By Karen Brown, RN
As a national outsourced medical call center, many of TeamHealth Medical Call Center’s clients have had an internal Nurse Triage call center and have made the decision to close it and move to an outsourced model. Cost containment is the number one reason that clients move to an outsourced model. We have learned that these transitions are not without emotions for the client and challenges for us. We have come to embrace these challenges by learning from our clients as we also share our own experience to design the right service for our clients. TeamHealth’s objectives in implementing an internal medical call center are as follows:
Understand the Culture
Our first large outsourced client, a prestigious teaching medical center, taught us the importance of understanding the culture of the health system and the community. Their callers were accustomed to very high level technical information and often inquired about etiology or physiology of conditions. Initially our triage nurses were taken aback by these caller expectations that had not yet been in our world. After the feedback on our calls started rolling in, the gracious client actually had some training sessions with our staff and we began to implement additional clinical resource information to satisfy these callers desire for in-depth knowledge. Ultimately, our nurses began to love these calls from such an educated caller and they found that it increased their own knowledge. That client is still with us today after 12 years of service.
Understand the Emotion
There is a sense of family in a hospital-based call center where the triage nurses may have even worked with the physician in a clinical setting prior to working in the call center and have an intimate knowledge of the physician’s personality and standard of practice. Transitioning of the call center nurse triage services may mean reassignments or even layoffs, resulting in resentment. It is important to be sensitive to this situation and honor the work and experience of that staff. These same staff members will likely be callers into the new call center as patients. Often the existing call center managers are the project manager for the implementation. They are very valuable to us in establishing a good service. Making every effort for them to feel good about our service and to feel honored by us goes a long way in the acceptance by the entire organization.
Duplicate the Service First
Learn the service that is delivered in the existing call center and work to duplicate it. This means very detailed discovery from the client’s perspective, in terms of call flow, reports, and desired patient experience. TeamHealth Medical Call Center’s experience and technology allows us to share best practices and a multitude of enhancements that we can offer to the existing service delivery. We are openly very proud of our ability to customize and upgrade a client’s service! However, before suggesting any changes, we invest in detailed discovery to ensure there is no loss of existing service or call branding. When the client is reassured that we can create a seamless service, enhancements are welcomed.
Provide a Champion
TeamHealth Medical Call Center assigns dedicated Strategic Account Managers to every account. They partner with the client as their advocate for the service, ensuring that their service objectives are met. They are empowered to take our own organization to task in the interest of the client’s service delivery! Regular conferences and real time availability ensure that we are on top of every issue and caring for the client’s patients as if they are our own. Beginning with implementation, the Account Managers become involved in posturing the service for success. TeamHealth Medical Call Center values the many partnerships that we have developed over the years with clients in the challenging position of transferring services from an internal call center to an outsourced call center. Our relationships with staff and leadership have grown as we worked through tough issues together and developed trust. We have come to know about family members and events in their lives. Our clients have come to know our nurses by name as we have reviewed calls together and they have heard compliments from their patients.
The cost containment and technical services that outsourced nurse triage provides will be even more attractive in the new health care environment. TeamHealth Medical Call Center will remain committed and challenged by this service line! Stay tuned for more information in future blogs!
Karen Brown is the VP of Business Development for TeamHealth Medical Call Center