Hidalgo Medical Services (HMS) continues to serve our patients and our community and to make the needed changes to serve the community effectively within the current challenging healthcare environment by adapting and being proactive to provide good quality healthcare. Similar to most healthcare systems and businesses in this difficult economic environment, HMS has its share of challenges and opportunities. In response to the recent Editorial in the Grant County Beat, we wanted to provide factual information to demystify the article's content.
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, HMS was the primary provider of testing and vaccinations; this increased demand for services led to its phone systems reaching capacity. Often, the call demand led to an inability to answer the calls due to phone line capacity being reached or an inability to answer the calls in a timely manner due to the volume of calls entering the system. HMS took the situation seriously and, listened to the feedback from the community and immediately began researching available phone systems, and worked with our local phone carrier to determine the best solution.
In January 2023, HMS invested in a new phone system. A key component of the new phone system was converting analog phone lines to voice-over IP (VoIP). Before changing the phone system to VoIP, HMS requested to transfer our existing phone numbers from the different carriers to our existing system. Most numbers were transferred except for the Lordsburg, Lordsburg High School, Animas, Cliff, and Mimbres clinics. These numbers have been around for many years, especially the Lordsburg numbers.
We were not aware these numbers were grandfathered from the old phone carrier, and as part of the sale/merger many years ago, the new carriers had to choose the policy to allow those to be transferred to the owner. In our case, these numbers are not allowed to be transferred. We tried to advocate to keep these numbers, but it was out of our control. We realize this is an inconvenience to our patients, and we hoped to avoid this at all costs.
While in transition, our current carriers are forwarding calls received from the "old" numbers to the new number. The end user doesn't know any difference, although we experienced some dropped calls. Because of these issues, we are working hard to educate the community to dial our new vanity number, 575-800-1HMS. HMS has rolled out extensive social media, radio ads, internal messaging, updated information cards to hand out to patients, new phone hold messages, and much more to help with patient education.
In addition to marketing, we have made many system changes, as recent as in the last two weeks. We are currently seeing a significant decline in the number of dropped calls. The industry standard of dropped and abandoned calls is 5% or less, and HMS is striving to meet that metric. In the last two weeks, we have averaged a dropped/abandoned call rate of 5.4%, which is a drastic improvement from last quarter's data.
HMS receives approximately 1,000 incoming calls per day, which translates to 5,000 calls a week and 60,000 calls annually.
As stated above, HMS purchased a new system in January of 2023. At that point of conversion, the old phone system was no longer in use. All calls received have been routed through the new phone system for the last 13 months.
HMS is striving to simplify the process by advertising one number for all clinics; this is not a local number to Silver City and surrounding areas (Tyrone, Bayard, Santa Clara, and Hurley), although HMS still has a toll-free number (888-271-3596) for anyone with a landline number. The phone number for the Community Health Center, Med Square, Tu Casa, Tranquil Skies, Silver High School Based Health Center, Cobre High School Based Health Center, and the Mining District Clinic are still local numbers and are active to call. However, by calling the 575-800-1HMS (1467) number, you are directly routed to our call center for more efficient service.
Patients are not required to drive to a local clinic; if a patient does not have the financial ability to pay for long distance, they can call the toll-free number. In addition, patients can also request an appointment, message their provider, request medical records, and request a prescription refill through their Patient Portal.
The Mining District Clinic located in Santa Clara is positioned to service the entire Mining District. As stated in the article, HMS did close the clinic in Bayard, but we were able to open the Mining District Clinic
approximately 1.5 miles from the old Bayard location. Therefore, HMS is still able to provide healthcare services without any barrier to care for the Mining District (Bayard, Santa Clara, and Hurley) community. In addition, the Cobre High School Based Health Center is available to students and staff of the district to support local students in the school system that need healthcare. This is to prevent the student from missing school and the parents from missing work. These clinics allow patients to receive services in their local community without having to drive to Silver City.
As mentioned above, we have transitioned to a new phone system; we have a Patient Portal, toll-free number, extended hours, and clinics in local communities; we are focusing on servicing the underserved or underinsured. In addition to this, HMS has a Family Support Department to support patients with barriers to social determinants of health, such as insurance, sliding fee, SNAP enrollments, car seat programs, utility assistance, referrals for housing, and much more. We are doing the above to service our patients and our community better and not to cause any hinderance to the community.
HMS believes and is committed to our mission and is here to provide the needed services in our community. From our HMS Board Members to our custodial staff, to our providers and our Care Coordinators, the entire team is working to provide high-quality services to better serve you. If you have any questions related to the services we provide or a direct question related to the above, we are requesting that you call 575-223-0264 or email us at email@example.com .
[Editor's Note: The editorial was not "False." It said the number given out to patients is NOT a local number, which is confirmed in this news release, bolded above). Please refer to https://www.grantcountybeat.com/editorials/editorial/82510-hms-alleged-to-be-phasing-out-old-phone-system-to-the-detriment-of-its-patients for context And to use VOIP, you might want to read this article: https://www.howtogeek.com/824939/what-is-voip-voice-over-ip-calling-explained/. This editor looked at several websites for an answer to Can a limited local only landline access a VOIP number, and could not find a reliable yes or no answer. Mostly, they changed to subject to what the website wanted to talk about, which was the advantages and benefits to a VOIP number, so the Beat is sorry not to be able to find a REAL answer.