PerfectServe Stands in the Fight Against Racism and Injustice

The murder of George Floyd on May 25—and the events that have transpired since then—requires deliberate introspection about the state of affairs in our country and beyond. These events are of deep concern to me, our employees, our families, our friends, and our communities.

The Black community is in pain, and positive change is a necessity. PerfectServe stands in the fight against racism and injustice. We stand to overcome the challenges that we face and use our voices to demand that ignorance and inequity come to an end.

It’s important for me to reassert that PerfectServe has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. We pride ourselves on creating a work environment that is equally welcoming to people of all races, genders, religions, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and nationalities.

In this moment, actions speak louder than words. We’re committed to evaluating our processes and standards—with help and input from people inside and outside the company—to ensure that diversity and inclusion play a larger role in PerfectServe’s culture moving forward. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but these initiatives will make us a stronger company and a better member of the community in the end.

This is only the beginning. We are confronted with daunting social challenges, and there isn’t a silver bullet. We can all do better, and PerfectServe is committed to being part of the solution.


Guillaume Castel
CEO, PerfectServe

Patient Benefits of an Advanced Automated Answering Service Solution

Patient experience is the most important factor when it comes to patient retention at any medical practice. An essential touchpoint to optimize in modern medical practices is to standardize the way your patient calls are handled. The right 24/7 answering service solution can free up valuable provider and staff resources to focus on patient care while reducing unnecessary interruptions and ensuring urgent messages reach the right provider at the right time—every time.

Removing human error and delivering an automated and reliable service for both providers and patients, advanced answering service solutions are being implemented by more and more practices to enhance both patient and provider satisfaction.

Here are just a few key patient benefits of an ideal automated answering service solution:

Less Frustration

Your patients have busy lives but your practice is busy, too. If your practice experiences call volume congestion, your patients still need to be able to reach you without being put on hold. The right answering service solution will differentiate messages based on urgency and use your on-call schedules to accurately route communication to the right provider based on escalation policies set by your practice, speeding time to treatment.

Timely Communication

Efficient practice operations help decrease the time patients spend waiting during appointments and on hold when they call your practice. Automation allows patients to reach your practice at any time, during any circumstances to get the answers and help they need. The best answering service solutions offer smart routing that ensures providers are only interrupted to address urgent requests that require responses in a timely manner.

24/7 Care Access

Although many answering services are only used for after-hours coverage, an automated answering service solution delivers around-the-clock coverage as needed. Just because you don’t see your patients on a 24-hour basis does not mean it shouldn’t be easy for them to manage their appointments and make routine requests such as medication refills whenever they think of them, which might not be during regular office hours. An automated answering service solution can support call volume overflow when the main line at your practice is busy and serve as a 24/7 backup during emergency events when your practice is closed.

Better Onsite Service

Your staff need to be able to do their jobs, but when they face constant interruptions and take on the additional task of call filtering, concentration is broken, efficiency is lost, and providers can become unable to best care for their patients. Implementing the right automated answering service solution can free up your team to focus more on what they do best—patient care.

If providing an excellent patient experience and running an efficient medical practice are priorities for you, an advanced automated answering service solution might be just what the doctor ordered.

Let’s discuss more about how the ideal automated answering service solution can benefit your patients.

 

National Nurses Week 2020

Annual celebration of nurses takes on special meaning during COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, businesses around the country, from Dunkin’ to Adidas to Chipotle to H&R Block, are clamoring to offer freebies and discounts for nurses to celebrate National Nurses Week 2020. Though it’s never a bad time to highlight the incredible work nurses do as vital members of care teams in healthcare organizations across the country, this year’s celebration feels especially poignant as the country (and much of the world) is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19.

PerfectServe is fortunate to have nurses on staff, including team members who still practice part-time today and others who transitioned into information technology full-time after spending years in nursing careers. With this valuable perspective in-house, we asked a few of these current and former nurses to share their thoughts about how COVID-19 has changed the role of a nurse, and which we’ll share throughout the rest of the week.

Julie Mills, RN, BSN, MBA

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With 18 years of experience as a nurse, Julie has worked in many capacities sharing her clinical expertise, including in the US Air Force as a Unit Coordinator. Currently, Julie is a Senior Clinical Solutions Executive at PerfectServe, where she serves as a clinical advisor to teams across the company. She also practices at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Healthcare Administration degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Nurses are the listening ear, the conversationalist, and the hand holder.

“I’ve been a nurse for 18 years and currently practice a few days every month at an academic medical center that also serves as the region’s only Level I Trauma Center. COVID-19 brings a heightened sense of awareness to all that we do—checking temps when you walk in the door, wearing masks, and being mindful of supplies. Families aren’t allowed to visit, so they’re calling us more for updates about their loved ones, and the emotional support we provide becomes more critical to the patient.

