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Vice President of Business Development, Karen Brown’s Article Recently Featured in Connections Magazine

Article Recently Featured in Connections Magazine

Recently, TeamHealth’s Vice President of Business Development, Karen Brown, RN, wrote an article that was featured on the cover of Connections Magazine’s March/April 2018 issue. We are excited to share her article below, or you can read the original article on Connections Magazine’s website here.

From Efficiency to Experience: Three Major Benefits of a Medical Call Center Partnership

A medical call center partnership contributes to Organizational Efficiency.

Organizational Efficiency is defined as the ability to implement plans using the smallest possible expenditure of resources. It is an important factor in organizational effectiveness and vital to the healthcare industry which continues to experience increasing operating costs and smaller bottom lines.

Medicare expansion and the ACA have contributed to significant increases in patient populations that are a) expensive to treat, and b) provide minimal financial return. This increase can strain an organization seeking to provide adequate post-discharge care, which can result in costly avoidable readmissions.

As patient loads and associated risks increase and reimbursement decreases, the ability to achieve Organizational Efficiency becomes more and more challenging. However, providing the highest possible quality patient care at the lowest possible operating expense can be possible with the assistance of a medical call center. By partnering with a call center’s team of Registered Nurses specially trained in telephone triage, organizations can save a significant amount of time and cost associated with adding staff while reducing the risk of unnecessary readmissions and inappropriate utilization of care.

Telehealth and related services are a large part of a very bright future.

It is no secret that telehealth services and telemedicine are becoming increasingly popular due to the financial benefits they provide. Combined with federal policy changes (MACRA and MIPS) that address care planning and risk assessment – significantly effecting reimbursement in the process – telemedicine is poised to drive more revenue from virtual care directly to hospitals and healthcare organizations. And this is just the beginning: according to a recent report from Grand View Research, the telemedicine market is expected to top $113 billion by 2025.

While telehealth currently focuses on a range of primary care services, the rising occurrences of chronic conditions, as well as the increasing demand for self-care and remote monitoring, are significant factors driving telehealth growth. Healthcare organizations that add new primary care options will be able to reduce costs, create new services while remotely offering existing ones to more of their patient populations.

Partnering with a medical call center provides a healthcare organization with access to established chronic care, self-care and remote monitoring programs, eliminating significant labor costs. It is vital to find a call center with outbound service offerings that include a variety of chronic care and follow-up, post-discharge call programs, including prescription/medicine reconciliation, self-care plan adherence and follow-up appointment scheduling.

Patient (and Provider) Satisfaction = Quality of Care.

In today’s world, people have a multitude of choices when it comes to their care. Because of this, it is vital for healthcare organizations and providers to get every aspect of the patient experience right. Providing the correct medical care is not the only factor contributing to a positive experience. From the initial appointment setting call to the final communication between a patient and provider/organization, every experience contributes to the overall satisfaction and quality of care a patient receives.

One of the largest factors contributing to patient satisfaction is access to care. We live in a 24/7 world and having access to definitive medical care at all times is a standard patient expectation. Providing that level of access is challenging and often costly; not providing that level of access leaves patients feeling less empowered and engaged, which in turn can lead to poor experiences and even poorer satisfaction scores. A partnership with a medical call center gives patients access to definitive medical care 24/7/365 at much lower costs.

Another factor contributing to patient satisfaction is the quality of relationship with their caregiver(s). Patients expect to be engaged in decision involving their care. This includes open communication with nurses and providers involved in that care. If patients do not feel as though their concerns have been heard and taken seriously, they feel less confident in the care they receive, resulting in a negative experience – even if the outcome is positive.

It is not uncommon for providers to become overwhelmed with consistently increasing workloads in a 24/7 environment. This can lead to frustration and burnout, which is often evident in their interactions with patients. Utilizing a medical call center to cover all after hours calls carves the 24/7 access out of the provider’s core responsibilities. This is a powerful physician recruitment and retention game changer. In short, happy providers have more positive interactions with their patients, which result in higher patient engagement and satisfaction.

While no healthcare organization wants a patient to have a negative experience for any reason, there is a new factor regarding patient satisfaction that demands attention. Since the inception of value-based purchasing, the definition of a successful patient experience has been redefined. Now, 30% of the overall quality of care is attributed to patient satisfaction. This means patient satisfaction survey scores directly impact an organization’s bottom line. The shift to pay-for-performance also means that reimbursements are tied to the quality of care that is delivered.  Hospitals that provide a higher quality of care than their peers will receive reimbursement incentives, and hospitals that provide a lower quality of care will be penalized.

