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  1. Is your on-call schedule blocking your communications? 

    By December 29, 2016 6:18 pm




    A few weeks ago we published a post saying that HIPAA compliance in a medical communications platform isn’t enough for that platform to be useful, or even interesting. In that post, we talked about the need to ensure that the secure information being transmitted reaches the correct end-user. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    What we didn’t really talk about is one of the roadblocks to getting information to the right person: on-call schedules. Scheduling your group seems like just a management or housekeeping problem. However, it’s far more. It’s a significant communications problem, because a broken schedule adds friction to the process of getting medical information to that end-user, the on-call physician.

    Think about it like this: No one ever asks who is on-call for fun. If they ask, it’s because they need to communicate with that provider.

  2. Your Nurses Hate Your Answering Service

    By December 22, 2016 3:53 pm



    There’s not a lot of ambiguity in the title of this post. Your nurses do, in fact, hate your answering service. We know because they’ve told us.

    The simplest reason why is because of the significant discrepancy between what nurses want to be doing each workday and what they actually do. They spend too much time on the phone or filling out paperwork when they want to and should be working with patients. Trying to get in touch with a third party – whether it’s a specialist, send-out lab, imaging facility or even a patient – is an obvious challenge. However, trying to work through an answering service to connect with the on-call physician, a person who in theory should be right there when a need arises, adds an additional layer of unnecessary pain.



  3. Pagers…Really?! Turning the Page on Mobile Medical Communications

    By November 22, 2016 5:41 pm



    ­­Last week, one of us here at BeckonCall grabbed the phone to get in touch with a physician’s office to clarify a question about insurance coverage for a recent minor procedure. Instead of the usual recorded message directing him to “press 1 for appointments, press 2 for billing,” etc., the machine clicked on after one ring and announced that the practice was closed for the day. And then, the office manager’s voice said, “if you are an existing patient and are calling with an urgent medical question, please call Dr. Smith’s pager at 555-123-4567, pager number 89.”


    Make no mistake, we at BeckonCall are well aware of the prevalence of pagers in medical practices. Finding better ways to get in touch with physicians is literally our reason for existence. And indeed, we spend a lot of time talking about the use of legacy technology – like fax machines and pagers – in medical practices. Even so, it was a jolt for our colleague to hear, in the context of being a patient, that he was supposed to set off an irritating alarm screamed from a box on “Dr. Smith’s” hip. This is 2016, after all.


    Pager use may be on the decline, but they’re not gone yet. Why? A Slate article published earlier this year by Dr. Allison Bond reviews some of the reasons. It’s a good read, so be sure to check it out. Briefly, though, Bond points to the simplicity of pagers (battery life, for example) and their reliability when receiving messages. She also notes that there is some pride when physicians and other providers are first given a pager, although she’s quick to point out that the novelty wears off in a hurry.


    There are a number of other concerns medical providers and practices express when talking about switching away from pagers. Below are a few, as well as responses that might help break the inertia of technological stagnation.

  4. Don’t Be Distracted By This Feature of Medical Communication Technology

    By November 16, 2016 5:00 pm



    Remember when it seemed exciting to find a communications tool that touted HIPAA compliance at the top of its feature list? “Is it secure?” was one of the first questions asked when evaluating medical communication technology. Now, 20 years after the Kennedy-Kassebaum Act was first passed, compliance is generally assumed. Of course, HIPAA compliance is critically important. It’s the law. But it now sits in the background, almost as part of the scenery, instead of prominently featuring in discussions about how a system works. It’s like airbags in your car; they’re legally mandated and you spend no more than a few seconds thinking about them when shopping for a new ride.