Nurses have always been the primary patient caregiver at the bedside, but in a crisis, their role is expanded. Without families at the bedside, the nurse is the all day, everyday support system. Beyond providing care, nurses also step up to be the listening ear, the conversationalist and the hand holder. In rapidly changing clinical situations, the nurse’s clinical acumen and intuition are essential to managing care and communications with other team members.”

Mary Piepenbrink, RN, BSN, MBA

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With more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Mary has served both as a nurse and a leader in information technology software and service solutions. Currently, she is the Vice President of Sales, Lightning Bolt, where she supports caregivers and helps hospitals and health systems improve their operations, reduce costs, and counteract provider burnout.

COVID-19: An Unprecedented Situation for Nurses

“This is unprecedented for most nurses; most do not have experience beyond routine infection prevention standards and practices. Some specialists mask, gown, and glove up when they care for known infectious patients, but typically that is a careful, thoughtful, measured approach. With COVID-19, nurses are doing this in long stretches and seeing patients rapid-fire. Nurses aren’t just concerned about the hard mental and physical work caring for patients they they normally do—they are fearful about transmission to other patients, concerned about the health of their coworkers, and of course have enormous stress about bringing the virus home to their families. As they do what they do best—triage, adapt, multitask, worry—I can’t but help wonder what effect this will have on our profession long term. I check in on my clinician friends—nurses, doctors, pharmacists—not just where I live, but in other more affected cities, to try and support them by listening and providing encouragement. Many of us feel helpless to do more.”

Mark Denny, BSN

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Currently a Clinical Consultant at PerfectServe, Mark assists healthcare organizations as they implement PerfectServe’s Clinical Communication & Collaboration solutions. Mark worked in clinical informatics before transitioning to healthcare IT consulting.

Much-Needed Recognition for Nurses

“The presence of a nurse has a critical impact in any clinical setting, but even more so at this time. Right now, nurses are truly practicing the emergency alert responses they are taught and hope to never use. Nurses in general are frequently exposed to pathogens, bugs, volatile patient situations, staff shortages, and endless documentation, all the while going unnoticed for their work on a day to day basis. This crisis has brought to light many of the dangerous situations nurses willingly walk into every day, and they are now receiving the recognition they deserve. My work doesn’t take me to the bedside anymore, but my contributions make it easier for nursing staff to communicate with their co-workers and on-call physicians while making a positive impact on patient care.”

Celebrating National Nurses Week

For over 20 years, PerfectServe has worked hand-in-hand with nurses to improve care delivery workflows at hospitals and practices across the country. In fact, PerfectServe might not exist if it hadn’t been for the wife of founder Terry Edwards. Penny Edwards was a nurse handling inbound communication for a private practice, and her frustrations with the antiquated process for fielding patient messages and coordinating responses with the physician are what led Terry to devise a more modern after-hours answering service solution.

From those beginnings, PerfectServe has grown to serve healthcare delivery organizations of all shapes and sizes, and one thing that has never changed is the courage and dedication we witness every day from the nurses we serve. Happy National Nurses Week, and thank you for being the backbone of care delivery in communities throughout the United States, especially in times of crisis.

5 Warning Signs Your Answering Service Might Be Hurting Your Practice

Medical answering services are essential to modern practices for triaging patient calls, delivering urgent messages at night, and allowing receptionists to focus on imperative tasks during business hours. An effective answering service solution can help practice managers, providers, and staff improve the overall patient experience and increase patient satisfaction.

Unfortunately, some medical answering services are susceptible to manual errors and environmental challenges. Routing mistakes and connectivity issues can negatively impact both patient and provider satisfaction.

Here are five warning signs your medical answering service might be negatively impacting your practice:

1. Poor Provider Satisfaction

Your providers’ wellbeing is essential to their satisfaction, livelihood, and ability to best care for patients—yet provider burnout is on the rise. Key contributors to burnout include receiving non-urgent calls after hours, getting unnecessary interruptions while caring for patients, and dealing with other communication challenges that interfere with providers’ daily workflows.

Contacting providers at the wrong time is a common mistake. When the answering service makes an error and contacts your provider at midnight on their Saturday off or interrupts their time with a patient for a non-urgent or routine message, it brings down the provider’s satisfaction and makes it more difficult for your practice to retain top talent.

Providers who are unable to work at their best due to unnecessary interruptions and complicated communication workflows may experience burnout and decide to leave your practice. Losing providers reduces patient satisfaction, lowers revenue, and increases your recruitment and onboarding costs.

2. Declining Patient Experience

It’s important to let patients know they are being heard and cared for, not ignored, yet missed and lost messages are another common issue with medical answering services.

