Will Web Chat Take Over the Healthcare Call Center?
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
With the Millennial generation’s love for texting and general avoidance of placing a phone call, it’s tempting to project the demise of the call center. Although this may make for a logical conclusion, it’s not going to happen any time soon. Though tomorrow’s healthcare call center will undoubtedly have more chat transactions than it does now, the telephone will remain its primary communication device.
The reason is the simple fact that calls are superior in several key situations, and these significant advantages will not go away any time soon.
Talking is More Effective:
Speaking is faster than typing. When describing complex medical situations, speaking our words is more effective than typing them. With the status of our health at stake, we want to communicate quickly and to get it right the first time. The telephone allows us to do this.
Our Tone Carries Meaning:
Emotions are easier to communicate verbally and to be understood. Humor, desperation, and pain do not come across well in written form. How many times have you had a text message or email be misunderstood because your tone of voice did not come across?
Likewise, healthcare provider empathy comes across better when talking, instead of typing. It’s hard to communicate compassion through a chatbox.
Yes, we do have emojis, a graphical representation of various emotional states, yet emojis are prone to misunderstandings, offering confusion almost as often as clarity.
Pick Up the Phone:
In stressful situations, people of all generations will gravitate to the phone. It provides for fast and efficient communication in time-critical, stressful situations. Often, when people reach out for medical help, the situation is both time-critical and stressful. The telephone offers a simple, no-hassle way to communicate. That’s why it’s the go-to tool for difficult situations.
Yes, texting is the newer technology that all the cool kids use, while the telephone seems stodgy and old school in comparison. Yet when critical, timely, and accurate communication is essential, the telephone wins most every time.
In the future, your healthcare call center will undoubtedly handle more chat communications. However, the telephone will continue to ring for most situations.
To prepare for the future, embrace chat technology, if you haven’t already done so. But don’t lose sight of the telephone. It will continue to be the cornerstone of your healthcare call center operation for many years to come.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Medical Call Center News. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.
Telehealth: The Future of Telecommunications in the Healthcare Industry
By Vicotria Rodriguez
Around sixty years ago when someone in your family was sick, you called a doctor. The doctor would show up at your doorstep a few hours later with his duffle bag of medical equipment ready to diagnose and treat. Today the face of the healthcare industry has changed significantly as the introduction of telehealth and telemedicine solutions arise.
Telehealth is the use of medical information shared from one site to another using electronic communications to improve patient’s clinical health status. With the rise of healthcare costs and physician shortages, there are too many healthcare losses. Telehealth is the perfect resolution and provides a convenient, timesaving experience for both healthcare professionals and patients. It is easily accessed through basic technology like a telephone, internet, or computer.
According to the American Association of Medical colleges, there will be a shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 primary care physicians by 2025. While this is a significant problem for the entire healthcare system, it’s specifically an issue for those in rural areas, that are already underserved.
This is where telehealth especially comes in handy, due to its ability to be at patients’ fingertips anywhere, anytime. Typically, these sessions involve the physician reviewing an electronic medical record that contains the patient’s history, lab findings, x-rays, and other medical testing done in typical medical centers.
Telehealth is an expansion to small practices and many specialties including allergy and immunology, anesthesia, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and urology.
Telehealth providers can deliver the same care that an in-person provider can, with 86 percent of physicians saying they were satisfied with the quality of care provided while utilizing a telehealth system. While there are many arguments opposing the accuracy of the telehealth experience, it’s here to stay and will become more of an asset to telecommunication as technology advances.
10 Signs That It May Be Time to Outsource Your Hospital Call Center
By Keith Slater
Healthcare executives may not know when it’s time to pull the plug on a deficient in-house call center and outsource to a professional hospital call center. Here are ten signs that it might be time:
- You Miss Key Call Center Benchmarks: If 5 percent or more of patients hang up before they’re helped, hold times are longer than 60 seconds or call routing accuracy is under 99 percent, your call center may be understaffed or lacking training.
