Q&A: Top 5 Questions about Centralizing Call Center Operations
The reality is patients want to speak with a person, not leave a message on a machine or have their questions left unanswered. However, healthcare organizations have several responsibilities to juggle that make it difficult to balance taking patient calls with attending to patients in the office. Having additional office capacity and resources for answering patient communications is the primary reason an organization considers centralizing their healthcare call center operations.
First, let’s establish the scope of a truly centralized call center operation. In a centralized medical call center, an experienced, highly-trained team of call associates will answer all incoming calls, manage all aspects of appointment scheduling, address patient or caller questions, and make outbound calls as needed, all as an extension of your front desk staff.
As a result, patients should receive a seamless experience and immediate care for whatever their situation may entail. The service is straight-forward, but healthcare is a complicated industry and with HIPAA, PHI, and other concerns, the idea of a call center sounds risky. Workflows are generally complex and the nuances of every situation seem too complicated to outsource.
Some organizations choose to build their own internal centralized call operation, while others opt to outsource to a healthcare call center. The following questions are framed around evaluating the right partner, but the ideas help inform either scenario.
How Can We Be Sure Patients Will Receive the Same Quality of Care Our Office Provides?
The two aspects that tie most closely are the talent and documented workflows. Start with the right people. The best healthcare call center associates are trained to provide exceptional service while covering a wide range of scenarios and being prepared for unexpected situations. It’s important to hire the right talent. People with a background in customer service bring the right mindset with experience helping people find solutions.
Be clear on what you expect call associates to do. The quality of the care your organization provides should be built into the workflows you have established with your existing office staff. The ability to transfer this knowledge and train associates to provide the same quality of service is dependent on how well documented your workflows and processes are. There are call center software platforms that can automate workflows, ensuring healthcare call center associates follow your protocols, ensuring the quality of care to your patients and the quality of service they provide your practice.
Look for a healthcare call center partner that can automate your workflows with built-in metrics, analytics, and call recordings. This ensures the ability to track quality of care and quality of service. If your workflows are currently well-documented, look for a partner that offers consulting in that area. It’s hard to hold someone accountable to following a process if it is not well-documented and explained.
Will Call Associates Just Be Routing Calls Back to Our Office?
No. The goal of centralizing your call center operations is not to be an answering service or to provide purely transactional support. Healthcare call center associates are trained to engage with the caller or patient and handle various scenarios the same way your front desk staff would, with the same sense of both calm and urgency every time.
By allowing the call center access to provider schedules and resources, associates are equipped with the tools and information needed to fully assist patients without having to transfer calls to your office unless it’s an emergency.
Creating seamless workflows between the call center and your office brings full visibility to all patient communications. Your front desk has more capacity to focus on the patients who are in the office and be fully present.
Streamline documentation by partnering with a call center service provider with the ability to seamlessly interface with your EMR system to ensure all patient notes are documented and scheduling flows in and out of a single source of data truth.
What About My Existing Front Desk Staff?
For many practices, centralizing call center operations means potentially saying goodbye to loyal, longtime employees that are both trusted and loved around your office. Once patient communications are moved to a centralized model, you typically need fewer staff to manage the onsite care of patients.
There are a couple of options here. First, consider how you can support reskilling your team members. Working with your HR organization, consider how to help the affected people transition. There are also some healthcare call center partners, including LYP Contact Center, that will hire your existing staff.
Are We Allowed to Provide Feedback About our Call Center Operations?
Providing feedback is one of the most important parts of working with a healthcare call center. A superior partner will welcome feedback from your staff in regards to the performance and satisfaction providing phone support, and it will also have built-in offerings to ensure feedback channels from patients.
Clear performance metrics or KPIs should be outlined at the start of the engagement with your contact center partner. Your staff’s feedback should be collected and shared regularly. Ask potential partners about their offerings for tools that help collect feedback both from staff and from patients.
Having a single point of contact, like an account manager, helps in monitoring how feedback is shared and implemented. Premium providers will offer workflow consulting to systemically address feedback where possible while optimizing efficiencies.
What Kind of Metrics Can We Expect to See?
One of the greatest values of centralizing your call center operations is having visibility into metrics on a regular basis. Most call center platforms offer similar reporting features including call statistics (volume, hold time, handle time), appointment conversions, new patient scheduling, and data that show the ease of reaching a provider. When first transitioning to a centralized model, it’s important to build in capabilities to measure what matters most to your organization.
Different parts of your organization probably want to measure unique aspects. Research the capabilities for a good call center software platform and choose one with the ability to measure what is important to your business goals. Platforms such as PatientSync can be set up to measure new patient allocation, patient booking trends by provider, geography, time of year or time of day, and more. Details like these can bring new insight to why and how patients engage with your practice or provider group.
The big deal about centralizing your call center operations is it allows you to delegate front desk responsibilities, scale your business, and improve the patient experience. At LYP, we are familiar with the day-to-day tasks and interruptions that occur, which leave you less time and energy to focus on patient care in person. As an extension of your organization, we want to create the best solution for you.
We can help you manage patient calls. Chat with our team today to learn more.
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