This is perhaps the most beneficial aspect of partnering with a medical call center. Providing positive experiences for both patient and provider can drastically improve overall patient satisfaction and outcomes, leading to a higher overall quality of care and the related financial rewards.

Ultimately, the provision of appropriate, quality care to achieve positive outcomes is the goal of all healthcare organizations. Making that a possibility, while taking into account organizational needs, government regulations, and patient experience can be difficult and costly. Partnering with a medical call center provides access to high quality care at the lowest cost possible.

 

Karen BrownKaren Brown, RN, is the VP of Business Development for TeamHealth Medical Call Center. 

 

 

By |October 2, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on Vice President of Business Development, Karen Brown’s Article Recently Featured in Connections Magazine

It’s Back: Flu Season 2018-19

The TeamHeath Medical Call Center (THMCC) is one of the country’s most established, reputable and sought after providers of telephone nurse triage clinical care. Esteemed clients include academic medical centers, large multi-specialty practices, FQHCs, health plans and university student health services.

For more than 22 years and 11 million successfully managed calls, our team of highly skilled registered nurses know one thing is for certain: every year, the flu returns to wreak havoc on patients, providers, and all aspects of healthcare in general.

As you are reading this, the 2018-19 FLU SEASON is already beginning its annual intrusion.

THMCC is mindful of the valued role the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plays in the management of influenza. We are proud to share the following pieces of vital information obtained from the CDC as well as the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding flu management:

Last year’s outbreak was the worst in a decade. The CDC ranked it as a high severity season that started in November of 2017 and extended through March 2018. There were 30,453 laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations in the United States.

The flu is devastating to the old and young. People 65 years and older accounted for approximately 58% of reported influenza-associated hospitalizations. As of August 25, 2018, a total of 180 pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during the 2017-2018 season. Approximately 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination prior to or during that season.

Getting vaccinated in the most impactful, preventative measure to alleviate the effects of the flu. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza and its potentially serious complications. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Also, there is data to suggest that even if someone gets sick after vaccination, their illness may be milder. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: Fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Do insurance plans have to pay for flu vaccines? The HHS website states that flu and other vaccines are required to be covered by your health insurance without charging a co-payment or coinsurance, but be sure to check with your insurance company to find out if you must go to a specific facility to receive the vaccine. Some insurance plans only cover vaccines given by your doctor or at specific locations.

Experience is the best teacher. THMCC has more than 22 years of experience gained from caring for millions of patients. Preparation and compliance with the CDC recommendations will result in the best possible health outcomes we will all face during the upcoming 2018-19 FLU SEASON.


Gina Tabone, MSN, RNC serves as the Vice President of Strategic Clinical Solutions for the TeamHealth Medical Call Center.

Prior to joining TeamHealth, she served as the Administrator of Cleveland Clinic’s NURSE on CALL 24/7 nurse triage program. Under her direction, ED utilization declined, continuous care coordination improved, performance metric targets dropped from 33% ABD to less than 5%, URAC accreditation was achieved, and the call center grew from covering 350 physicians to the integration of more than 1,500 employed and affiliated providers.

By |September 11, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on It’s Back: Flu Season 2018-19

TEAMHEALTH MEDICAL CALL CENTER EARNS FULL URAC ACCREDITATION AS A HEALTH CALL CENTER

The designation demonstrates the highest level of commitment to quality healthcare

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – The TeamHealth Medical Call Center (THMCC) is proud to announce that it has earned URAC accreditation as a Health Call Center. URAC is the independent leader in promoting healthcare quality through accreditation, certification and measurement. By achieving this status, THMCC has demonstrated a comprehensive commitment to quality care, improved processes and better patient outcomes.

With 22 years of experience and more than 11 million triage calls taken, the TeamHealth Medical Call Center is the premier provider of medical call center services, partnering with more than 10,000 physicians, healthcare systems, health plans, university health centers and employers across the United States.

“We believe nothing is more important than providing the highest level of telephone nurse triage possible,” said TeamHealth Medical Call Center President Cindy Reed. “Our ongoing partnership with URAC reinforces that belief and helps us as we continue to identify and implement improvements to our call center services.”

“Health call centers are a vital part of providing more accountable and value-based care. URAC’s independent Health Call Center Accreditation makes the TeamHealth Medical Call Center a better provider of services through quality standards that stress having professional staff who can handle patients with efficiency and effectiveness,” said URAC President and CEO Kylanne Green.

THMCC has been continuously URAC accredited since 2004. For additional information regarding URAC Accreditation, please visit their website at www.urac.org. To learn how THMCC can provide solutions for your unique medical call center needs, visit our website at www.teamhealthcallcenter.com or call us at 888.203.1118.

