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Technology Solutions for the Home Healthcare Industry


Pulsar360: strategic partners with the TAS industry


In addition to being a strategic partner with over 160 medical-centric call centers. Pulsar360, Inc. has partnered with MEDsys, provider of web-based home care and private duty care management solutions.

A key component is their electronic visit verification solution, “which is where we come in,” states Michael Dozier, president and CEO of Pulsar360. “Our customized interactive voice response application and highly reliable network integrated with their software provides mobile visit verification, integrated scheduling, payroll, and billing into one platform that is available every hour of every day.”

This customizable solution provides real-time data exchange to manage the check-in and check-out visit confirmation through IVR and GPS technology and the scheduling component. This also provides a security component for the agency and their staff.

Upon arrival at the patient’s home, the caregiver calls a toll-free number to clock-in and enters their MEDsys secure ID number, which automatically clocks them in. When their shift is over they call their toll-free number and enter their MEDsys secure pin. That clocks them out. The caregiver can also add the plan of care into the phone, which Pulsar360 updates in real time.

“As the home health industry continues to embrace technology, MEDsys will lead the way through workflow automation,” said Ritch Adams, CEO of MEDsys. “President Obama signed into law The Cures Act which will mandate electronic visit verification for every State Medicaid program by 2019. MEDsys is a leader in providing EVV to state, MCO Medicaid, and private pay programs. We continue to receive positive feedback for our workflow automation that saves state Medicaid programs millions of dollars while improving patient care.”

Pulsar360: strategic partners with the TAS industryMEDsys’s VinCENT software solutions integrated with Pulsar360’s technology solution support Medicare, Medicaid, skilled and non-skilled private duty, pediatrics and adult nursing. VinCENT electronic visit verification is a leading time and attendance product. It supports state and MCO Medicaid programs as well as with home care agencies.

The October/November 2018 Issue of AnswerStat

Read the October issue of AnswerStat, the information hub for healthcare contact centers.



Feature Content:

5 Call Center Improvements Patients Say Would Improve Healthcare Experiences, by Allison Hart
Healthcare organizations put a lot of time and resources into designing top-notch patient experiences. It makes sense to have call center optimization be part of those efforts.… read more >>

Vital Signs: Call Center Lessons from a Walk-In Healthcare Clinic, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Apply these observations of a healthcare clinic to make your medical contact center a shining example of success that your callers and patients appreciate.… read more >>

Vendor Spotlight on TeamHealth Medical Call Center
With twenty-two years of experience and eleven million triage calls, TeamHealth Medical Call Center can serve a vital role in patient care coordination efforts.… read more >>

Guest Column: How Call Centers Can Support VA Healthcare, by Bronson Tang
The focus of healthcare organization staff is to collect the necessary information and improve patient satisfaction. A call center is an excellent way to handle this.… read more >>

Plan to Make Next Year Your Best Year Yet, by Janet Livingston
Now is the time to plan for your call center’s long-term well-being. Don’t leave this to chance. Begin planning now to make next year your call center’s best year yet.… read more >>

What Does an Optimal Customer Experience with a Call Center Look Like? by Daymon Smith
Healthcare organizations need to incorporate modern marketing technology and comprehensive training into their call center strategies.… read more >>

Ten years ago: Elements of Staffing the Inbound Call Center, by Ellis Smith
The most critical job of a call center manager is having the right number of people on the phone at the right time to maximize call center performance.… read more >>

Industry News:

        

Call4Health      TriageLogic

1Call      Startel

TeamHealth Medical Call Center      Ambs Call Center

AAACN       Citra Health Solutions

Call Center Sales Pro, providing proven healthcare call center solutions      Pulsar360


About AnswerStat
AnswerStat is the information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources, published specifically for hospital and medical contact centers and distributed free to qualified readers, decision makers, and influencers at hospitals and healthcare contact centers worldwide.

For more information, email Peter DeHaan.

Spotlight on the TeamHealth Medical Call Center


TeamHealth Medical Call Center


In today’s world, the rapidly evolving healthcare industry has placed its focus on providing access to high quality, patient-centric care, with an unprecedented emphasis on cost containment and continuum of care. Companies, communities, and medical professionals are challenged with the overwhelming task of balancing quality care with new cost initiatives.

