Healthcare call centers play an important role in the healthcare ecosystem. Some are performing outreach to close gaps in care, others are receiving inbound calls from patients trying to book appointments, and so on. Whether the focus is inbound or outbound, one issue remains, identifying the right provider and booking the appointment is difficult.
Typically, massive spreadsheets and/or three-ring binders full of provider information and scheduling rules must be combed through by agents to find the right provider. Once the provider is located a three-way call must be initiated so the call center agent can find a time that works for both the patient and the provider for an appointment. Many times, these three-way calls are unsuccessful, and even when they are successful, they are always tedious and time-consuming.
At MyHealthDirect, we believe that a good patient experience starts before a patient ever arrives at a doctor’s office. Namely, scheduling an appointment should be as easy and painless as possible, while still ensuring the best provider match for the patient’s need. Achieving superior patient experience requires end-to-end patient engagement that connects patients to their care both conveniently and accurately.
To this end, MyHealthDirect has built a digital care coordination platform that guides patients to the right provider. This solution can be used in multiple settings on any digital access channel, but in this post, we are focusing on the benefits specifically to call centers. Here are seven key areas where call centers can acclerate their operations the most by implementing state-of-the-art digital care coordination technology:
Reduce Length of Call Times
Call centers that adopt a digital care coordination platform report noteworthy reductions in average patient call length. Because all scheduling rules are automated in the system, call center agents can quickly and easily find and book appointments. Time is no longer wasted wading through binders of rules, scanning spreadsheets or connecting three-way calls. Less time spent hunting and coordinating means less time on the phone – for both agents and patients.
Reduce Call Volume
Digital care coordination can be implemented across any digital access channel – including patient self-scheduling on websites. Enabling patients to book their own healthcare appointments online means that fewer patients are opting to phone the health system call center in the first place. This translates to reduced call volume overall, and less work for busy call center staff. Moreover, patient satisfaction improves as the demand for self-service is met.
Quickly Find the Right Appointment
As we mentioned before, call center agents typically have a difficult time finding the right provider to meet a patient’s needs. The process often includes heinous spreadsheets and enormous binders to manually dig through. A good digital care coordination platform, however, automates each provider’s scheduling rules directly in the system, which enables call center agents to quickly and easily navigate to the right appointments, with the right providers, at the right time. By asking a few questions and entering the answers into the platform, a call center representative can determine the ideal provider and appointment for the patient’s needs. No more spreadsheets and binders – all the rules are now in the system!
Book Outside Office Hours
Many providers’ offices are closed during the times of day that patients are most available to make their care appointments, such as lunchtime and in the early evening after work. For many years, this has been a gap in the business of patient scheduling, where call centers simply shut down because appointments can’t be booked. However, the advent of digital care coordination has eliminated this problem. Now, call center staff have constant access to providers’ schedules, even outside of traditional office hours. This means that appointments can be booked even when the provider is inaccessible.
Automate Outreach by Phone or Text
Many health systems send automated phone and text campaigns to patients about their healthcare needs. But none of them include scheduling in the outreach experience. With digital care coordination, patients are able to use their phone keypad or text function to book appointments in real time, during the outreach experience. Not only does this save patients’ time, it improves call center efficiency by removing bad numbers from call lists. This allows call center representatives to focus their time and energy on the patients that require human interaction.
Eliminate Three-Way Calls
Typically, call centers depend on three-way calls to coordinate and book care appointments for patients. A large amount of time is wasted on every call as agents connect patients and providers on the line and sort through schedules to identify an appointment time that works. This is an arduous, time-consuming and often faulty process. With digital care coordination, call center agents can instantly book appointments without calling the provider – eliminating the need for three-way calls. Patients get the appointment they need faster, enabling call center agents to service more people.
Enhance Job Satisfaction for Agents
It may be hard to quantify, but the results are undeniable - call center agents love digital care coordination. Online systems save time, energy, resources and headaches for busy call center representatives, allowing them to reach higher levels of productivity and efficiency. Ultimately, it makes their job much less frustrating and helps them focus on guiding patients to the best care. Over time, this often translates to better employee retention and enhanced profitability for the health system.
Upgrading to a streamlined digital care coordination model unlocks a host of benefits for health system call centers. Not only are patients more satisfied but employees are, too. A health system call center can be a stressful environment – both for the representatives who handle large volumes of calls, and for patients who have to spend their valuable time on the phone. Without question, digital care coordination makes life a little easier for everyone involved.