How Your Patient Call Center Can Become Your Organization’s Superpower
In 2019, a terminally ill man learned he had only a matter of days left to live. This life-altering news delivered to him not by his physician, but by a robot. This news may make many in the healthcare field question the role of automation in patient care: Where will we draw the line regarding automation on behalf of our patients? In the race for digitization and automation, are we ready to sacrifice human empathy and personalized care?
There is a massive upside to automation in healthcare, but it must be done thoughtfully, in ways that help serve patients better. A good patient experience builds trust and a lasting relationship – but a lousy patient experience could create negative results for the patient and damage your practice’s reputation.
Healthcare Automation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Many aspects of healthcare have been enhanced by automation, such as the calculation of millions of medical data sets so doctors can make more informed decisions. However, when it comes to patient interaction, can automation alone provide the personalized care most patients today expect? The answer is no.
Yet patient phone calls were one of the first aspects of healthcare to be automated. It’s so familiar we may not even recognize it as such. In the effort to increase efficiency, patient call centers became frustrating gauntlets that caused patients to feel deprioritized.
Medical answering services, which are mostly staffed by humans, may as well be handled by robots. Many of these processes are essentially automated: collect a patient’s name, a description of the symptom(s), and his or her call back number. Click. Now, wait for the call (and be sure your staff inputs those call logs the next day…)
Digital phone assistants are the most egregious “productivity enhancement.” They do little to strengthen the practice’s connection to the patient, and in many ways, undermine care personalization.
Where is human empathy in all of this?
In the competitive landscape of healthcare, abandon the personal connection at your own risk. Medical practices and health systems can’t afford NOT to engage with patients on a human level.
Automation May be Inevitable… but Humans Will Always Seek Humans
Customers – including patients – still prefer to talk with actual humans. No matter which online portal or texting options are available, patients will always view healthcare as deeply personal. Human interaction must be an option for patients during every step of the relationship.
Your patient call center has the potential to become your personalization secret weapon. In addition to improving the patient experience, offering patients 24/7 direct access to a live human is good for your bottom line:
According to a Gallup Workplace study published in January 2019, “Every and any human-to-human interaction with a customer is a chance to form a meaningful connection that drives loyalty and profitability.”
Algorithms Should Enhance, Not Replace, Patient Interaction
Human interaction and automation can work in harmony when automation is used as a human super-power, meaning, the right technology should help humans do their jobs better, faster, and more efficiently. Arbitrarily replacing qualified care associates with automated tools works against the very thing you’re trying to accomplish: a stronger “care of one” experience.
Here’s what a concierge-style patient call center should look like when it satisfies the need for human interaction AND uses automation as a super-power:
- Never under-staffed = All calls are answered quickly, by live people
This requires two superpowers – training and onboarding staff faster as well as location-neutrality. At LYP Contact Center, we train our friendly care associates to follow the exact protocols in use by the client’s in-house staff. Additional training for specialty practice-specific workflows enable care associates to provide even more personalized, attentive service to callers. Patients can’t detect a difference when your associates or ours answer the call, so staffing the phones is never an issue.
- Is safeguarded = Compliance is never in question
Protecting sensitive healthcare data is not optional – it’s a must. Any vulnerabilities in your patient call center can expose your organization to potentially devastating consequences. This is why it’s so crucial to work with patient care associates who understand healthcare’s unique privacy and communication requirements. Because LYP Contact Center associates work exclusively in healthcare, they are already comfortable handling protected health information (PHI) and abiding by all HIPAA regulations. The ability of your contact center to meet compliance regulations contact center will never be in question.
When you prioritize the patient’s needs, the path to automation and digitization becomes a lot clearer. Automation doesn’t have to mean the industry de-personalizes healthcare. On the contrary: as healthcare leaders, your great challenge is to strike the proper balance between automation and human interaction.
Scale your patient contact center quickly and efficiently by partnering with LYP Contact Center to support inbound and outbound communications. Drop us a line and we’ll show you how.
We’re here to help you help your patients.
Learn how professional call center support shows your patients how much you care.