By Karen Brown, RN

How many times has my mother been unable to relate her care plan back to me after a physician’s visit because she didn’t remember the instructions or forgot to ask questions? While she may have received the information from a skilled professional, the anxiety and distraction of new information impaired her ability to retain the information or ask for clarifications. I don’t want her to know this, but I also think that she is a little embarrassed to admit that she just doesn’t get it the first time!Patients are not accustomed to the new move toward patient engagement, self care and responsibility. Certain populations require additional follow-up measures to ensure their compliance. Telephonic coaching is proving to be a winning strategy in patient engagement. After all, there is comfort in being in one’s own home, even with medication bottles and instruction sheets. In their own space, patients open up and reveal issues that impair their compliance.

Patient coaching calls are enhanced by call center collaboration with both inpatient and outpatient providers. Some tips for providers in ensuring an effective follow-up call are: • Let the patient know that they will be receiving a call within a specified time period • Ask them to write down information about their condition or any questions they would like to ask their telephone nurse • Reassure them that the nurse is there to ensure that they are comfortable with their treatment plan. The call is not a pass or fail test.

Let the patient know they will receive a follow-up call and give them information about it. Perhaps give that information on a handout with a section for them to jot down things they would like to discuss when the call comes. Some providers also offer an inbound Nurse Advice Line for their populations in case they have a need before the nurse calls.

TeamHealth Medical Call Center nurses start out every call by asking the patient what they would like to discuss. This is a vital part of the call and establishes that important rapport and gives the nurse valuable information on the patient’s need for coaching and learning style. Reinforcement of the care plan and provider-specific information requirements are other elements of the call. It is important to resolve any issues, even if it takes a call to the provider with a follow-up back to the patient. The objective is for the encounter to result in a motivated, informed patient who knows you care.


Karen Brown, TeamHealth Medical Call Center Leadership, VP of Business Development

Karen Brown, RN

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