The Need for Call Center Solutions Has Never Been Greater

The TeamHealth Medical Call Center (THMCC) is the premier provider of safe, professional, 24-hour medical call center solutions. THMCC provides its client partners with a wide range of cost-effective healthcare services, including:The TeamHealth Medical Call Center enters into true partnerships with clients to provide the individual service offering, with measurable results, and to develop a long-term relationship. Click To Tweet

RN Telephone Triage

  • Services are branded to each practice with the ability to gather pertinent data and customize a documentation system that allows practices to drive specific directives for both pediatric and adult populations.
  • Another key feature is the ability to integrate patient information into EMRs to meet Patient Centered Medical Home and ACO requirements.
  • THMCC registered nurses use Schmitt/Thompson Clinical Content Triage Guidelines for both pediatric and adult populations.
  • Services also include post-triage appointment scheduling and a wide range of post-discharge transitional care initiatives

Pediatric Triage

Providing high quality pediatric nurse triage requires a special skill set beyond standard care provisions. TeamPeds addresses this need by directing pediatric patients to an RN staff specially trained in pediatric telephone triage. The TeamPeds program includes:

  • Specialized RN pediatric training and competency testing
  • Ongoing required monthly pediatric in-service requirements for RNs
  • Ability to email care advice
  • Error-free provider on call system
  • TeamPeds RN supervisor
  • Pediatric medical director
  • Pediatric QI program

Nurse Advice Lines

Nurse advice lines and community lines can direct your patient population to the most appropriate level of care, while promoting your service’s nurse advice lines can be used to offer branded healthcare and program information that promotes a healthy community and creates an awareness of an organization’s centers of excellence or specialty programs. Reporting and data collection features also provides you with valuable information about the healthcare needs of your population.

Additional benefits of a THMCC community or nurse advice line include:

  • Readmission prevention or appropriate care utilization
  • Patient acquisition
  • Revenue reconciliation reporting
  • Branded EXITcare or customized health information emailed to callers
  • Web-based branded online self-triage program
  • Appointment scheduling and physician referrals

A dedicated ED nurse advice line or triage service helps hospitals respond to calls from patients with inquiries concerning their need for emergency care. THMCC ED nurse advice and triage line services:

  • Provide access for callers questioning their need for an ED visit
  • Promote appropriate ED utilization
  • Prevents unnecessary readmissions
  • Provides opportunity to refer other services within system
  • Eliminates the risk of ED handling clinical questions
  • Allows clinical ED staff to stay focused on in-house patient care
  • Refer all real-time call records on callers to the ED

Transitional Care

In many cases, the provision of care is not complete when the patient visit or hospital stay ends. THMCC partners with healthcare providers to develop relationships with patients that support care plan compliance long after they return home.

Transitional care management means preparing patients for their first visit and then accompanying them through post-visit follow-up and post-hospital care. THMCC’s post-discharge call-back services are fully customizable to the needs of specific patient populations, and include:

  • Outbound daily call campaigns for both clinical and non-clinical populations
  • Specialized scripting utilized for high-risk patients
  • Inpatient and ED patient population
  • EMR access available
  • All calls performed 24-48 hours post-discharge
  • Optional callback line for patients experiencing symptoms

The value of these transitional care efforts can be measured in ROI in the following areas:

  • Readmission prevention
  • Improvement in HCAHPS scores
  • Daily escalations/interventions
  • Monthly reporting including: Core indicator analysis for medications, discharge instructions, and follow-up appointments; positive/negative trending items; recognition; and patient satisfaction

Avoidable readmissions are a major financial problem for the nation’s healthcare system. For patients, hospitalizations alone are stressful, even more so when they result in subsequent readmissions. THMCC’s outbound call campaign services are specifically designed for high-risk patients, and include:

  • Initial post-discharge call within 24-48 hours, with an additional four calls at weekly intervals
  • Assessment of patient’s understanding and compliance to medication, discharge instructions, follow-up appointments, and current symptoms
  • Optional callback line for patients experiencing symptoms

Physician Answering Services

With ever-increasing workloads and patient care responsibilities, physician burnout is a real concern for hospitals, healthcare organizations, and private practices. The stress of a work/life imbalance can lower physician job satisfaction and hinder physician recruitment.

Delegating the workload to a specialized team of medical professionals can significantly reduce physician burnout. We must realize that to take care of our patients, we must also take care of our providers. Partnering with the TeamHealth Medical Call Center and our team of telephone triage RNs can provide the proper work/life balance for your physicians, which in turn, will mean the best possible care for your patients.

THMCC offers physician and practice answering services to provide seamless access for clinical and non-clinical calls. Patient coordinators deliver a high level of customer service and are supervised by an RN. Features include:

  • After hours, daytime support or 24/7 options
  • Emergency backup for unscheduled closures
  • High volume overflow
  • Translation services
  • Branded services
  • Customized scripting
  • Customized directives and protocols
  • Error-free paging system
  • Secure electronic messaging through TeamDoc Mobile, a web-based application
  • All calls are recorded
  • Robust reporting

Creating Successful, Long-Term Client Relationships Is Our Goal

The TeamHealth Medical Call Center enters into true partnerships with clients to provide the individual service offering, with measurable results, and to develop a long-term relationship. Our technology allows us to meet the needs of the changing healthcare industry while we continue to make the patient experience our primary focus.

