Night Nurse Performs Triage on Paperwork

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2015-06-22 Email Print this article Print
Managing medical paperwork

A national medical advice service that operates 24 hours a day dials into better document management to improve patient care and meet privacy regulations.

One of the challenges for an organization that relies on a virtual call center is connecting people and data effectively. With representatives working from home offices and other locations, there's no room for glitches, breakdowns and problems.

For Night Nurse, a Framingham, Mass., firm that dispenses after-hours medical advice and nurse triage for patients in support of the medical community, the potential for problems is even greater. Lives may be at risk, and it's critical to adhere to privacy regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

"By taking calls that come in during weekends and nights, we are able to provide better quality of life for physicians and medical staff," says Stuart Pologe, chief operations officer for Night Nurse, which serves physicians and other practitioners in pediatrics, family care and internal medicine at hospitals, colleges and universities. "Although we operate 24 hours a day, our primary function is to provide support after hours. The Affordable Care Act has made it crucial for practitioners to provide a continuum of care."

The company typically responds to more than 18,000 calls per month. Night Nurse operates a call center in Framingham but also relies on remotely located registered nurses who are scattered across the United States. This decentralized approach ensures that, in the event of a disaster or emergency, agents outside the affected region are available immediately to address anything from basic questions to serious medical conditions or events.

The firm's technology platform includes three Internet Service Providers (ISPs), more than 80 analog and Voice over IP (VoIP) phone lines, proprietary software and cloud-based backup services with 4G switchover capabilities. It also relies on backup generators and battery systems to keep operations running at all times.

Facing a Growing Paperwork Challenge

However, the company, which was founded in 1999, found itself facing a growing challenge. "We generate more than 40,000 pieces of paper every month, often in the form of HIPAA-compliant faxes," Pologe reports. "Managing the paperwork was becoming incredibly difficult and time-intensive."

Consequently, Night Nurse turned to Brother for networked multifunction devices to preserve the information about cases digitally. By indexing and time-stamping documents, the devices enable staff member to search for and find paperwork faster.

The devices include MFC-8950DWT printers, as well as the IntelliFax 4750e laser fax. This allows Night Nurse to print out documents from the incoming stream of calls—sometimes in excess of 100 calls per hour—for a legal record and backup.

Because the firm is continues to grow, this approach enable it to get new customers up and running quickly, while ensuring that their information is available immediately. "The equipment is an integral part of creating a larger, reliable technology platform," Pologe says.

The solution has helped Night Nurse navigate a complex business and regulatory environment. "In the past, we had used a number of manufacturers, but we did not have a solution in place that addressed our business challenges in a consistent and practical way," Pologe explains.

"After experimenting with a number of manufacturers and multifunction devices, we came across a technology and approach that allows us to consistently document every call that comes in and ensure that there's a paper backup in the case of any type of technology failure. We now have an extremely reliable system in place."

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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