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About URAC
Founded in 1990, URAC is the independent leader in promoting healthcare quality through leadership, accreditation, measurement and innovation. URAC is a nonprofit organization using evidence-based measures and developing standards through inclusive engagement with a range of stakeholders committed to improving the quality of healthcare. Our portfolio of accreditation and certification programs span the healthcare industry, addressing healthcare management, healthcare operations, health plans, pharmacies, telehealth providers, physician practices, and more. URAC accreditation is a symbol of excellence for organizations to showcase their validated commitment to quality and accountability.

By |May 25, 2018|News & Events|Comments Off on TEAMHEALTH MEDICAL CALL CENTER EARNS FULL URAC ACCREDITATION AS A HEALTH CALL CENTER

Becker’s Hospital Review Names TeamHealth Among “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare” for Fourth Consecutive Year

KNOXVILLE, TENN –  TeamHealth, a leading clinician services organization, was named among “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare” by Becker’s Hospital Review for the fourth consecutive year.

“We are honored to be included once again in ‘Becker’s 150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare,’” said Leif Murphy, president and CEO of TeamHealth. “This recognition is a direct reflection of our engaged teams who are dedicated to the company priorities of clinical quality, patient safety and operational excellence. Our exceptional leadership continues to promote a professional, positive culture, and TeamHealth’s inclusion on this list as a top place to work is evidence of our team commitment to an outstanding work environment.”

Every year, Becker’s Hospital Review shares this list developed through nominations and editorial research to recognize 150 hospitals, health systems and healthcare companies for promoting diversity within the workforce, employee engagement and professional growth as well as offering competitive wellness and personal benefits to encourage positive work-life balance.

For additional information and a full list of organizations on this list, click here.

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By |April 18, 2018|News & Events|Comments Off on Becker’s Hospital Review Names TeamHealth Among “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare” for Fourth Consecutive Year

The Trifecta of Working From Home

The option of working from home is an offering that is commonplace in a variety of industries such as hospitality, banking, retail, and finally – healthcare. Almost one-third American employees work at home – at least part of the time. The discipline of nursing has perfected the remote care of patients over the past decade and is one of the most in-demand clinical service lines in the continuum of care. This article will highlight why and how the “The Trifecta” is beneficial to 1) the patient, 2) the nurses/healthcare workers, and 3) the organization.

If you are feeling skeptical about the cost and logistics, allow me to explain. The implementation and equipment costs are often less than the cost of the real state and boarding expense of an in-house worker. McKesson, the American Healthcare company estimates a savings of $2 million annually since allowing employees to work at home. Training and access to resources including charge nurse support parallels what is available to brick and mortar located staff and for all your operations people- the ability to monitor and supervise the performance and productivity of work at home staff is just as accurate, if not better than the activity in a traditional setting. Here are the winners and the reasons why:

PATIENTS

  • A sign of an organization that is committed to providing exceptional patient experiences is one that provides their patients access to 24/7 nurse triage services. Market studies indicate today’s consumers want what they want when they want it–including clinical care. Providing patients with the option to speak directly to a triage nurse at any time is now an industry expectation. A high percentage of this work is done by nurses working from home. One of the most established medical call centers in the USA currently has 85% of their nursing team practicing out of their homes. In many cases, the outcome does not involve a trip to the ED. Patients don’t need to leave their homes, drive across town to a network facility or wait in a crowded waiting room for hours waiting to be seen.  Telephone Nurse Triage can definitely enrich your patients’ experiences while providing optimal outcomes. Patient satisfaction improves!
  • With nurses working from home and when a patient feels the need to talk to a nurse, regardless of the time day has the potential to ensure that once a thorough assessment is performed by the skilled RN and the patient is advised to seek the most appropriate level of care (in the most appropriate setting) and there is no risk for a delay in care. The biggest winner of all is the patient with an improvement in health outcomes.