Founded by a team of physicians more than twenty-two years ago, the THMCC has the unique advantage of having a provider perspective in each aspect of the services we provide. We understand the special bond between physician and patient. Like our clients, we value each caller as an individual who deserves a clinically correct and caring response from our staff to ensure a positive experience, which adds value to their relationship with our clients.

TeamHealth Medical Call CenterWith more than twenty-two years of experience and eleven million triage calls, there is no doubt the TeamHealth Medical Call Center’s medical call center solutions can serve a vital role in your patient care coordination efforts. Call 844-277-6312 or visit us at www.TeamHealthCallCenter.com to learn more.

How Call Centers Can Support VA Healthcare


Pulsar360: strategic partners with the TAS industry


By Bronson Tang

A call center is a team of frontline staff who answer phone calls and gather data. It’s a centralized department that handles a large volume of telephone calls, especially for screening new patients and providing customer service.

In Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare, connecting effectively with service providers through multiple channels of communication is the key toward implementing better patient experiences and minimizing costs. Optimized call center operations can play a crucial role in achieving these goals.

These days, VA Healthcare providers are becoming more patient-centric, raising the demand for call centers. With an increase in expectation to patient retention initiatives, appointment scheduling, and communications with referring medical professionals, health centers must keep pace with new communications technologies. VA Healthcare providers can extend their support to the patients by using call center services. This reduces call volume and results in more effective patient care by staff.

The well-being of the patient depends upon the services they’re receiving. Click To Tweet

Healthcare and the VA

The level of convenience and the service offered to patients is different when VA healthcare providers use call center technology as a part of their practice. Most importantly, patients will always have continuous access.

Hospital management is an important responsibility. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of the complete process. Hospitals need to take care of everything from equipment management to the maintenance of records for the minutest details. In this condition, a medical call center can help a hospital by handling activities such as record maintenance, appointment setting, patient follow-up calls, and appointment reminders. In addition, they can also use email to check with the patients on a regular basis.

Customers satisfaction has always been critical for businesses. This is applicable for VA healthcare providers as well. Providing accurate information to a patient is important since the well-being of the patient depends upon the services they’re receiving. Therefore, automating the complete process can be one of the major requirements hospitals should address. On the other hand, hospitals should also ensure that the personnel employed by a customer service center are familiar with patients’ needs and have the skills and expertise to address different situations.

The call center also brings improved customer satisfaction to employees because they’re able to complete tasks and still provide customer service to Veterans, which is an important goal of employees. They help check Veterans into their appointments, assist them with the self-service kiosk, and make calls to Veterans to remind them of their appointments.

A Focus on Customer Satisfaction

Call centers have improved customer satisfaction with VA Healthcare, where they answer the calls from patients to VA Healthcare professionals and then direct them to whoever needs to call them back. If Veterans are sick and need immediate medical attention, call center staff can help. With the call center answering all incoming calls, VA Healthcare can provide better customer service to Veterans who drop by their primary care teams.

When patients call their doctor’s office, the last thing they want to deal with is a cranky receptionist. Or, just as bad, be stuck on hold. Healthcare call centers can respond quickly to patients, reduce the burden on administrative staff, and help improve the patient experience.

Without constant interruption of phone calls, VA healthcare physicians can focus on the tasks at hand. This means that proper billing coding, prescription refills, diagnostic authorizations, and chart preparation all receive more focus.

Scheduling efficiency also improves. When you have a dedicated call center staff, fewer scheduling mistakes will occur, resulting in less rescheduled or missed appointments. Centralized call center staff also know which doctors are at what locations on any given day. This means that they eliminate the possibility of a patient calling the Middletown office looking for “Dr. Smith” (who only works in Somerset) and hearing the words, “We don’t have a Dr. Smith.”

Call Center Capabilities

Call centers bridge the gap between front and back office by maintaining administrative activity records of patients and prescriptions, which are often inefficient and difficult to manage. Call center services can prioritize and proactively distribute this work anywhere in the organization. It also provides business intelligence so you can improve operational efficiency, meet SLAs, and measure regulatory compliance.

Currently, many medical staff are doing multiple jobs, including answering a variety of patient calls: general questions, upcoming appointments, and benefit coverage. A VA Healthcare call center opens communication within departments by outlining what needs to be collected, establishing a hand-off process, and ensuring accountability.

A healthcare call center helps ensure every patient is set on a positive path. Patients today have options. They can always find another provider. That’s why every phone interaction must be perfect. If patients have an urgent need, they should get an appointment the same day. A quality call center will work with patients to make sure their experiences are positive. Every phone call is important. Companies who fail to train well could deliver bad service, where an agent is rude or lacks the level of sympathy, empathy, or professionalism that patients expect.

