Call Centers Can Aid in Healthcare Reform

I’ve spent most of my adult life in call center related vocations. I’ve worked in call centers and for a call center vendor, did consulting for call centers, audited call centers, wrote about call centers, and now publish magazines, newsletters, and websites about call centers.

Call centers are a vital part of the global economy, moving information and facilitating commerce by taking and processing orders, providing customer service, taking messages, and even assisting in and providing healthcare. Yes, healthcare.

Hospital and medical related call centers ease patient-practitioner communication, provide medical answering services, allow patients to schedule appointments, send reminders of those appointments, refer callers to doctors based on specialty or geographic location, and dispense medical advice. Even though I am aware of this, I’ve never taken the next logical step to see that medical call centers can play a vital role in healthcare reform.

Fortunately, Doctors Barton Schmitt and Andrew Hertz have. They recently completed a position paper regarding the role of medical call centers in health care reform. The position paper, titled The Case for Publicly Funded Medical Call Centers, offers as a premise that, “every citizen should have the right to reach a telephone care nurse at any hour day or night for assistance with illnesses, injuries or other acute medical problems.” Its content describes the primary functions of today’s medical call centers, an overview of their outcomes, evidence of their ability to reduce healthcare costs and recommendations for making these centers a critical part of universal access to health care. Medical call centers are used in many other countries and have been found to be cost-effective, so why not in the US?

If you agree with the premise, why not pass it on?

What do you think? Please leave a comment!