How to Win When Outsourcing an Internal Nurse Triage Call Center

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Many healthcare groups have closed their internal nurse triage call centers in favor of outsourcing call services.

Although there are numerous reasons to make the change from internal to outsourced call center services, the top motivation is financial–specifically cost containment. Transition, however, comes with mixed emotions on the client side and challenges for the medical call center service provider. AccessNurse and our clients share our experiences as we embrace challenges, and we learn and understand both sides of the issues as we custom design each client’s nurse triage service.

Below, we describe AccessNurse’s objectives when a potential client comes to us for outsourcing of their internal medical call center.

4 Key Expectations when Transitioning to an Outsourced Healthcare Call Center Model     

1. New Client Cultures and the Need to Fully Understand and Manage Expectations

Our first large call center client was a prestigious teaching medical center with callers who were accustomed to a very high level of technical information and often inquired about the causes and physiologies of diseases. We quickly learned the importance of understanding the culture of the health system as well as the community it serves.

Our triage nurses were surprised by callers’ expectations because at that time, those high expectations were not commonplace. Our client worked with our staff by providing training sessions specifically targeted to caller feedback and the client’s knowledge of their patient base, and our nurses gained valuable knowledge and insight that enabled us to satisfy callers’ need for more in-depth information.

Our nurses came to love these calls from such an educated caller network, and they discovered that their own knowledge was increasing. We’re still serving that same client after 12 years of service.

2.  The Emotional Impact of Outsourcing Medical Call Center Services

Some of the triage nurses in a hospital-based call center may have worked in clinical settings with the hospital’s physicians prior to moving to the call center. Those triage nurses usually have intimate knowledge of physicians’ personalities and standards of practice. During transition to an outsourced provider, there may be reassignments or possible layoffs of highly experienced and valued personnel, which can result in anger and difficult situations. It is important that both the hospital and new service provider be sensitive to these situations and honor the work and experience of their staff.

Existing call center managers often become implementation project managers, bringing tremendous value to establishing well-functioning services for the client hospital. AccessNurse makes every effort to help those managers feel comfortable with our services and understand that we value their help. This attitude of appreciation goes a long way in developing the entire organization’s acceptance of the new services.

3. Detailed Discovery Process Ensures a Seamless Transition

Learning the services delivered in the existing call center is essential to providing services that offer the same or better quality of the existing services. Before suggesting any changes to service, however, detailed discovery must be conducted to ensure that the existing service or call branding is effectively meeting the clients’ goals.

If the new call center is to succeed, the discovery process will require the client’s involvement in a very detailed review of call flow, reports, and desired patient experience if the new call center is to succeed.

AccessNurse’s experience and technology enables us to share best practices along with numerous enhancements for improving the existing service delivery. Enhancements are usually welcomed after the client is confident that we can provide a seamless transfer of services. We are very proud of our ability to customize and upgrade a client’s service!

4. Dedicated Account Manager

For each account, AccessNurse assigns a dedicated Strategic Account Manager who is a key participant and advocates on behalf of the client to ensure that service objectives are met. We empower our account managers to challenge our own organization if it serves the best interests of the client’s service delivery. Account Managers are involved at the start of implementation and position the service for success. With regular conferences and real-time availability, account managers help ensure that we are on top of every issue and caring for the client’s patients as if they are our own.

Over the years AccessNurse has developed many strong client partnerships when transitioning internal call centers to an outsourced call center model. Our relationships with the staff and leadership of those organizations have grown as we collaboratively work through tough issues and develop mutual trust and respect. Together, we have come to know about family members and events in their lives, and our clients come to know our nurses by name as we review calls together. They also acknowledge their patients’ compliments for our call center staff.

Today, the new health care environment forces individual hospitals, practice groups, and health care systems to closely and seriously identify how to cut costs while improving patient engagement and access to care. The most logical option is to accept the advantages offered through outsourced nurse triage services to help healthcare providers deliver excellent care and access 24 hours a day…with cost containment benefits for the hospital or practice group and, in most cases, improved job satisfaction levels for physicians.

AccessNurse has always been and remains committed to delivering excellent nurse triage services to patients on behalf of our clients 24 hours a day! For more information about partnering for a call center, visit:  Three Benefits of Hospital Call Center Partnership.

Karen Brown

Karen Brown, RN, is the VP of Business Development for AccessNurse.