For many physicians, the biggest pain point is their daily practice management issues and challenges, such as a lack of staff. They simply don’t have the number of administrative staff to efficiently operate. And on the clinical side, it’s the same. They’re strapped. Healthcare call center support can take a burden off both sides. It is an ideal situation for physicians and their entire practice.

A Focus on Quality

A quality call center helps retain patients. When patients are helped in their time of need, they return. That’s the biggest ROI for any physician or practice.

But again, there’s also help for the administrative and clinical staff. A call center can work with them to ensure that they get the right appointment for each patient. An experienced agent can handle the entire transaction and allow the clinical team more time with their patients. This helps every patient get into the office and lets practitioners engage with patients who will return for care.

Call centers provide proactive engagement and notifications. Proactive customer service in VA Healthcare is a challenging objective for providers and physicians. Despite their personal commitment and the available technology, there are obstacles when trying to move to a proactive health model. Offering customer assistance through multichannel transactions can prevent customers switching to other options. Besides, keeping members informed of the progress so they don’t have to call, improves loyalty and ultimately the bottom-line.

One of the things we do know about healthcare professionals is that they have a difficult time getting through on the phone, which does not facilitate the progress of VA Healthcare.

Summary

The focus of roles within your healthcare organization staff is to collect the necessary information and improve patient satisfaction. A call center is an excellent way to handle this.

Call centers must deal with the continuing challenge of recruiting and training excellent personnel and attempting to increase retention rates. To improve service, management must constantly communicate with both employees and customers in an interactive, multidimensional process. In the global marketplace, improvement of service is not an option—it’s a matter of survival.

Pulsar360: strategic partners with the TAS industryBronson Tang is the marketing manager at Pulsar360, Inc. He has ten years of experience in digital marketing and has worked in the telecommunications sector for four. He is the author of the book, The Tao of Business. Pulsar360, Inc. with origins dating back to 2001, is an established Unified-Communication-as-a-Service (UCaaS) provider with a comprehensive set of offerings it has provided to over 160 medical centric call centers including: cloud based enterprise class call center IP PBX; premise-based IP PBX, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, business continuity disaster recovery solutions, T38 Faxing that meets HIPAA, GLBA and other industry compliance regulations and carrier services.

5 Call Center Improvements Patients Say Would Improve Healthcare Experiences



By Allison Hart

From clinical process enhancements to facility improvements, there are many ways to drive better healthcare experiences for patients. One key area is call center optimization. More than one in three healthcare providers say their organization is updating their contact center or has plans to do so in the near future. Making call center upgrades doesn’t have to be difficult to have an impact. Healthcare teams just need to know what patients want and expect when they call.

Are patients frustrated by having to wait on hold? Are they satisfied with the interactions they have with call center agents? West surveyed 1,036 adults and healthcare providers in the United States to find out and identify ways healthcare organizations can provide better experiences for patients calling contact centers.

Survey responses confirmed that patients want calls resolved quickly and easily with minimal transfers and holds. Many will use self-service features, but they expect live agent availability to answer questions and make recommendations based on their individual medical data and needs.To create a better experience for callers, healthcare teams can make call center improvements that enable them to route calls to the correct place on the first try. Click To Tweet

The following recommendations—which are driven by this survey data—show five call center improvements patients want healthcare organizations to prioritize.

1. Eliminate Extra Steps During Calls

Patients are frustrated by how often their calls are redirected. Callers want to reach a resolution in the fewest possible steps, but they’re often transferred multiple times and asked to restate information to several people during a single call. According to providers, more than one-third (35 percent) of patient calls are redirected at least once.

To create a better experience for callers, healthcare teams can make call center improvements that enable them to route calls to the correct place on the first try. For example, hospitals and health systems can adopt intelligent call routing software with speech recognition features so callers can specify what they need and who they want to speak with. Healthcare organizations can also interconnect their phone systems so calls can be transferred anywhere within their organization. This saves staff from having to ask patients to hang up and dial a different number to reach a different department.

2. Create a Single Point of Contact

Some patients struggle even before they pick up the phone because they don’t know which number to call or who they need to speak with. Dialing the wrong number can lead to confusion and frustration for both patients and staff, as well as making calls last longer than necessary. Nearly three in five of those surveyed (59 percent) say they have trouble understanding which phone number to use to contact their healthcare provider. More troubling is the fact that 28 percent of patients have called their healthcare team and been unable to reach the correct person or department.