If your answering service loses patient messages, fails to take thorough notes during a call, delays sending urgent messages, or sends messages to the wrong provider, your patients will begin to feel frustrated and undervalued.

3. Negative Impacts on Your Practice’s Reputation

To your patients, your answering service is a representative of your medical practice. Errors and poor patient encounters with live answering service can be harmful, and even detrimental, to your practice’s reputation in providing quality patient care.

It is imperative to ensure that your answering service—which many patients do not know is a third-party service—is delivering the quality of care and experience you want your patients to expect from you. Keeping your patients satisfied and confident in their care is the key to patient retention.

4. Fluctuation of Practice Operating Costs

Your medical answering service may be costing you much more than you originally intended. Many answering services have hidden fees and charges based on call volume and duration, causing practices to spend much more on the service than was budgeted. For a more accurate account of how much your medical answering service is really costing you, look at your month-over-month charges and take note of the fluctuations. Hidden fees can add up quickly when practices don’t pay close attention and consistently follow up on billing.

5. Inability to Support Patients During Emergencies

Healthcare can’t stop when inclement weather, natural disasters, or other emergencies happen. Keeping lines of communication open between your providers and your patients is essential, especially during times of uncertainty. Your medical answering service must be available and connected to take patient calls and route messages correctly and quickly at all times.

If your medical answering service depends on live operators, a natural disaster or similar emergency could make it impossible for agents to receive or answer your patients’ calls. You can learn more about identifying risk to prepare for unprecedented circumstances from our related blog post and our Medical Practice Disaster & Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

Not all medical answering services provide the same level of service and support.

Use the factors above to assess your current medical answering service vendor and decide if it’s time to look for another solution that can better protect your medical practice.

Consider how an automated medical answering service solution can help strengthen your practice.

The right answering service solution will provide a consistent patient experience, reliable connectivity, accurate message routing, and appropriate escalation while supporting work-life balance for your providers and eliminating variable costs.

Let’s discuss how your practice can benefit from the right answering service solution.

Is your medical practice disaster and emergency proof?

Download the checklist.

It’s easy not to think about unprecedented circumstances and how they could impact your practice … until one occurs. By the time a wildfire, hurricane, earthquake, snowstorm, or pandemic happens, some practices are caught behind the eight ball, trying to frantically plan for remote patient access and communication.

These types of situations put you, your practice, and your patients under tremendous stress, making timely communication between providers and patients more essential than ever. Providers and practice managers need to proactively identify communication risks, create protocols, and employ solutions to minimize risk, so you’re not left scrambling to react at the onset of an emergency.

Open Lines of Patient Communication

When an unforeseen disaster or emergency takes place, it’s important for the lines of communication between your patients and providers to remain open and accessible. Even if your medical practice closes its doors, your communication solution should still be fully functional—routing patient messages, escalating urgent calls, and helping you and your patient base stay connected.

Unfortunately, not every practice communication service is capable of maintaining functionality virtually during a disaster or emergency.

Considerations for Selecting Practice Communication Solutions

When you’re identifying your communication risks and evaluating your current service’s performance, consider the following:

Solution Infrastructure

Does your solution have a protocol for extended power outages or office closures? Are there backup protocols in place to prevent lost or delayed messages?

If the answer to either question is “No,” your patients won’t have any way of reaching the right on-call provider during a disaster or emergency. Damage to communication infrastructure is common during disasters. Power outages can affect landline phone service, especially if you depend on broadband connections, like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

In the event of a forced office closure, how would your medical answering service contact your providers? A practice communication solution that is cloud-based enables providers and patients to connect quickly regardless of location, outages, or facility closures.

Automated Routing and Escalation Capabilities

What happens when your medical answering service can’t take your overflow, after-hours, or overnight calls and messages due to closure? What happens if the on-call provider is unable to answer their phone?

Make sure the solution you choose offers rerouting and escalation policies for urgent messages when notifications are not answered. Look for 24/7 automated call and message forwarding that doesn’t rely on middlemen, so your patients can always reach the right providers in times of need.

Remote Patient Monitoring and Communication

If your practice is forced to close during a natural disaster, how will your providers manage patients with a chronic illness or conditions? During widespread illnesses, how will your practice mitigate risks of infection?

Search for solutions that enable providers to send two-way provider-to-patient text messages tailored to each patient’s unique circumstance. Look for the ability to:

  • Broadcast messages to patients during community-wide disasters and emergencies.
  • Assess symptom severity and gauge pain levels.
  • Initiate patient phone and video screenings.
  • Send details on how to access care.
  • Prescribe new treatment plans.
  • Share best practices for staying safe, proactive, and healthy.

