Spotlight on Healthline Systems: In an Era of Industry Transformation, EchoAccess Offers a Solution

With fee-for-service complicated by the emerging challenges of value-based reimbursement, your call center is now more important. Today’s environment presents a unique opportunity for healthcare call centers to move from ancillary support functions to a critical role at the center of the care continuum as integrated communication hubs. EchoAccess technology delivers two dozen proven tools you can use now to power your call center’s vital new role.

Whether or not your organization deploys an ACO, today’s contact center communication hub must enable five important outcomes:

  1. Streamline access to care
  2. Help aligned physicians acquire more patients
  3. Reduce redundant costs
  4. Optimize patient experiences at the first point of contact
  5. Document the contact center as an investment

EchoAccess enables 24 tools you can use now:

Streamline Access to Care

1) Deploy evidence-based clinical triage: Cleveland Clinic’s clinical guideline protocols are available only in EchoAccess. Clinical triage manages utilization by directing callers to clinically appropriate, cost-effective care. Those truly at-risk are directed to immediate emergency care. Concurrently, the inappropriate use of high acuity clinical services is avoided with referrals to primary care or homecare.

  • Enable improved access, better patient care, and cost savings
  • Improve satisfaction by ensuring connection with clinical professionals

Client example: Averted ED visits 41% of time.

2) Make post-discharge calls to reduce preventable readmissions using the EchoAccess call queuing and documentation system. Outbound calls are made for discharged patients, recent emergency department patients, and urgent care patients to:

  • Clarify follow-up care instructions
  • Confirm medication and dosage accuracy
  • Schedule follow-up physician appointments
  • Encourage HCAHPS survey responses

Client example: Increased HCAHPS response rate by 15%.

3) Identify and eliminate roadblocks in transitions of care: Understand the roadblocks to care from the patient’s perspective. Know where the barriers are and what action to take. The EchoAccess survey tool delivers unmatched flexibility and supports inbound, outbound, telephone, and Web implementation. Client example: Responds to patient feedback by coordinating resolution of barriers to care.

4) Shorten physician appointment wait times: EchoAccess tools enable reduced wait times for appointments with participating physicians.

Client example: Wait times decreased from an average of 33 days to 3 to 4 days.

5) Provide one call pre-registration for urgent care: Document patient pre-registration information in EchoAccess and schedule automatic emails to urgent care in advance of the next day’s patient visits, such as “Welcome Mr. Smith, we’ve been expecting you.” Client example: 1,027 preregistered urgent care patients in a recent year.

6) Reduce call processing time: EchoAccess includes an intuitive call processing interface and rapid access call handling controls for fewer clicks and faster processing. Client example: Saved 51 seconds per call; 1.5 FTEs over five years.

7) Document kept appointments: Generate a report for each practice inEchoAccesssummarizing the total number of patients referred and their overall kept appointment rate. More patients who keep appointments equal more patients who are likely to require subsequent service. Client example: Increased kept appointment rate from 56% to 71%.

Help Aligned Physicians Acquire More Patients

8) Interview participating physicians using theEchoAccess built-in survey tool. How can we help you be more successful at our hospital? Client example: Now serving primary care physicians in medical home and supporting ACO physician network.

9) Prioritize primary care appointments: Select priority A, B, or C in EchoAccess to fill new practices more quickly. Client example: Referrals to PCPs up 300% since 2009.

10) Refer unattached ER patients to in-network PCPs: Client example: 232 new appointments to in-network PCPS.

11) Provide practice navigation support: Use EchoAccess to manage referrals to PCPs, specialists, and classes; reduce out-of-network patient migration. Client example: Filled 11 primary care practices, 7 cardiology practices, referred nearly 1,200 patients to PCPs in 2011. Client example: 58% of referrals directed to a medical home.

12) Deploy physician-to-physician consult: The EchoAccess physician consult module provides one-call regional physician access to specialists for referrals and transfers. These are frequently high margin cases. Client example: A CEO has stated, “Referral center is my secret weapon.”

13) Provide tangible physician support for quality and patient safety: EchoAccess links with the Echo master provider database to reduce redundancy and improve quality of care under value-based reimbursement. Client example: Patient safety events are tracked and trended, including incidents, events, and unsafe conditions.

Reduce Redundant Costs

14) Consolidate first point-of-contact services, such as scheduling, transfers, physician referral, class registration, physician-to-physician referral, nurse triage, and switchboard. Client example: Access center communication hub serves over 70 locations.

15) Integrate call center with Website: Use EchoAccess with EchoAccess Net to increase transaction volume without a corresponding increase in FTEs. Client example: Both telephone and Web transactions are managed and reported using the same EchoAccess database.

16) Eliminate duplicative provider data. Client example: Integrates provider data from multiple sources into a single source of truth using Echo and EchoAccess.

17) EchoAccess tools increase productivity to reduce cost per transaction. Client example: Automates letters, faxes, emails; reduces staff time for printing, collating, and mailing.

18) Decrease ER utilization for lower acuity conditions: Apply EchoAccess nurse triage and patient navigation. Client example: 41% of ER visits redirected to more appropriate care; 11% of those are diverted to urgent care.

Optimize Patient Experiences at the First Point of Contact

19) Deliver personalized navigation services. Client example: Call volumes tripled since 2009 using navigation service experiences tailored for:

  • Joint replacement
  • Post-discharge follow-up
  • Nurse triage
  • Fast-pass urgent care pre-registration
  • Resource coaching for the uninsured

20) Document the value of repeat utilization using EchoAccess reporter. Client example: Organization documented a substantial total contribution margin for one year from new, dormant, returning, and existing patients.

21) Improve care experiences at the first point of contact. EchoAccess makes it easy to:

  • Outline and save themes for ideal agent opening and closing
  • Flag caller specific opportunities for cross sell referrals

Client example: Estimated HCAHPS 2013 reimbursement recovery: $1.3 million.

Document the Call Center as an Investment

22) Detail non-compensated community benefit using the EchoAccessreporter to help sustain tax-exempt status. Client example: Maintained tax-exempt status for each of six years of reporting.

23) Document increased utilization of priority clinical services using theEchoAccessreporter.

Client example: In one year, a client documented this data:

  • Heart: 9 admits; 328 outpatient visits; 87 physician visits
  • Joint: 414 admits; 1,258 outpatient visits; 80 physician visits
  • Cancer: 7 admits; 170 outpatient visits; 84 physician visits
  • Bariatric: 910 inquiries; 30 surgeries; 35 physician

24) Document results in an executive report card usingEchoAccess.

Client example: Annual one page executive report card includes:

  • Readmission rates
  • Day(s) to appointment
  • Kept appointment rates
  • Reduced member ER utilization
  • ROI: $9.41 returned per dollar invested (9.41:1)

Summary: Today’s transformative environment brings a unique opportunity for your call center to migrate from a support function to a critical role as a central communication hub. One simple choice can power your success – EchoAccess.

Echo, A HealthStream Company has a twenty-seven year record of client results from software solutions serving over 1,000 healthcare organizations throughout North America. EchoAccess is healthcare’s first fully Web-enabled contact center solution. For more information, email or call 800-733-8737.

[From the December 2012/January 2013 issue of AnswerStat magazine]