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Client Lessons

Circle hands smBy Eric White

As a Client Services Data Analyst, I spend my days dealing with clients and their issues. I was thinking the other day about a few of our “problem” clients and realized that, in many ways, our “worst” clients are our “best” clients.

Our worst clients are demanding. They call us all the time. They want to be sure that we “get” what they’re wanting and/or needing for both their providers and their patients. They’re constantly in contact with us, on the phone with us, discussing any problems that have arisen, questioning the data on their reports or their patient’s triage charts, and making sure that we received the on-call schedule change or modifying a med order or directive.

Compare these boisterous, time consuming customers to our “best” clients. You know…the quiet ones who run on auto-pilot. We rarely ever hear from them other than our regularly scheduled meetings and conferences. If a minor problem crops up, they send us an email. When we call them, we’re told that somebody will call us back.

Our best clients communicate sporadically with us. Our worst clients communicate with us all the time. And, yes, they do communicate. They tell us what’s going on, how they feel about our service, what we’re doing right. And, if we’re doing something wrong, they want to know what we’re doing to correct it. They’re always doing things ahead of time. They send their on-call schedules before the first of the month. They notify us of closings in advance so that we can schedule staffing. If they have to close suddenly, they call us and apologize profusely for having to do it. They answer our level-of-service surveys.

Our best clients have no demands or requests, apart from an occasional tweak here and there. We routinely ask, but usually they lay low until an issue arises and then we find out that Dr. ABC has not been with the practice since May; that the practice moved last month and has a new phone or fax number; that they’ve changed their answering service protocols; that the on-call schedule we have has been modified; or that our primary contact is no longer there as of yesterday. Oh, and the practice isn’t associated with XYZ Hospital any longer. Our problem clients stay in contact and make sure we have and prove we have their multiple updates. They give us a chance to hone our skills, to make the changes that we often need to make and to improve our services. They ask us to rise to the occasion as a top quality service provider.

If the worse clients bring out the best in us, maybe they’re the better clients in the long run and so I’ve been thinking, which client would I really rather have?


Eric White is a Client Services Data Analyst for TeamHealth Medical Call Center. 

By |December 18, 2012|Blog, Customer Service|Comments Off on Client Lessons

TeamHealth Acquires Mobile Emergency Group

Dec. 19, 2012   Team Health Holdings (NYSE: TMH) announced continued growth in its Alabama operations through acquisition of the practice of Mobile Emergency Group, PC (MEG).  Read more.

By |December 18, 2012|News & Events|Comments Off on TeamHealth Acquires Mobile Emergency Group

It Depends On What “Is” Is

By Wendy Smith

A Story of Post-Discharge Compliance

Hospitals are under pressure from Medicare to curb readmissions. Yet, once a patient is discharged, they are outside of the control of the provider. Correlations between social-economic factors have already been linked to readmissions. And, as further studies are done, identification of social-economic elements may help hospitals identify those most at risk. These factors influence behavior and also cause miscommunication by the simple fact that everyone’s life experience colors the way they view and move through the world.nurse with doctor sm

Here’s my personal story. I had a nephrectomy several years ago and was in the hospital for three days. When my urologist was giving me my discharge instructions, he told me that I needed to walk and not just lie on the couch. So upon returning to my home, I talked my neighbor and good friend into walking with me. I could barely sit up by myself, let alone walk, but we went to the end of the street and back, which was about a mile. It was slow going and painful, but we did it again for the next 4 days with my neighbor saying, “I don’t think you should be doing this,” the whole time and me replying that my doctor told me to walk. She made me promise to ask him about this during my follow-up appointment.

At my follow-up appointment, I mentioned my daily walk to my physician. He was horrified that I’d been outside in December shuffling a mile or so a day right after major surgery. He had meant he wanted me to walk to the living room or kitchen or otherwise move occasionally, not hike the neighborhood! I’m a smart girl, but my urologist and I still had a disconnect based on the social factors of age and lifestyle. He told me what he tells any patient after a nephrectomy. But as a runner who exercises frequently, “walk” had a different meaning to me than it does for most of his patients who are much older and probably more sedate. Luckily, our miscommunication did not cause a readmission or complication, but under different circumstances the outcome might have been different. This experience demonstrated to me how easily discharge instructions and other medical information can be misunderstood.

While providers are implementing various discharge programs to ensure compliance and prevent re-admission, many of them are only focused on the higher risk patient and a life style assessment may not be part of that program. A post discharge call back program can initiate contact with all patients, not just those at risk. On the day I received my post discharge instructions, I thought I knew exactly what my doctor’s orders were, yet I was way off the mark and all because of my interpretation of the word walk. If a patient representative or nurse had called me the day after surgery and inquired about my compliance, I would have reported my trek and received corrected instruction the day after my hospital discharge instead of a week later.

Post discharge and readmission prevention programs can review care plans for compliance, determine and escalate a need for intervention and schedule follow-up calls. Outsourcing these types of patient experience and engagement programs often makes sense for a hospital whose staff doesn’t have the time or resources to initiate such a task. Thorough post discharge calls take time and sometimes multiple calls must be made to make contact, which can be very hard on in-house staff. Outsourced medical call centers already have the staff and technology in place to implement patient engagement programs easily and efficiently. And with the stakes as high as they are now, reaching out to newly discharged patients makes sense if for no other reason than to find out if they understand their doctor’s instructions.


Wendy Smith

Wendy Smith

By |December 7, 2012|Blog, Patient Engagement|Comments Off on It Depends On What “Is” Is