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Call Centers Central to Hospitalized Patients' Post-Care Transition

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September 17, 2012

Call Centers Central to Hospitalized Patients' Post-Care Transition

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

When most people think of call centers, they think of consumer goods and services such as ordering online, paying bills, requesting or cancelling services or managing account information. Few people imagine that call centers have any real role to play when it comes to healthcare, unless, perhaps, it’s about making bill queries on accounts. Despite this, call centers are being increasingly found at the center of patient care.

When patients leave the hospital after a procedure or an extended stay, they can feel vulnerable. The professional who cared for them in the hospital – the hospitalist – may not be their regular physician or other provider, and the disconnect between the hospitalist and the patient can be anxiety-inducing for many.

“The only provider who ‘really understands’ what needs to happen next for the patient is the hospitalist,” Dr. Weiner, chief clinical officer for IPC (News - Alert) The Hospitalist Co., explained.

This is where call centers come in. IPC currently staffs what it calls a “care-transitions” call center at its corporate headquarters in North Hollywood, California. Instead or ordinary call center agents, 20 nurses, case managers, and patient representatives man the phones, contacting all patients discharged to their homes by IPC hospitalists within 48 to 72 hours. IPC, which has run this contact center for 10 years, said that between October 2010 and September 2011, IPC call centers reached out to nearly 350,000 patients who had been discharged from the hospital.

What this does is help patients make the transition, identify patients who need further medical services and intervention and reassure patients that their care is continuing. Some may even find it surprising just how impacting this service is, as about one-fifth of the patients contacted by the call center needed an intervention. IPC calculates that those interventions prevented 1,782 avoidable readmissions, helping save money – and more importantly- save lives.

According to Dr. Weiner, call center staff follow discharge instructions from the hospitalists using brief, customized, technology-driven reports, reported the Hospitalist, focusing on key points that could become health issues in the first few days after discharge.

In related news, 8x8 (News - Alert) Inc., recently ranked as the number one hosted VoIP provider, continues to provide renowned call center solutions and services nationwide. The company will even be exhibiting at this year’s ITEXPO West 2012, where it will specifically highlight its cloud telephony and unified communications (UC) solutions, for which they are well-known.

To find out more about Platinum sponsor 8x8, visit the company at ITEXPO at Booth #801 to be held October 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, where Debbie Jo Severin (News - Alert) is speaking during "Grow Your Business Without Sacrificing Options.” For more information on ITEXPO (News - Alert), click here.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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