Jamelia Hand MHS CADC CODP is the CEO of Vantage Clinical Consulting LLC. In a recent episode of The Rehab Podcast, I interviewed Jamelia on the topic of Medication-Assisted Treatment of opioid use disorder and how to make this proven treatment more accessible and standardized. The following is a transcript of our interview. You can listen to the entire interview here. Or, you can download it here.
Jamelia Hand: So, during that establishment of a practice, we talk about developing a treatment framework, we talk about addiction treatment consideration, even before the practice readiness assessment, and I can tell you more about what’s involved in that. I do what I call a secret shopper. Have you heard of a secret shopper? Do you know what that is?
Mark Leeds: I can imagine, I think I’ve seen ads for that. Like you go to Macy’s and pretend you’re a customer.
Jamelia Hand: Yes. So, what I’ll normally do is I’ll have an intern or maybe a counselor colleague to give the office a call and simply ask about their services. What does it take to become a patient? And the goal is to really find out how they’re setting the tone for patients to arrive. You’d mentioned previously that you had an appointment of your own, a medical appointment. I’m not sure what it took to get that appointment. I have the type of healthcare professional, my physician, their office usually calls me. They’re proactive. They’ll call and say, “Hey, it’s time to do this screening. Have you made an appointment?” They’ve gone so far as to send me text messages and I feel really cared for.
Jamelia Hand: However, other organizations don’t always do those things to make you feel as though you’re a part of their practice family. So, if you were to give an office a call in many cases you’d be put on hold immediately. So, consider this, a patient is calling in, they may be in mild to moderate withdrawal, they’ve heard about Buprenorphine or Suboxone for medication-assisted treatment. Someone gave them the number of your colleague, they’re making the call.
Jamelia Hand: Now, mind you, they may have made 10 calls already to other providers that were full, they didn’t have appointments until August or they don’t accept their form of insurance. But they have gone through all of these steps with all of these other people, they’re now in withdrawal and they’re calling your office and the first thing that you do is to put them on hold. What does that say? That says that maybe you’re not that important to me.
Jamelia Hand: Now, it doesn’t mean that’s the case. It doesn’t mean that the phones are not ringing off the hook, it doesn’t mean that all the staff are not on other lines trying to get prior authorizations approved, it doesn’t mean that the physician isn’t taking care of someone else in your same condition. But as a patient who needs help right away, right now today, if they call in and the first thing they’re asked is what type of insurance you have or they’re put on hold, the message that they receive is that maybe this practice does not care about me. So, the secret shopper calls to uncover if a patient will have that experience within that initial phone call.
Mark Leeds: Now that you’ve mentioned that, I feel like I have had some of those calls myself. I don’t know who’s arranged for the secret shopper to call me.
Jamelia Hand: It wasn’t me.
Mark Leeds: That’s great because it’s true though that I think a lot of really great doctors don’t realize that their own staff is sabotaging their practices by treating patients that way when they come in or when they call.
Jamelia Hand: Absolutely. And what I attempt to do, I’ve actually taken physicians out of their office. So, it is possible, if we have a meeting set up and I know that I have an hour of their time, is there some place quiet that we can go outside of the office, maybe at a cafeteria close by or some other quiet space. I’ll say, “Come with me.” And I’ll make that call in front of the physician to their office so that they can actually hear. But what I tell them before is that this is a training opportunity. We are not doing this to be punitive, we’re making this call so that you can see how you might be losing patients.
Jamelia Hand: Because I get those calls as well. “Well, Jamalia my phones are not ringing or my phones used to ring off the hook and now I’m not getting as many calls as I used to get. So, can you figure out what’s happening here?” And some cases it is that initial phone call. Someone may be saying, “Oh, we’re booked.” But the scheduler has not communicated with the receptionist or the medical assistant that a few slots just opened up because a couple of patients were discharged from the program. So we have a communication issue and we also have a lack of knowledge that could prevent patients from coming in to get the treatment that you want to provide for them.
Please stay tuned for the continuation of this transcript of an incredible interview.