Eight in ten Americans (80 percent) want a single person dedicated to their health whom they can call. Hospitals and health systems can give callers a better experience by upgrading to a centralized phone system and routing all calls through one main line. Doing this relieves patients from navigating complex call structures. It gives them one clear point of entry with one phone number they can call to reach anyone within an organization—whether they know who they are looking for or not.

3. Minimize On-Hold Time

Americans don’t like waiting on hold, and many patients feel they do too much of it when they call healthcare organizations. Fifty-three percent of patients report having been put on hold for a long period of time or without a callback option. Providers may be underestimating how much patients are bothered by having to wait and how much time patients spend on hold. Only 29 percent of healthcare providers think patients who call their office are put on hold for an excessive amount of time, confirming a disconnect between what patients and providers deem as an acceptable wait time.

To ensure patients feel their time is valued, healthcare organizations can take steps to reduce the amount of time patients spend on hold. For example, hospitals and health systems can give patients the option of receiving a call back so they spend less time waiting on the phone. This shows providers respect patients’ time, and it lets patients choose whether they want to wait to speak with a healthcare professional.

4. Equip Staff with Patient Medical Information

Patients want to feel known by their healthcare team. They want staff members to have knowledge of their health history and be able to answer questions and make recommendations. Unfortunately, 63 percent of patients say the person they reach when they call their provider doesn’t have access to their medical information and, therefore, can’t provide personalized recommendations. In addition, nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of callers say they haven’t been able to get their questions answered during calls.

To ensure patients get the help they need, healthcare organizations can make sure technology gives staff quick access to patient data. This will help them better support callers with tailored information. And, it will reassure patients that their medical team understands them on an individual basis. Ideally, organizations will have their contact center technology connected to electronic health records, their patient web portal, and other systems that house patient information.

5. Offer Smart Self-Service Opportunities

Patients recognize that sometimes the simplest route to a resolution is through self-service. So, it’s not surprising that nearly six in ten patients (58 percent) say they want healthcare providers to offer self-serve options to complete actions such as paying bills and scheduling appointments. To get the most out of self-service technology, healthcare teams should make sure their system is configured to recognize when inbound calls are coming from phone numbers that have recently been sent automated outreach messages.

For example, if a patient receives an automated message from a provider inviting him to schedule a preventive service or screening and the patient calls into the organization, the system should recognize the number and predict the caller’s intention. In this case, the system would ask the patient if he is calling to schedule an appointment and then walk him through the self-service scheduling process. By utilizing smart technology and giving patients opportunities to resolve calls on their own, organizations can give callers better experiences.

Conclusion

Healthcare organizations put a lot of time and resources into designing top-notch patient experiences. It makes sense to have call center optimization be part of those efforts. By following these suggestions, healthcare teams can deliver on expectations and create better experiences for callers.

Allison Hart is an advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. She leads thought leadership efforts for West’s TeleVox Solutions, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans, and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Hart currently serves as vice president of marketing at West, where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

1Call’s 2018 Leadership and Training Seminar Report

1Call Seminar Draws Healthcare IT and Communication Professionals from Across the United States

The 1Call Division of Amtelco completed their most successful 1Call Leadership and Training Seminar to date. On September 18-20, 2018, healthcare customers, prospects, and Amtelco staff, gathered at the Park Hotel in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, to help clinics and hospital organizations enhance their enterprise-wide communications.

Customer attendees, representing hospitals from all over the United States, enjoyed presentations given by healthcare call centers who use 1Call’s products such as Genesis, MergeComm, and miSecureMessages. These customer-led presentations proved beneficial to the healthcare communication and IT professionals in attendance.

Attendees learned how to improve efficiencies, eliminate errors, and enhance the patient experience from peer presentations. They also could speak directly to 1Call’s software development and implementation specialists to discuss how to solve some of their interoperability and communication challenges.

“I am new to this conference and found it extremely helpful,” said one enthused attendee. “The networking is also great! I’m so impressed by Amtelco and how helpful the staff has been. Getting to know the Amtelco family, culture, and values have made me even more confident that we made the right system selection and vendor choice. Thank you for a wonderful experience.”

1Call, a division of AmtelcoNext year’s 1Call Leadership and Training Seminar will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 10-12, 2019 at the Park Hotel. For more information contact 1Call at 800-225-6035 or seminars@1call.com.

Call Center Lessons from a Walk-In Healthcare Clinic



We Need to Be Ready to Learn Whatever We Can, Wherever We Can

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStatLast week I went to a walk-in healthcare clinic to deal with an itchy skin affliction that was driving me crazy. (It turns out it was poison ivy or some variation thereof.) Not only did I get fast attention and quick results, but I had a wholly enjoyable experience. I walked away from the clinic as a happy patient, but I usually don’t have that reaction after interacting with a call center.

