The Healthcare Contact Center: Efficiency Hacks, Best Practices, & an eBook

Healthcare contact center IVAs can take away 30 seconds from every customer conversation and reduce demand by 50+ percent. Here’s how.

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The Healthcare Contact Center Efficiency Hacks, Best Practices, & an eBook - CX Today News
Contact CentreInsights

Published: July 3, 2024

Charlie Mitchell

Evolving contact center operations is not easy, especially in healthcare.  

With fragmented data, complex backend integrations, and strict compliance regulations, there’s a lot to consider.  

Yet, as service leaders mull this over, staying on top of customer and patient contact volumes is proving tricky.  

Indeed, last year, 16 US states received warnings from federal Medicaid officials over long wait times, which resulted in high abandon rates.  

In each state, the average wait time exceeded 25 minutes, and hang-up rates reached 29 percent.  

Thankfully, new Five9 research – which unpacks data from verified healthcare companies – has uncovered tried-and-tested efficiency hacks for such contact centers to follow.  

Here are two excellent examples stripped from the study.  

1. Take the First 30 Seconds from Every Call for Human Care Navigators

Every call that enters a healthcare contact center requires user authentication to maintain HIPAA compliance (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  

While regulations are similar in other sectors, like financial services, authentication processes are typically even more grueling in healthcare. Why? Because there are often many people with the same name. Also, people often call on behalf of other family members.  

Thankfully, AI and automation can streamline those processes. As Roni Jamesmeyer, Sr. Healthcare Product Marketing Manager at Five9, stated: 

“On every single call, it takes 30 seconds to validate who you are with two or three pieces of information like a zip code, the last four digits of your social security number, date of birth, or whatever the primary care GP uses. Simplifying and automating these steps can save a lot of time.”

Contact centers can achieve this with a task-specific bot on the front-end of the IVR and digital channels. There, the bot can authenticate callers, understand their intent, and pass them through to the best-skilled representative, along with additional patient context.  

That live agent – or human care navigator – may then dive into the crux of each conversation, cutting down handling times, reducing costs, and enhancing agent engagement.   

2. Automate These Two Queries & Reduce Contact Volumes by 50+ percent

There are two core reasons that make up the bulk of all phone calls into a health system: managing appointments and getting prescriptions. Together, these typically comprise 50-70 percent of all voice interactions – according to the Five9 research. 

Thankfully, simplifying these workflows is often straightforward via self-service mechanisms.  

Of course, not all patient intents are easy to automate, but mechanizing queries related to these two core contact drivers – such as appointment confirmations, reschedules, and cancelations – can be.  

Moreover, removing these more common calls from the contact mix lowers agent workloads and avoids the inevitable voicemail, which just requires double the work on the back-end to listen and respond. That’s time that staff simply doesn’t have – especially as brands factor in the time lag to return voicemail (likely hours later) and live agents have a frustrated patient to deal with, too. 

After making this point, Jamesmeyer stated: “Healthcare is still in the basic stages of simplifying and offloading redundant calls.  

“Many calls are simple FAQs like office hours, holiday schedules, location address, or parking information – and IVRs do a lot of this today. But, it requires listening to a phone tree list of options, and vulnerable patients must remember what numbers they need to press.

“Additionally, as every caller takes up a phone line to use the IVR tree menu, there is one less available phone line available for a potentially more urgent call.  

“Offloading these common questions allows nursing staff and skilled professionals to handle the more complex issues.” 

Also, by analyzing patient call intents, healthcare organizations can spot even more opportunities to automate transactional queries, which streamlines operations, and boost efficiency.  

Indeed, one cancer screening company within the Five9 study saved $1MN from simply offloading redundant questions about test kit shipping and 24/7 delivery.  

That example emphasized how opportunities to enhance the digital front door are abundant in the healthcare contact center!  

More Best Practices for the Healthcare Contact Center

While the two efficiency hacks above may afford healthcare contact centers some breathing room, there is a lot more they can do with that.  

One idea gaining momentum is developing integrated care communications systems, in which contact centers inside local health providers act as an orchestration hub between the other tech partners to collectively design a more streamlined communications journey.   

These journeys allow healthcare contact centers to meet patients on their channel of choice and then blend various modalities and AI to best fit their intent. That is the future.  

Moreover, as the Boomer generation ages, and the number of healthcare providers shrink, healthcare companies must start to consider such approaches to delivering care differently.  

Yet, it’s only one idea, as Jamesmeyer, who works with many healthcare leaders on their workflows, noted. In doing so, she recomened that healthcare contact centers: 

“Start with the end in mind and create a five-year plan that considers automation use cases to address administrative burdens.”

The Five9 e-guide gives more guidance on what that five-year plan should entail.  

An eBook for the Healthcare Contact Center of Tomorrow

From small clinics to large health systems from payers to third parties, and from pharmacies to MedTech companies, there are many “types” of healthcare contact centers. 

The “How AI Drives Value in Healthcare Communication” eBook contains advice from all, offering insightful texts and real ROI metrics to showcase the value of automation.  

Solution briefs tailored to both providers and payers are also available HERE. 

In addition, Five9 has an upcoming webinar with a current healthcare customer scheduled for Thursday, September 19, 2024, discussing their use case journey into automation to help them.  

To register for this webinar, follow the link: Exact Sciences Moves to the Cloud and Acheves 45% Containment Rate with Five9 

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