Posted by:Leesa John July 17th, 2013

A hospital hotline system is a secure, private and safe mechanism for anyone connected to the hospital to report financial, regulatory or patient safety violations. Hotlines play a key role in monitoring the quality of healthcare delivery, patient experience and practices in a hospital for providers to achieve broader governance, risk management, and compliance goals (GRC).

Hotlines can be used by patients and employees to report incidents. However, hotlines are not emergency services and should not be confused with ambulatory or medical emergency contact centers. They are also not meant to address administrative issues managed by hospital departments such as HR. Many hotline systems still run on pen and paper processes and open-door meetings though a few have gone online or mobile, offering people a virtual channel to report issues via web-based reports that can also be submitted anonymously. Mobile hotlines offer integrated telephony and web-based report capture features.
Scope of hospital hotlines 

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Hospital hotlines are made available through telephone numbers, via the hospital intranet if it is web-based or through an external link. They must include a whistle blower protection policy to protect complainants from retaliation and safeguard the identity of anonymous callers. The policy must:

  • include a circumspect statement that protects complainants from consequences of investigative actions,
  • refer applicable laws such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and
  • include retaliation protection contact information such as the Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program administered by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Issues that can be raised via hotlines usually fall into either of the following categories:
  • Compliance violations: Issues such as breach of confidentiality mandated by HIPAA guidelines, patient information leaks because of inappropriate use of technology or by persons, billing irregularities, etc.
  • Quality violations: Issues such as tardy patient care by any care provider – physician, nurse, lab technician, home care workers or hospice; incorrect medication dosages because of miscommunication; issues caused by inaccurate understanding of medical instructions; auditing or accounting problems; work-related injuries; etc.
  • Patient safety: Issues such as dissatisfaction with safety norms followed at the hospital, environmental risks, health hazards, substance abuse observed, and harassment in any form (written, verbal, or suggestive) and for any reason (race, sex, origin, age or religion).
  • Patient experience: Issues such as the physicians’ attitude and poor communication, patient’s lack of understanding of the diagnosis and treatment process, long waiting times, poor follow-up, etc.
  • Ethics violation: Issues such as conflict of interest, theft or embezzlement, corruption, bribery, intentional destruction of property, fraud, document falsifications, etc.
Automating hotline management with mobile
Mobile hotline solutions can be accessed by employees and patients anytime, anywhere, 24×7. They can submit incidence reports without waiting to get to a computer or going into the manager’s cabin, view the status of a complaint, and follow up with hotline administrators in real time. Enterprise mobile apps for hotlines protect user data and information with user authentication, data loss protection (DLP) controls, on device data encryption, sand boxing and other mobile application management (MAM) features.

Hotline administrators can view incidence reports collated from mobile, online and manager open-door reports on a centralized dashboard accessible on a tablet that’s always on and always available. The admin can initiate investigations from the dashboard, view progress reports, analyze trends and take decisions to suggest corrective actions at the hospital.

With a mobile hotline system, hospitals save money and time, shorten issue resolution times, address pain points, streamline workflows, optimize resource consumption, and augment the system’s influence on the hospital’s GRC efforts.

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