NURSES

  • Telephone triage is a relatively new specialty of nursing that has evolved over the past 20 years. Being educated in the skill of remotely caring for a patient is a unique opportunity for experienced nurses to expand their clinical knowledge base and fill a gap in the patient’s plan of care. The prospect of working as a nurse from the comfort of home is intriguing to many and helps with recruitment efforts. An established outsourced call center reports considerable increase in employee satisfaction scores among work from home staff and a 2017 retention rate of 93%. That translates to a cost savings in new hire onboarding and training. A win-win!
  • Roberta RN, started at the call center in late 2016. Within six months she was working from home. “Never in my 23 years of being a nurse did I ever think it would be possible to help patients from my home office. There are so many perks that I never even imagined. My ride into work was at least 45 minutes; I figure I’ve gained about 10 hours a week that I spent in the car and I’m saving at least $50 weekly in gasoline. With the extra time I have in the morning I started walking. I’m up to three miles a day, never felt better, and I lost 33 lbs. I not only care for patients, but I have been able to improve my own health. I love my job.”
  • Marcy worked in a busy inner-city Emergency Department for most of her career. Her years of ED experience made her a great candidate for a part-time triage RN position at her organization’s medical call center. “Initially I was very nervous about giving people nursing advice when I couldn’t see them, touch them or be in the same room with them. Luckily, my department had a very detailed training process, and assigned me a preceptor who worked the same schedule as me for my first 90 days. Slowly but surely I began to feel more comfortable and had come to appreciate the impact we were having on patient access. When the opportunity came up for me to work from my home, I was hesitant to apply, but I did go for it. Every written resource, cheat sheet, medication chart, and approved websites that I had at my fingertips and had come to depend on, was available to me at home. I was able to communicate in real time with the other RNs working on my shift as well as my charge nurse. The support was unbelievable. The feeling of being part of a team was something I really needed and something my company made sure was a priority regardless of where you were practicing.”
  • Nora, an RN, shared this: “Calls usually take about 10-12 minutes. That is time I am spending 1:1 with that patient; dedicated to their needs and collaborating with them on their plan of care. I came from a very busy med-surg floor where we often had up to six assignments per shift. It got really crazy at times, you were constantly being interrupted, called away from your patient to help with another patient, and having to admit new patients all evening long. Taking care of all the needs of one patient, is ideal and reminds me of my early years as a nurse when we practiced ‘primary nursing’. I live in upper Michigan where winter temperatures drop to sub-zero levels and being able to triage pediatric patients from the warmth of my home, while working in my sweats, and commuting to the basement is a dream come true for a nurse.”
  • Samuel Joseph told us, “Of course I am grateful to have the chance to take care of patients over the phone set up in my house, but I am also shocked at the money I am saving. I’m a guy and I guess I must be tough on my work scrubs (and terrible at doing laundry) because I was always spending money on new scrubs when I was working in the hospital. Not anymore! I take a quick shower throw on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt and I’m dressed for work. It’s very cool! I just turned in my leased car and it was the first time ever that I didn’t have to pay for being over the mileage allowed. And one more thing – I used to spend at least $10 a day on coffee, lunches and Diet Cokes I bought whenever I worked. With that savings alone, I have an extra $200 a month. It is an awesome job! “

THE ORGANIZATION

  • No healthcare organization will invest money or allocated resources – especially nurses without a proven contribution to the overarching strategic goals. Whatever the discipline under consideration to work at home, be it clinical or administrative caregivers, one thing for certain – they must at the very least support, if not completely resolve, many of the requirements imposed by the shift to value-based care.
  • Nurses working from home promote better patient health, improved population health and a reduction in the cost of care. If one didn’t know better, it would seem that the specialty practice was developed with the Triple Aim in mind.
  • Access to clinical care is there when the patients deem it necessary. Work from home staff guarantees that care is provided regardless of the time of day, volume of calls, or hours of operation of the PCP’s clinics. Giving patients more control over their healthcare needs will foster engagement, compliance, and, ultimately, outcomes. Better outcomes result in a cost savings across the continuum of care.
  • Remote triage nurses should be proud of the influence they have in the organization’s effort to optimally use all resources. This is most obvious with referrals to the ED. Triage nurses are trained to refer patients away from the ED and towards more appropriate locations of care such as urgent cares, express clinics, or virtual visits. Patients appreciate the collateral benefit of a co-pay savings of hundreds of dollars out of pocket.

The possibility of working from home may sound too good to be true. That may be the case in many professions, but not Telephone Triage Nursing. Patients are better served, nurses love their job and the organization reaps countless benefits. Remote Nursing is truly the Trifecta of healthcare – a Win-Win- Win strategy!


Gina Tabone, MSN, RNC serves as the Vice President of Strategic Clinical Solutions for the TeamHealth Medical Call Center.

Prior to joining TeamHealth, she served as the Administrator of Cleveland Clinic’s NURSE on CALL 24/7 nurse triage program. Under her direction, ED utilization declined, continuous care coordination improved, performance metric targets dropped from 33% ABD to less than 5%, URAC accreditation was achieved, and the call center grew from covering 350 physicians to the integration of more than 1,500 employed and affiliated providers.