Advanced Spine and Pain Improves Practice Efficiency With On Call Central

Many orthopedic surgeons are satisfied to simply finish residency and obtain board certification. Thomas J. Raley, M.D. took his training a bit further, pursuing a fellowship in spinal surgery and pain management. That drive and training, along with physician assistants, physical therapists, and other trained staff allow the surgeon to offer truly comprehensive care. Advanced Spine and Pain (ASAP) is a multidisciplinary practice that provides total spine care, including minimally invasive surgery, directed physical therapy, interventional pain management, and the latest in spinal surgery procedures.

In order to deliver advanced, comprehensive care to a large patient population, Dr. Raley needs to have the logistics of his practice running smoothly. Since the surgeon currently takes all of his own call, an efficient and accurate answering system is not just important—it is essential.

At A Glance 

Overview

  • Advanced Spine and Pain
  • Four locations in Northern Virginia
  • Number of Surgeons: 1
  • Provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary spine and pain care 

Problem

  • The practice’s live answering service was “inefficient, erroneous, and expensive.” Solution
  • On Call Central provides a cost-effective automated call management system that is virtually error-free. 

Results

  • Surgeons receive clear messages, rapidly, and in the patient’s words
  • On call physicians can respond to pages from their personal phone without displaying that personal number
  • Recorded calls makes call documentation burden-free
  • Implementation was fast and “painless”
  • The reliability of an automated system outperforms live answering services

Problem 

Michael Moran, MBA, MS, Practice Administrator at ASAP, sums up the problem with the practice’s old live answering service, calling it “inefficient, erroneous and expensive.” Mr. Moran describes the inefficiency of the live answering service saying, “there were many times when Dr. Railey didn’t get the message or it didn’t come across correctly.” He goes on to describe numerous instances in which the surgeon could not return calls in a timely manner. All too often calls were either dropped or too much time elapsed between the patient’s call and Dr. Raley receiving a message. Moreover, the live answering service was wasting significant amounts of the Dr. Raley’s time. In a one surgeon practice, this was unacceptable.

Our live answering service was inefficient, erroneous, and expensive.

Solution 

On Call Central is a secure, automated call management system that uses web-based technologies to directly connect patients to physicians through secure phone communication. The secure, HIPAA-compliant system routes, records, and archives every call. This approach eliminates the error introduced by operators who lack medical training. The surgeon hears the patient’s message directly and the interaction is recording and archived for easy inclusion in the patient’s medical record. On Call Central’s message triaging system helps eliminate “nuisance” calls while allowing important patient calls to come through verbatim. Mr. Moran candidly admits that “having those calls recorded in an archive is fantastic.” 

The key to On Call Central’s ability to deliver fast and accurate results comes from its innovative core features. Callers are first presented with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu that plays a customizable, recorded greeting. The menu options begin to triage calls immediately—prioritizing urgent calls to the physician or shunting non-urgent and inappropriate overnight calls, such as prescription refills and new patient appointment requests, to a voice mail system. On Call Central send “real” recorded message to the on-call physician who can replay it at the touch of a button. Pressing one more button connects the On Call physician with the caller and the consultation begins. While Dr. Raley sometimes shares his personal number with patients, the callback numbers on On Call Central calls are always kept confidential.

On Call Central connects patients Dr. Raley much faster than the practice had experienced in the past. Patients get timely care when they need it most and the busy surgeon makes the most of his on call time, by spending far less time on hold.

Results

Dr. Raley and the staff at ASAP are extremely pleased with the switch from live answering to On Call Central. In addition to dramatic improvements in efficiency and accuracy, ASAP enjoys these other benefits of the On Call Central platform:

  • “Painless” installation. Michael Moran describes the process for switching to On Call Central saying that all he really needed to do was “fill out the questionnaire, which took me about 30 minutes.” He simply needed to tell the professionals at On Call Central some specifics about the practice and they took care of the rest. Michael added, “I don’t know how long it took them but for me, it was less than an hour.”
  • Fast setup. When asked if the practice was inconvenienced during the setup, the practice administrator said, “it was nothing that put us behind. I can tell you that… we must have done it all in one day.” He added, “I wish everything was that painless.” A core advantage of On Call Central is fast, customizable setup.
  • Customization. That questionnaire that Michael mentioned captures the specific needs of the practice. On Call Central has the flexibility can adapt to one provider or multiple call schedules. More importantly for ASAP, the service allows users to create a customized phone tree that “triages” a call before a message is recorded. Perhaps the most telling phrase came from Dr. Raley himself, saying of On Call Central that “we don’t need anything more, don’t need anything less.”
  • Message integrity. One of the Dr. Raley’s main problems with live answering systems was the poor accuracy of the messages received. With the automated service, Mr. Moran states, “there’s nothing lose to the interpretation.” The surgeon gets to hear the patient describe their own issue, leaving any medical interpretation up to the highly trained provider, Dr. Raley, and not a phone operator.
  • Reliability. Since moving to On Call Central, the instances of slow service and missed messages from a live operator have ceased. This is a major advantage of a fully automated system.
  • Easier documentation. A key benefit of On Call Central is that every message is recorded and available for inclusion in the medical record. This was a big difference from the previous live answering system according to Michael. As opposed to the old live answering service, Mr. Moran states that, “Now there’s a record. One of his [Dr. Raley’s] support staff checks the calls on a daily basis to verify that he documented the call in the chart. If he didn’t, she makes sure it’s included.” What is more, On Call Central tracks the response to those calls, providing an entry for the patient’s health record and medico-legal purposes.