To help ensure your practice can avoid interruption of essential functions and services during unexpected events, we’ve created a Medical Practice Disaster & Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

 

Create a plan to stay connected with patients in critical moments.

We’re Offering Complimentary Support to Clients for COVID-19 Best Practices

It is not business as usual for our clients, and PerfectServe wants to help. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations are working quickly to address potential capacity challenges, communication needs, patient education opportunities, clinician staffing shortfalls, and more. We have already supported many clients in their COVID-19 efforts, and we’ve assembled lists of best practices to share with the industry.

We have fielded and executed requests from healthcare organizations of all sizes, including Prisma Health and United Health Services. We’ve learned from these experiences and want to replicate the benefits for other clients at no charge.

Our Offer to Customers

To help during this difficult time, PerfectServe is extending the following to all of our customers:

  • Free software and services for Patient & Family Communication (automated patient outreach via text message) for COVID-19 purposes. Carrier message rates may apply.
  • Free services to implement best practices for COVID-19 purposes.

This offer applies regardless of the PerfectServe, Telmediq, or Lightning Bolt solution(s) you currently use—Clinical Communication & Collaboration, Nurse Mobility, Patient & Family Communication, Answering Service, Contact Center, or Provider Scheduling. If you’re interested in learning more, please call 866.844.5484, email connect@perfectserve.net, or enter your contact information in the form to the left.

How can this offer help?

Because time is of the essence, we focused the offer on impactful software and services that can be implemented quickly.

With PerfectServe’s Patient & Family Communication (PFC) solution, your health system can engage patients with relevant COVID-19 updates and instructions via text message. Sample PFC use cases that have been implemented recently include:

  • Announcing curbside test access to patients. An on-demand message is initiated by nurses in a call center, which points the patient to a specific clinic site. The message instructs the patient to park, call a designated phone number, and wait for a test to be administered at their vehicle.
  • Two-way secure messaging with patients. A secure, encrypted messaging interface enables two-way communication with patients. This gives providers the ability to conduct risk or screening assessments to ask about symptoms and monitor responses.
  • Informing patients how, when, and where to access care. This includes both physical care access and hyperlinks to existing virtual clinic or telehealth platforms.
  • Providing patient education on best practices for disease avoidance and management. This can be as simple as pointing patients to the CDC website.
  • Trying to catch potential cases before they walk in the door. Directly after a reminder for an existing appointment is delivered, another message follows that asks the patient to call a telephone number to initiate a phone screening with a clinician if they have flu-like symptoms.

To implement PerfectServe’s PFC platform, customers supply formatted patient lists and data, including patient telephone numbers.

Beyond PFC, we’d also like to facilitate new critical communications to your care teams with free services to implement best practices. Every facility is unique, and we’re extending no-cost assistance to help you implement new workflows, make adjustments to current settings, or otherwise optimize your PerfectServe solution in a way that best supports your organization’s COVID-19 response efforts.

The following have been some of the most common best practices requests:

  • Setup or Modification of Team Alerts/Broadcast Groups/Distribution Lists: Multidisciplinary teams for incident response, infection management, and patient tracking have been key to COVID-19 response efforts. PerfectServe has worked with a number of customers to implement new team alerts (also called broadcast groups or distribution lists) or modify existing team alerts by adding members.
  • In most hospital settings, the process for communicating specific incident or patient details to a larger care team is manually intensive. These workflows typically have many steps, numerous decision points, and multiple handoffs, creating potential for communication breakdowns and delays in time-sensitive situations.
  • Team alerts automate many of the steps in the rapid response process, such as sending notifications to all team members—including team leadership—at the same time. With a single communication, all appropriate care team members are identified and contacted simultaneously, which speeds time to treatment and improves patient outcomes.
  • Schedule and Assignment Changes: During a virus outbreak, healthcare organizations may experience unusual fluctuations in patient load, and their own providers are also at increased risk of falling ill or experiencing burnout. Several Physician Scheduling customers have reached out for assistance implementing new assignments and schedules to ensure their facilities are optimally staffed amidst changing conditions.

The above use cases are far from an exhaustive list. Heightened communication is more important than ever in times of crisis, and clinical communication and collaboration solutions make it possible to connect with the right person at the right time to respond more effectively to an emergent situation. Additionally, customers with secure messaging have immediate access to hundreds of thousands of clinicians across the country who also use PerfectServe, providing a network effect that allows communication to transcend the boundaries of your facility.

Bottom line?

We are always grateful for the care that doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals provide for patients and families, but perhaps never more than now. We are keen to provide assistance to our customers, many of whom are on the front lines of this unpredictable public health crisis.

The PerfectServe team is ready to support your COVID-19 efforts. Please contact us today to get the conversation started.