
- A Single EMR system: A single EMR system lets providers and operators across the system access the entire patient chart to provide coordinated care. Many EMR systems are web-based (we now know this is also called cloud-based) and can be accessed securely from multiple locations and devices.
- A Centralized Medical Call Center: A single point of entry into the system, where the operators have scripts and training to handle a variety of caller needs and can answer questions or direct callers to the most appropriate person.
- Cloud-Based Call Center Technology: Web-based systems have a more flexible design to interact and exchange data with other web-based systems. The traditional medical call center platform with a single vendor may no longer be the most efficient way to get the functionality required to perform all functions. The medical call center can build a robust platform by obtaining multiple components from vendors who have specialized products and have them work together. This approach enhances functionality, because the most appropriate product can be selected for the organization. Components can be changed or added over time, depending on the evolving needs of the medical call center.
Coordinating health care among different providers has been a struggle and an issue for several decades now. New, cloud based technology along with a centralized medical call center is a viable solution that can help doctors and patients stay coordinated, while at the same time improving patient care and decreasing costs.
What to Read Next: Developing the Role of Call Centers in Coordinate Care