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Telemedicine


A new telecommunications solution enhances


productivity and patient care


Outdated system hampered productivity. By Keith Szymkiw


ors and patients. We needed a solution in short order. For some time, ineffi ciencies related to our telecom- munications were a growing concern. Calls from patients needing counseling sometimes went unanswered when call volume was too high or phones were left unattended at remote sites with limited staff. Inter-offi ce communi- cation between on-staff mental health professionals was also diffi cult. Staff needed to dial an outside line and the full phone number, making quick consults cumbersome, and making it impossible to transfer an outside call from one clinic to another.


A


staff mental health professionals was needed to dial an outside line and the making quick e, and


ble de to


Beyond these com- munications challenges,


m- ges,


our phones were affecting our bottom line. The continual interaction between offi ces resulted in high phone bills each month. Staff resources were also being allocated inappro- priately. Instead of focusing on patient care, we had staff at each location doing billing, insurance processing and other administrative tasks. Oakland Psychological Clinic founder Barry Tigay, M.D., agrees there was a problem, “The existing system simply was not answering our needs. We had to improve responsiveness to patient calls and increase collaboration among counselors.”


fecting our bottom line The continual About us


The Oakland Psychological Clinic provides a full range of mental health and chemical-dependency services to children, adolescents, adults, families and organizations. We are a private, for-profi t corporation based in Bloomfi eld, Mich. Over the past 28 years, we’ve grown in response to


26 August 2011


t the Oakland Psychological Clinic, we were utilizing disparate phone systems in each of our offi ces, which was compromising the effective- ness of communication between staff, counsel-


One way we have found to improve practice effi ciencies and at the same time enhance patient care is by replacing our outdated telecommunications system.


the needs of the communities we serve, now operating eight clinics in southeastern Michigan.


clinics in southeastern Michigan. Our recent growth could be due


Our recent growth could be due in part to the Great Recession th


ecession the country has been plagued


plagued with during the past few


few years. The dueling ef


effects of job losses and ho


and


home foreclosures has re


depression, anxiety and suicide. Nine state


resulted in escalating d


mental health agencies have reported increased emergency- room visits for psychiatric care since the recession began, and fi ve agencies reported higher suicide rates, according to the state mental health association.


mental health agencies have reported i


This increase in patients comes at a time when state funding is being cut. Over the past two years, states have cut a combined $1.8 billion from the public mental health system, according to a recent report by the National Al- liance for Mental Illness, an advocacy group that tracks mental health spending in all 50 states. We are in the position of literally having to do more with less. We have to balance reduced reimbursements and increased costs with the need to run a profi table practice. In the process, it’s important for us to ensure that the quality of care and overall patient experience are not compromised. One way we have found to improve practice effi ciencies and at the same time enhance patient care is by replacing our outdated telecommunications system.


HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY www.healthmgttech.com


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