Optimizing your Healthcare Contact Center for Omnichannel Patient Access

In today’s competitive healthcare environment, it is incumbent on all providers to ensure patients can access the care they need in a convenient, consistent, and streamlined manner.
Meet Jane… …Jane is a 25 year old accountant who just moved to a new city to start a new and exciting job. One of the first things Jane does when she gets settled in her new job is to find a healthcare provider in her local area so she can make an appointment for a check-up. After a quick search, she finds one that looks suitable for her needs. But, it turns out that their call center hours of operation are 8am to 5pm; right in the middle of her busy working day. Like most millennials[1], Jane turns to the provider website with the hope she can schedule an appointment online. Unfortunately, as Jane attempts to schedule her appointment she meets a roadblock: she is advised she needs to register as a new patient first, and this can only be done via phone call. A few days later, when she finally gets a break from work, she makes a call to the health system. However, when she calls, she is met with a long and complicated phone tree. Between the long and complicated phone tree and waiting to speak to an agent, she was waiting for seven minutes before eventually she spoke to a human. When the call is eventually answered, she begins giving her information, only to have the caregiver inform her that she is through to the wrong phoneline and is transferred somewhere else. She eventually speaks to a caregiver and is extremely frustrated as she has to repeat all the information again. Eventually, Jane gives up, frustrated, and resolves to find a different provider. Poor Patient Experience Jane’s story is not uncommon. Far too often, healthcare providers have complex and inefficient systems of patient access, caused by a lack of vision for the healthcare contact center. This can result in poor patient experience and ultimately patient leakage. In today’s competitive healthcare environment, it is incumbent on all providers to ensure patients can access the care they need in a convenient, consistent, and streamlined manner. This applies whether the patient is trying to schedule an appointment, seek triage services, or merely ask for directions. Patients as consumers This emphasis on the patient experience is part of the overall shift in healthcare where the patient is seen as a consumer and requires the same customer service that is expected in any other industry, from banking to air travel. Patients are aware of the wide range of healthcare options available to them, particularly in densely populated urban areas.
This has direct implications for the healthcare contact center. The contact center is like the front door of the organization. Its where patients first go to communicate and connect with their provider. It is where their first impressions are often made. This can be for good and for bad. Given this shift to consumerism, it is essential that contact centers offer an omnichannel experience. What is an Omnichannel Contact Center? Omnichannel contact centers are those that allow patients to interact and connect with their provider through multiple channels: webchat, telephone, SMS, email, etc. It is not just a case of giving patients a choice of which they prefer. It’s about creating a system where it doesn’t matter which channel a patient chooses, or whether they switch between channels in the same customer journey: the patient should always have the same kind of experience, with the same brand, covering the same information, regardless of which channel they use at any time. This is accomplished by the flow and integration of data between different channels. If someone, like Jane, engages with a provider online, her data should be captured and then integrated into the system so that wherever the patient engages again – whether through text message or phone call – that previous information, where appropriate, is readily available. All of this must, of course, be done while acknowledging HIPPA requirements. Patient populations are made up all ages and demographics, and so they interact across a range of communication preferences. According to the Advisory Board consumer survey, older patients (65+), for example, are most resistant to virtual care delivery with only 20% willing to choose a virtual visit if it is cheaper than in person, compared to 47% of those between 30-49. And so the healthcare contact center must ensure that all those channels are creating the same experience and representing the same brand, while also making sure that patients are cared for in a professional and timely manner. This is not to say that the real-time, human interaction of a contact center agent is somehow lessened in favor of automated or text-based conversation. The necessity for the high-touch human interaction remains. Yet, relying solely on this kind of human to human contact is costly and inefficient. Today technologies can support a wider range of interactions with patients and contact centers need to embrace these, both to keep operating costs under control, but also to deliver better patient outcomes and better patient satisfaction. How RelateCare can help RelateCare can help guide organizations transition toward an omnichannel patient access solution. We offer a suite of services that help support you from vendor and platform selection through implementation and operationalization. Do you want to go with a cloud solution or an on-premise solution?  Which communication paths will provide the greatest benefit to your diverse patient population?  Which projects and deployments should be prioritized? We often see organizations place large investments in technological systems that are capable of omnichannel solutions, but the organizations lack the know-how to properly leverage those systems. RelateCare’s experienced advisors can help you pick the right system and use it in the right way. RelateCare’s Technology Consulting Services include:
  • Infrastructure Maturity and Gap Analysis of existing technologies
  • Business Case generation and support of technology vendor selection processes
  • Technical project management to guide implementation of new technological systems, or to optimize existing systems
  • Executive oversight as part of any steering committee efforts: leadership buy-in is essential to such a project
  • Coordination and training of support staff and operational staff to best leverage technological solutions
  • Return on Investment and Key Performance Indicator measurement and tracking

Jordan Reinhardt is RelateCare’s Director of Information Services. For over 12 years, Jordan served various sales and support roles for unified communications and contact center solutions as a Systems Engineer, Solutions Architect, and Technical Manager for leading technology manufacturers and vendors, such as Avaya. In addition to deployment, Jordan developed and delivered training programs and user group presentations throughout the Americas, from Toronto to Buenos. Jordan’s role includes leading Technology consultancy engagements while also optimizing RelateCare’s own investment in the Avaya suite and it’s features.

[1] 72% of patient would like to be able to schedule online DOCASP report