Here are some thoughts as to what makes a difference.Too often, call center personnel view each caller as a problem to handle as fast as possible and not as a person who needs their help. Click To Tweet

Accessible Service

The brightly-lit clinic was easy to find and offered nearby parking. The relaxing atmosphere gave me assurance I could anticipate a successful outcome.

Too often call centers aren’t accessible. It seems they hide their numbers. Why is this? Don’t they want calls? And by the time I do talk to someone, I’m often doubtful if I’ll be able to accomplish my objective.

Easy to Use

When I walked in, a self-check-in kiosk greeted me (along with a medical assistant, who was checking in another patient). I entered my name, punched a couple buttons, and was ready for step two.

Contrast this to a call center, with its endless array of auto-attendant prompts that seldom fit the reason for my call. And if I pick wrong, the best solution is to hang up and call back. Though call centers should be easy to use, reality may be different.

Known Timeframe

At the healthcare clinic I immediately knew where I was in the queue. One person was being checked as another waited. Beside this visual indicator, the kiosk provided an expected wait time of 28 to 56 minutes. Anticipating this, I had my iPod to keep me company. But before I even plugged in my earbuds, the first patient was ushered into the examination room, and the man ahead of me was being checked in. In a few minutes he went on to exam room two. I was next in line, and it hadn’t even been five minutes.

I always appreciate call centers that tell me where I am in the queue and give me updates as things progress.

Provide Options

I learned I could have checked myself in online. This would have guaranteed my place in queue at the clinic. Then they would have texted me as my appointment slot neared.

This is much like call centers offering a call back option. It’s nice to have alternatives. Why don’t more call centers offer this?

Exceptional Staff

The most impressive thing was great staff. The medical assistant at the healthcare clinic was both professional and personable. Within seconds she had me checked in. A few minutes later she moved me to exam room one, when the first patient left. A positive experience continued with the physician’s assistant. She treated me as a person and not as a problem to solve. She was patient, thorough, and precise in her diagnosis and recommendation. I’m actually looking forward (kind of) to my next visit.

Too often, with the ongoing onslaught of calls, call center personnel view each caller as a problem to handle as fast as possible and not as a person who needs their help. Making this distinction is key in the overall customer experience.

Successful Results

Less than twenty minutes after I arrived at the healthcare clinic, I left with a credible diagnosis and a prescription to pick up at the pharmacy, which was less than one hundred feet away. This was the outcome I sought.

How often have I hung up with a call center, having fallen short of my goal? Sadly, the answer is too often. I may call back for a different rep, phone someplace else, or just give up.

Skilled Close

Before I left to pick up my prescription, I chatted again with the medical assistant. Though I didn’t need to see her afterward, she had more information for me. When she learned I didn’t have a primary care physician, she encouraged me to get one and offered to help. I shared my past frustration at not being able to find someone close by. She took this as a challenge. When I left, she handed me a slip of paper listing four nearby doctors who were accepting new patients. It’s too soon to know if she made a successful upsell, but she did an excellent job at doing everything she could to help me. I left with a positive feeling.

When done appropriately an upsell by a call center agent is both helpful and appreciated. But when done poorly, it’s an irritant and another reason not to call back. Be sure to end each call well.

The Next Step

How can you apply these observations of a healthcare clinic to make your medical contact center a shining example of success that your callers and patients appreciate?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

What Does an Optimal Customer Experience with a Call Center Look Like?



By Daymon Smith

 As the healthcare landscape shifts toward a value-based care model, consumers and patients are taking more responsibility for their individual health. The combination of higher premiums, copays, and deductibles mean consumers hold the care they receive to a higher standard. They research competitive pricing, treatment quality, and customer service to make informed decisions.

This shift in focus within the healthcare sector has increased the importance of offering consumers and patients value that goes beyond quality care and treatment options. More specifically, healthcare marketers prioritize personalized engagement on an individual level. They match consumers with the resources, providers, and treatment options that offer the best overall health outcomes and highest customer experience.

In this effort, hospitals and organizations have started to optimize the role call centers play, adopting a variety of capabilities to merge disparate points of contact into one centralized, proactive call center. Also known as an engagement center, these modernized call centers, which work in conjunction with health care risk management (HCRM), enable healthcare providers to deliver the level of customer experience and personalization consumers expect.

The ideal customer experience that a consumer should receive when engaging with a call center is key. Healthcare providers should strive to deliver this level of customer service through technology and training.

Customer Service Expectations in Healthcare

Today’s consumer expects quality customer service across their health journey, from first point of contact to post-care engagement. Often the first point of communication between a customer and the healthcare organization, call centers are faced with the responsibility of living up to the expectations of modern healthcare consumers. In fact, they handle around 68 percent of all customer communications, further emphasizing why consumers hold the call center customer service they receive to a higher standard.

