Real-World Contact Center Lessons to Improve Patient Experience

healthcare contact centers

Experience and Satisfaction matter just as much in the healthcare sector as in any other industry. With the growing healthcare awareness, the standard of patient satisfaction has changed a lot. It doesn’t only pertain to the quality of treatment and care, patients are willing to pay extra for comprehensive care. And this comprehensive care includes everything from hygiene, technology, and infrastructure to communication. Patient satisfaction is influenced by the patient’s engagement i.e how you interact with your patients.

In the hospital and patient interaction journey, patients encounter a series of experiences like appointments, waiting hours, availability of medicines in pharmacies, etc. Based on these parameters, patients build their perception of your healthcare center.

Over the years, some external factors have strained the relationship between the healthcare industry and the public. One of the biggest factors is patient engagement or communication. Thus, the healthcare industry has outsourced their patient management and support services and started deploying contact centers’ capabilities.

This blog will look at plenty of real-world healthcare contact center lessons to offer a better patient experience. But before jumping into the lessons, it is important for you to understand why we need to learn these lessons. For this, you need to explore some of the core challenges of healthcare contact centers.

Challenges Healthcare Contact Centers Face Today

The healthcare contact center acts as a crucial link between patients and physicians and between various providers and administrators. Today, when patients have so many options, they can always find new providers. This is one of the reasons why every conversation with the agents must be perfect. If the patients have an urgent need, then they should be able to get an appointment on the same day.

A quality contact center should ensure that the patients get a positive experience. Here are some of the challenges that haunt the healthcare industry in a big way and can be mitigated with a quality contact center:

Challenges healthcare contact centers

1. Disorganized Processes

Due to many acquisitions and mergers in the modern healthcare industry, call centers have disparate and disorganized software with faulty foundations and are incompatible with modern healthcare centers. There is a spread of information across different tools that serve to complicate the process and unnecessarily prolong responses to customers.

With the chaotic and disorganized processes, both customer satisfaction and revenues hit. Without efficient and compatible software, information cannot be consolidated under one system, impacting agent productivity. Also, disorganized processes lead to a disjoint customer journey.

2. Issues with Communication Channels

While a call center deals with phone calls exclusively, contact centers offer an omnichannel experience and can thus handle customer interactions across several channels. A multichannel support strategy is a must for healthcare contact centers today; even if 68% of customers prefer a phone call, they should be given a choice to communicate.

Clinging to phone calls when you can two-way SMS, LiveChat, email, or social media messaging can take a toll on productivity and outreach.

3. Lack of Care in Healthcare

You might argue that healthcare is about medicine, healing, and health. It, however, is also about caring to a certain extent. When an agent talks rudely with a customer, provides them with the wrong information, or talks to them in a detached and bored tone, a lack of care shows. Respecting patients’ time and taking their concerns seriously is one way of showing the care that builds patient loyalty in the long term.

4. Delayed Appointment Reminders

Did you know that 37% of patients missed appointments either because they forgot or they had no information about an appointment in the first place?

That speaks volumes about the industry’s lack of information and process streamlining. A unified contact center solution can help streamline the patient outreach process in a big way by automating appointments, follow-ups, and aftercare reminders.

5. Long Call Waiting Times

If you keep your patients waiting long enough, they might leave and never return. Even when they don’t hang up, there are chances that they are frustrated with the agent taking the call. Also, when an organization grows and gets good at what it does, demand for its healthcare services would grow, and so would the call volumes. It can become overwhelming to the agent and eventually result in missed calls, long calls, or high abandonment rates. This is especially true in the healthcare sector, where hospitals are understaffed.

These healthcare challenges are not only taking a toll on patient experience but also deteriorating the healthcare system of the nation. To avoid this, you need a thriving patient contact center or modern healthcare contact center.

Modern Healthcare Contact Centers

Modern contact centers provide the healthcare industry the ability to communicate and satisfy patients during their health journey. Modern healthcare contact centers facilitate hospitals & clinics with automated frameworks that connect teams with patient data. This further optimizes operations and increases overall operational efficiency.

What does a Modern Healthcare Contact Center look like?

Modern healthcare centers can tide over the many challenges mentioned above with a revamped approach and by adopting some tools and technologies that can render agents more effective and efficient. Here are a few ways to do this.

Modern Healthcare Contact Center

1. An Omnichannel Approach

Today’s patients expect to be able to contact their agents via many channels like email, secure chat, social media, etc. Bringing in an omnichannel strategy via tools like a unified agent desktop can ensure that you are equipped to handle patients from the most common channels of our age.