- Patient Satisfaction Scores Are Dropping: In healthcare, 96 percent of patient complaints relate to customer service. If your scores are trending down, your call center may be a big part of the problem.
- High Call Center Staff Turnover: Many healthcare providers fill call center jobs with entry-level people who have a front desk or scheduling know-how rather than professional customer service experience. As a result, people leave for a nominal pay increase somewhere else. Others are terminated because they don’t have the skills or empathy to handle patients.
- You Don’t Review Recorded Calls: The key to a successful call center is to reduce variation by scripting and enforcing telephone protocols. Often, healthcare leaders don’t have the time or technical telephony resources to evaluate service quality. This exacerbates patient dissatisfaction and leads to complaints.
- Call Center Staff Doesn’t Receive Ongoing Training: A lack of training affects patient satisfaction. It also leads to a revolving door of frustrated employees who feel unprepared to deliver quality service. Continuous quality improvement, agent coaching, and reinforcement training is key to lower turnover and increase patient satisfaction.
- You Don’t Track Revenue Losses from Patient Leakage: Loyalty is less important to patients than convenience. To protect and grow revenue, healthcare providers must monitor appointment volume, chase no-shows, and proactively call patients to encourage preventive care or return visits. Few providers have the staff to do so.
- Referring Providers Are Frustrated: If a referring provider can’t get through to make an appointment for their own patients, it puts revenue and future physician referrals at risk. Many healthcare organizations don’t have the resources to handle these calls any differently than patient calls. This results in resorting to archaic processes such as voicemail and faxing referrals.
- Inconsistent Patient Experience: A seamless patient experience is especially important in large healthcare systems. Without an efficient centralized call center, patients must make multiple calls or be routed from one department to another with inconsistent service and procedures.
- Poor Data Entry: When internal call center representatives fail to verify insurance, set payment expectations, or enter patient information correctly, it can lead to rejected claims, more work on the backend, and patient frustration.
- Providers Face Work Overload and Unbalanced Schedules: Physicians deal daily with the chronic strains of working with too many patients and having frequent stressful encounters with both patients and staff. If your internal call center has insufficient resources to manage large patient volumes, your providers can be at risk for burnout. In addition to focusing on patient satisfaction, it’s equally important to improve provider satisfaction to retain top medical talent.
Since a majority of patient care occurs in physician offices and patients must call for an appointment or to have questions answered, why risk using inadequate internal resources to manage an in-house call center? Instead consider outsourcing to a professional healthcare call center that’s up to the challenge.
Keith Slater is vice president of business development at Change Healthcare. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthcare Call Center News
TriageLogic Integrates Nurse Triage Software with Salesforce
TriageLogic© introduced a Salesforce integrated version of their nurse triage module. With MyTriageChecklist, the new comprehensive triage module, medical call centers with Salesforce can add nurse triage protocols to create a clinical call center out of the box. TriageLogic will be at Dreamforce November 6-9 to announce the new version of MyTriageChecklist at the largest enterprise software conference in the world.
Salesforce has recently gained momentum in providing the healthcare industry with their CRM platform to improve the patient experience. However, there is no actual clinical content in Salesforce. This is why TriageLogic and Silverline teamed up to develop a seamlessly integrated nurse triage module for Salesforce. With MyTriageChecklist, providers can access gold-standard Schmitt-Thompson protocols directly in their Salesforce platform to provide patients with quality nurse triage services.
“With the current trend in healthcare, having nurse advice available to every patient is critical to provide cost-effective, compassionate care. By integrating this module into Salesforce, any organization can set up a clinical call center,” said Ravi Raheja, MD, medical director for TriageLogic.
Some of the key highlights of this robust module include:
- Nurse triage protocols from Schmitt-Thompson, daytime and after-hours
- Preconfigured to work seamlessly inside Salesforce
- The fastest and most efficient interface in the industry
- Medication dosage charts; click to add to triage documentation
- Email and text handouts and encounter-specific care advice to callers
Visit www.triagelogic.com for more information.
A Thought for Today
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” -Wendell Berry