Consumers expect:

Personalized service: When patients and consumers interact with the healthcare call center, they expect insights, resources, and interactions personalized to their unique health journey. Therefore, call center agents must understand each patient’s issues and provide solutions proactively.

Single call resolutionIt’s crucial call center agents tap caller data to provide actionable and individualized recommendations, connect them with doctors and physicians, provide useful and relevant resources, and proactively anticipate consumer needs.

Cross-channel capabilities: Traditional call center operations are siloed, resulting in a fragmented customer experience. With an HCRM-enabled engagement center, health systems deliver the seamless and personalized experiences customers want across communication channels, including the call center, patient portal, and email.

Agents move callers forward along the patient journey: Quality customer service within the healthcare sector extends far beyond one phone call. Patients expect guidance and assistance from healthcare organizations throughout their care experience. This includes communication, connecting the consumer with necessary resources and solutions, and ensuring the experience is as convenient as possible.

Here’s an example: At the start of the patient journey, a consumer submits a website form submission requesting information on shoulder pain. After receiving the requested information in an email, the customer is placed in an outbound calling queue for follow-up.

The call center agent provides additional information and offers to connect the customer with a specialist. The call center agent connects them with an orthopedic physician near their home and sends timely reminders before the appointments.

During the appointment the physician recommends physical therapy. The patient receives a call the same day from the call center to match them with a physical therapist and schedule their first appointment. The patient receives an SMS reminder forty-eight hours before the appointment.

Each interaction with the organization is recorded in the healthcare CRM to ensure continuity and enable personalization throughout the patient journey.

Technology for Optimized Healthcare Customer Service

The customer service consumers expect from healthcare organizations forces call centers to evolve into comprehensive engagement centers. With the goal of serving as a strategic tool for engagement, revenue growth, and greater visibility into return on investment, these call centers combine technology with call center agent training for optimized customer service.

For call centers looking to shift toward becoming an engagement center, a healthcare CRM program can serve as the foundation for successful engagement. With an HCRM in place, call centers can provide consistent, unified communications with patients and consumers while connecting disparate points of contact throughout the health system. Additionally, an HCRM provides call center agents with a 360-degree view into the customer data needed to facilitate personalized, efficient consumer interactions.

More specifically, call center agents can take advantage of unique customer profiles—a collection of demographic data, prior interactions with the organization, contact preferences, and appointments and medical history—to ensure they’re utilizing the best method of communication (phone, email, or chat) and delivering relevant health information.

An engagement center should also incorporate marketing automation to send reminders and resources throughout the patient journey. Marketing automation tools help call centers maintain long-term engagement to promotes patient acquisition and strengthens patient retention.Healthcare organizations need to incorporate modern marketing technology and comprehensive into their strategies Click To Tweet

Call Center Training for Optimized Customer Service

Like any job, the better the training—the greater the impact. For healthcare call center agents, training is a significant facilitator to outstanding patient and customer service. One of the most important aspects of call center training revolves around the proper use of call center scripts.

By developing scripts to guide agent conversations, healthcare organizations ensure the call center customer experience aligns with marketing efforts. Additionally, scripts can help call center agents focus on guiding customers toward a pleasant and timely resolution of their queries.

As a good practice, call centers should equip agents with at least one script for each campaign that can be tailored to the individual customer while reflecting their location within the patient journey.

Another important element to call center training is ensuring agents can handle any non-clinical queries. Given the high volume of customer interactions call center agents handle each day, it’s crucial they have a clear understanding of the healthcare organization ecosystem, as well as the capability to handle queries on the fly.

Final Thoughts

Consumers today expect more value from their care providers. Optimizing the traditional healthcare call center into a modern engagement center helps provide the efficiency, personalization, and capabilities that have become synonymous with superior customer service.

To best leverage the potential of call centers and optimize the customer experience within them, healthcare organizations need to incorporate modern marketing technology and comprehensive training into their strategies.

Daymon Smith is the vice president, engagement center practice leader at Evariant. He focuses on leading health systems in their move to a proactive call center model that improves the overall patient experience and generates revenue for the system.

The August/September 2018 Issue of AnswerStat

Read the August issue of AnswerStat, the information hub for healthcare contact centers.