For many physicians, the major pain points are their daily practice management issues and challenges such as lack of staff. They don’t have the number of administrative staff to operate efficiently. And on the clinical side, it’s the same – they’re strapped.

By integrating inbound and outbound communication channels via omnichannel strategy, healthcare providers expand their capabilities to cater to more patients with a consistent quality of service.

2. Personalized Communication with Patients from the Start

With the growing digitalization, Personalization has become the Key CX Parameter for 2022. Consumerism has seeped into the healthcare sector as well. Healthcare organizations compete to gain and retain patients- precisely why first impressions become essential. If you wish for patients to make your organization their choice of healthcare, a positive patient experience is a must. Healthcare organizations should strive to make the patient experience as comforting as possible, from personalization to self-service.

As per a report, more than half (54 percent) of consumers feel that their healthcare providers and insurers don’t have all the contextual information needed to personalize healthcare recommendations.

One way to ensure this is by striking a delicate balance between automation and human touch while keeping personalization at the pivot of service. It would help provide personalized reminders, aftercare, and follow-up outreach to patients, substantially reducing no-shows, cancellations, and re-admissions.

3. Unified View of patient information

Imagine the time saved for both parties if agents have all the information displayed right before them, and they can access it without switching across screens! A productive healthcare contact center should have tools for a unified view of patient information like the Agent Desktop for healthcare.

Watch how Unified Agent Desktop helps the Healthcare Industry.

With a 360-degree view of patient information, agents can deliver the best service possible without delays and misinformation from their basic credentials to their interaction journey with the organization. Patients wouldn’t have to keep repeating themselves repeatedly and would be able to get the remedy to their problems in a quick manner.

4. Security of Patient Information

Operating tools that are compliant with the Electronic Health Records(EHR) systems should be one of the topmost priorities of healthcare centers if they wish to avert serious legal, financial, and reputational repercussions.

HIPAA journals report that in 2020 alone, 642 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records were reported, resulting in 29 million breached healthcare records. Of these breached records, hacking/IT incidents—most notably ransomware—accounted for 92%.

Getting HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant tools set the primary standard for sensitive patient data protection. It garners patient trust in the organization. All data from healthcare records across pharmacy, radiology, laboratory systems, health plans, and insurance claims are protected as organizations try to level up the quality and efficiency of patient care by adopting new tools and technologies.

5. Close the Gaps in Care Through Reporting

A core requirement for healthcare contact centers is measuring and reporting quality metrics. However, directly influencing those metrics can often be a struggle. Improving quality metrics is directly correlated with identifying and addressing gaps in care.

Reporting ensures you and your team with the proper data management in place, agents can see a complete picture of the patient’s history, including social determinants, empowering your team to flag potential exceptional living circumstances, health risk factors, and barriers to care plan adherence.

With a comprehensive patient view, you can build out journeys for your patient personas, close gaps in care, and establish robust preventative routines that help your patient stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

6. Influence Overall Impact on Patient-Experience

A satisfying patient experience stems from the ability of healthcare contact centers to meet patients where they are, allowing them to start a conversation on the channel of their choice, such as SMS messaging or through an app. After patients have started a conversation on one channel, they can seamlessly switch channels, hopping over to a phone call without missing a beat. It comes in particularly handy in the case of a sensitive or complicated conversation involving a patient’s health.

According to a research, 82% of patients say quality customer service is the most important factor they consider when choosing care

A better Customer Service can increase your business revenue. Similarly, if you treat your patients with value-oriented services, it improves the growth of your healthcare center. Contact center agents and coordinators can streamline inquiry, case, and incident resolutions and provide more on the first call with complete visibility into patient interactions and provider relationships. Incorporating predictive analytics into the agent’s workflow can help identify the individual’s next best step or action.

Perhaps patients don’t have access to a car and cannot make an appointment, or childcare falls through at the last minute. You may have a doctor’s office closer to your home or workplace. In this scenario, analytics can detect if a patient lacks access to transportation, captured as part of their social determinants of health. It then alerts the agent, who can help the patient arrange a ride to avoid missing the appointment.

Remember, your patients expect a cohesive, intelligent experience every time they interact with your organization. In today’s value-based healthcare world, having that personalized experience is more important than ever. Learn different ways to offer Personalized Customer Service here.

benefits of quality contact centers

The benefits of quality contact centers for modern medical centers are clear. By providing a more patient-centered customer experience that eases pain points and streamlines patient access to the resources they need, doctors can create better relationships with their patients. Satisfied patients are also more likely to refer people they know to a physician’s office that offers a high-quality experience, helping the practice grow even more. Patients can access treatment more quickly, boosting their satisfaction levels — and ensuring steady growth in the practice’s bottom line.

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