The mobile phone has long become a business tool for many long-term care providers. The nature of long-term care requires providers to travel between buildings and facilities and spend a significant portion of their time on the road. Unlike physicians in traditional ambulatory clinic settings, they need constant and instant communication with facilities regardless of their physical location. Thus, their mobile phone has become the main channel of communication both during and after-hours.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for even more flexibility and agility in communication. Telemedicine, which was once a nice-to-have for many practices, suddenly became a necessity for continuous patient care. Telephonic conversations between facilities and providers are no longer just for scheduling and emergent issues. They have quickly become telephonic encounters. That’s when the problem with using the same phone number for personal and business matters occur.
The problem with your cellphones
Without the need for telemedicine, mixing business and personal use of phone numbers was already a headache. Providers may receive phone calls after-hours even if they’re not on-call. To reach the correct on-call providers, facility staff must have a complete directory of providers’ numbers and their on-call schedule, which needs regular updates and maintenance to stay accurate and current. That is a significant effort for both practices and facilities to have a line of communication during emergencies. And providers can never really disengage from their work. There is not “off-line” switch for their phone number, so they’re never off duty.
Now, add telemedicine on top of that workflow. Traditional cell phones do not have the capacity or regulatory compliance to facilitate telehealth visits. Suppose facilities have reached the correct provider to conduct an encounter. In that case, the providers will need to end the phone call, move to a HIPAA-compliant system for telehealth, or risk exposing patient’s data. Although the regulations around telehealth have been temporarily relaxed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will likely last only as long as the emergency. Telehealth, on the other hand, is here to stay. Using your personal phone numbers for business purposes will create more complications further down the line.
If you want to grow, stop using cellphones to connect with facilities
Having a clear line of communication is just the start. To grow your practice, you need more than just a unified and complete view of your operation. You need to understand how your practice is performing, which productivity level you’re operating at, and how you can better optimize your workflow.
The problem with using your personal cellphone as the main channel of communication is beyond operational. Your cellphone, like any other traditional business phone system, exists outside of your other business systems. Aside from the clunky cross-system transition, for example, from a phone call to a telehealth visit, it creates data silos that requires manual data entry to unify under a single system.
That trackable data can only come with a centralized communication system fully integrated with the rest of your practice’s technology, from billing to EHR to practice management services. Cloud-based communication systems like SNFConnect can help you break down the data silos, streamline your communication and optimize your workflow to scale.
On an operational basis, a centralized, cloud-based communication system provides a single number for facilities to reach the practice, saving them the trouble of maintaining and navigating a directory of phone numbers. For providers, such a communication system comes with the ability to automatically route calls to the correct on-call person to speed up the communication process, helping them make more informed decisions regarding patient care regardless of physical location.
Complete communication systems with built-in telehealth capacity (like SNFConnect!) can also quickly switch between modes of communication, such as turning a phone call into a telehealth encounter, with complete security and compliance, all within one platform. Compared to your cellphone, it is more streamlined, timely and efficient for both facilities and practices.
A centralized communication system unlocks your productivity data through a complete and trackable history of your calls and their outcomes on a growth perspective. Complete visibility across the board enables practices to internally optimize their workflow, train the buildings on communication best practices and build a good communication cadence. As system intelligence exists on a practice level, you can retain complete call history with any change in personnel and continue to build for transparency and accountability within your practice.
If you’re still relying on your cellphones to communicate with facilities, it’s time to consider switching to a cloud-based system.
A complimentary consultation with our team can identify gaps in your current communication system and chart a path to build for optimization.
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