I was lucky enough to spend some time with Venkat Sathiyamoorthy, Senior Vice President, Connected Health, Tunstall Americas during my trip to the US recently.

I was fascinated to learn that we work with 15 hospitals in the New York Metro City region (covering a population of 8.4 million), but even more fascinating was the vast amount of hospitals in the area – a total of 140, and Tunstall Americas is the preferred vendor of 138 of them.

So I asked Venkat what do we actually do? He takes up the story “Well it all started by offering an out of hours (OOH) answering service for the outpatient hospital teams as reception desks are rarely open outside day time hours. This was going very well, and soon the hospitals asked if we could cover their day time calls. This extended to other departments and now we answer all the calls coming into the hospital, including scheduling appointments, primary care, medication, paediatrics, eye, cardiology, radiotherapy and even ambulance care network calls too.

“We are their switchboard and have access to their databases, so we are able to directly page the right clinician if a code blue (an emergency such as a heart attack) calls the hospital. We have much better back up systems than the hospital and of course we’re open 24 hours a day.”

Taking the pain away

Calls through to Tunstall Americas take an average of 45 seconds to answer. Can you remember the last time you tried to call your hospital department and get through to the right person? It can be a very tedious experience at a stressful time, and the Tunstall Americas service takes all that pain away.

I asked what the biggest pressures are for hospitals in the US. He said they need to alleviate the number of patients just walking in. Apparently this happens a lot when you can’t get through over the phone. With our support, we’re able to make sure patient access is greatly improved, as we control the diary of the consultant, making sure the 50 appointments a week are booked and that reminders are sent to all patients either by phone, text or email. Venkat describes this as “Revenue Cycle Management” and “no shows” are drastically reduced.

The business has grown via word of mouth as the medical profession are a talkative bunch. But this wouldn’t have happened of course, without our customers being totally satisfied with our service.

So our 450 strong team with its head office in Rhode Island, is the number one medical answering service for New York and is the centralized appointment scheduling centre for most of the city hospitals in NYC.

It’s quite an achievement, and an interesting model for the UK to consider.

Photo: Venkat Sathiyamoorthy, Senior Vice President, Connected Health, Tunstall Americas