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12/17/2009
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H1N1 Hotline Spreads Flu Info

Healthcare providers may use the phone and online service to provide H1N1 information while preserving medical resources for truly urgent care.

The Beryl Companies, which provides outsourced call center services for the healthcare industry, has launched a new service to help hospitals provide hotlines for useful information for people with questions and concerns about H1N1.

H1N1 Risk Assessment lets healthcare providers make phone connections between members of their communities and trained medical advisors who can provide information about the virus and walk callers through a three-minute self-assessment to determine their risk of contracting H1N1, or whether they already have the virus. The service is also available online, Beryl said. The self-assessment was developed by A.D.A.M., a provider of health information solutions.

The service is designed to build consumer confidence in the healthcare provider, preserve emergency department resources for truly urgent care, build relationships with community physicians by offering the services as a tool, speed patient access to medical services by connecting with Beryl's patient scheduling or physician referral services, and build traffic to hospital Web sites.

"Since 2008, the public has been bombarded with stories about H1N1 deaths, leading some normally timid consumers of healthcare to become more eager to seek professional medical care at the slightest sign of illness, even when they may simply have a cold and need over-the-counter medicines," said Paul Spiegelman, founder and CEO of Beryl, in a statement. "Often, consumers just want medical professionals to help them assess their condition, or to have access to reliable information about this virus."

The service lets hospitals provide people with information on H1N1 and makes it easier for consumers to access healthcare services they need. The service also helps consumers save time and money by helping determine when they don't need to see a doctor, which allows providers to save time and resources for patients with immediate needs.

The service provides a unique 800-number to connect consumers to advisors who are equipment with relevant and factual H1N1 information based on CDC guidelines. The advisors walk callers through self-assessment. Hospitals can also use their existing patient care phone number, offering prompts that will connect callers to the H1N1 hotline.

The online component lets consumers gauge their risk of infection and get a personal action plan, along with up-to-date links to articles and news about the virus.

Beryl provides support around-the-clock and services can be branded to support hospital marketing.

Healthcare organizations are harnessing information technology to provide information about H1N1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is getting the word out on YouTube. And Google launched a service to help people find where they can get flu shots.

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