Feature Content:

August 2018-Peer ReviewUtilizing Peer Review to Minimize Risk in a Medical Call Center, by Mark Dwyer
Following a nurse peer review process enables the medical call center to minimize its overall risk…. read more >>

Vital Signs: A Brand is Only as Good as the Company and Staff Behind It, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Though rebranding offers excitement and commands attention, don’t pursue it until you’ve addressed the service behind your brand and the staff who provide it.… read more >>

Vendor Spotlight on Pulsar360
Pulsar360, Inc. is one of the oldest VoIP service companies in the United States and Canada and an early proponent of cloud technology for the communications industry.… read more >>

Guest Column: Why Hackers Target Your Medical Records Instead of Your Credit Cards, by Nicole Limpert
Cyber criminals increasingly target electronic protected health information (ePHI) because hackers can get a premium price for this personal information on the dark web.… read more >>

Four Steps to Minimize Risk in a Healthcare Call Center, by Janet Livingston
Follow these four tips to help ensure your operation functions as it should and provides the high-quality service callers expect.… read more >>

Three Tactics for Transforming a Call Center into a Care Center, by Gina Tabone
We need to develop training that helps call center caregivers convey interest, concern, and competency to callers. Here are three suggestions to begin the transformation of a call center team.… read more >>

Seven Tips to Minimize Risk and Improve the Patient Experience, by Bronson Tang
The medical call center is a crucial component within healthcare to improve the patient experience, while minimizing risks…. read more >>

Ten years ago: Using IVR to Improve Post-Discharge Patient Care, by Gary Hannah
An array of IVR options exist with a range of prices. A healthy, due diligence process will help to find the right solution for every environment and telephone triage model.… read more >>

Industry News:

        

Call4Health      TriageLogic

1Call      Startel

TeamHealth Medical Call Center      Ambs Call Center

AAACN       Citra Health Solutions

Call Center Sales Pro, providing proven healthcare call center solutions      Pulsar360


About AnswerStat
AnswerStat is the information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources, published specifically for hospital and medical contact centers and distributed free to qualified readers, decision makers, and influencers at hospitals and healthcare contact centers worldwide.

For more information, email Peter DeHaan.

Rebranding a Medical Call Center



A Brand is Only as Good as the Company and Staff Behind It

 By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStatA company I do business with just announced a name change. They’re rebranding themselves. Their new name is supposed to better align with their core values, culture, and corporate vision. It’s also intended to dispel some confusion associated with their current name.

I get all that. And I think it’s a mistake. They’re going to lose a lot of momentum and confuse people in the process.

While it’s fun to dream, plan, and think grand thoughts about a new name, it’s more important to serve customers with excellence and provide value for the money they spend with you. Although a brand can help accomplish those things, it can also serve as a distraction.

If you’re thinking about rebranding your call center, here are some things to consider.

What’s in a Name?

Rebranding a Medical Call CenterOne big issue in rebranding is the industry label of call center. Maybe those words are part of your name or at least implied by it. But likely they appear on your website and are part of your promotional materials. Yet the phrase call center carries negative connotations and bad memories for some people. As a result, some call centers think they need to distance themselves from that label. Contact center is often suggested as a replacement. Some other quickly-conceived names include customer service facility, customer exchange center, or customer experience gateway.

Other concerns about a name include finding one that better describes what you do now or doesn’t limit you in the future. But will changing your name really accomplish anything?

What’s Behind the Name?

Let’s say you stop referring to yourself as a call center and switch to contact center. After all, you take more than calls, you handle contacts. But what will this affect? If you continue offering the same types of service, with the same degree of quality, and with the same staff, nothing has changed. Not really.

The reason the label call center holds negative connotations for much of the public is because of the frustrating experiences they’ve had when they interacted with call centers. If you start calling yourself a contact center—or make any other name change—you run the risk of transferring people’s negative image of your existing brand to your new brand. Before long you’ll need to move away from your new brand for the same reasons.

Instead of looking to rebrand your call center, you might be better off looking to improve the operation behind your brand.Focus on staff, their environment, and the quality of their work before embarking on any rebranding efforts. Click To Tweet

Do Staff Respect and Support Your Name?

Too often I’ve talked with employees in various industries who’ve disrespected their company. They’ve said negative things about their bosses, their resources and tools, and their compensation. After listening to their rant, I don’t want to do business with that company any more. No amount of rebranding will ever fix that.

Instead of rebranding your call center, maybe it’s best to start with your agents. Are they proud of the work they do and the company they work for? Are they adequately paid? (If you say “yes” and they say “no,” do some research to find out who’s right. Adjust as needed.)

Maybe you need to fix deficiencies in your management structure or operational processes. Perhaps you need to improve agent training, raise expectations, and hold staff accountable for the results. Alternately, you may need to hire a different caliber employee.

The point is to focus on staff, their environment, and the quality of their work before embarking on any rebranding efforts. If you don’t, rebranding will fail to meet expectations, and in a few years you’ll be doing it all over again.

Conclusion

Though rebranding offers excitement and commands attention, don’t pursue it until you’ve addressed the service behind your brand and the staff that provides it.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.