Healthcare Call Center Best Practices


December 21, 2022

Written by

Merlene Leano

Call centers are becoming an increasingly important tool for businesses and organizations in a wide range of industries, as they enable these entities to guarantee that they will maintain strong connections with their customers, whether those connections are maintained in person or digitally.

This statement could not be more accurate for the healthcare industry. Call centers are the frontlines for healthcare providers when it comes to ensuring that clients receive the service they require and expect and have a positive experience when calling their office or clinic hotlines. In other words, call centers are responsible for ensuring that clients have a satisfactory experience when calling their offices or clinic hotlines. When seen from this perspective, it is permissible to assert that employees working in call centers make a substantial contribution to the integrity of the organization. Based on how they interact with each and every customer, customer service representatives have the power to make or break the reputation of a healthcare provider.

And, when talking about contact centers in healthcare providers, it is worth noting that callers are not only customers but patients that require immediate and accurate healthcare assistance. They also need steady guidance when it comes to checking their health as well as resolving any concerns about billing and admission. Not to mention that call centers for healthcare may be involved in life-or-death situations in some cases. Therefore, it is extremely vital that you have an effective set of strategies to amp up your healthcare contact center approaches.

If you have no idea how to start, then this blog will come in handy. Here, we’ve narrowed down a list of various call center best practices in healthcare. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Healthcare Call Center Best Practices

The following is a list of tried-and-true practices that call centers for healthcare providers can implement in order to guarantee that they are able to provide patients with the kind of experience that patients anticipate receiving from them and to boost the level of overall patient satisfaction.

1. Offer Omnichannel support 

First off, if you want to build healthcare call centers for your firm, your patients must be able to reach you using their preferred mode of communication. No matter if it is through email, phone calls, video chat, live chat, text messages, social media chat, or any other form of communication channel, as long as it places an emphasis on convenience for them and enables them to build a two-way communication with your company, you should be fine.

Omnichannel support enables your agents to maintain real-time updates on patient profiles that can be accessed by all agents using a unified set of communication channels. As such, it becomes easier for agents to transfer patients from one channel to another without interrupting the transaction.

2. Track Your Call Center KPIs

Make sure that, in addition to recording calls and making sure that each customer concern goes to the right specialized department, all of your customer service standards are met by your agents. It is a must to monitor the quality of each and every call by following a list of metrics.

Invest a significant amount of time to hone your clinic or hospital call center capabilities by taking the following metrics:

  • Average Response Time

    This is a key performance indicator for call centers that measures how long it takes an agent to respond to patient calls. Having a good ART in place makes sure that when a patient calls your help desk, an agent can answer the call and help the patient as soon as possible.
  • Average Queuing Time

    The average queuing time or waiting time is a call center metric that is closely related to the average response time. This metric gauges the amount of time that a patient spends on hold or in the queue before being connected with a help desk representative.
  • Average Handling Time

    This metric refers to the average amount of time a customer spends communicating with a representative, beginning with the moment the call is made and continuing until the problem is solved. In order to keep a good AHT score, you need to make sure that your customer service agents are well-versed in providing a quick and accurate resolution to patient concerns and are familiar with all of the medical services that your company has to offer to avoid long call duration due to misleading information, wrong call deflection, or even a mere lost in translation.
  • Average Call Time

    This indicator reflects the typical amount of time that a patient spends speaking with a customer service representative over the phone and other communication channels. It is important to keep in mind that regardless of the mode of communication used, the longer a patient spends their time, the more frustrated they become. This can cast a negative shadow on the reputation of your company. Make sure that all of your representatives are aware of how to respond to patient complaints in a manner that is both more prompt and precise.
  • Call Abandonment Rate

    This metric tracks the rate at which a customer hangs up the phone before getting through to an actual call center agent who can help them with their issue. It is reasonable to infer that the percentage of callers that hang up on you is directly related to the average amount of time it takes you to respond. Patients are more likely to hang up if your average response time is poor, so try to keep it as efficient and straightforward as possible. Your call abandonment rate can be easily calculated by taking the total number of calls received, dividing that number by the number of calls that were abandoned, and then multiplying the resulting amount by 100.
  • First Call Resolution

    Also known as FCR, This call center metric refers to the ability of your help desk to resolve a client complaint on the very first occasion that they speak with a representative. This criterion is one of the few that may be used to evaluate the dependability of the support desk channels you have.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

    This is the metric that, as the name suggests, measures how satisfied your patients are with their interactions with your call center channels throughout the various stages of the process. Asking patients for feedback right before a representative hangs up the phone is the easiest and most time-effective way to find out how satisfied they are with your services, despite the fact that there are many other ways to find out this information.

The CSAT score is determined by taking the total number of positive responses, dividing that number by the total number of all responses, and then multiplying that result by 100.

3. Comply with HIPAA Security Protocol

Compliance with the requirements outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is mandatory for all healthcare providers, and this obligation is not one that should be taken lightly. For one thing, the penalty for noncompliance might be excessively severe. Depending on the level of irresponsibility displayed, the amount of the fine can range anywhere from $100 to $50,000 for each separate infraction, and it can reach an astounding $1.5 million per calendar year for cumulative offenses. In addition, those who break the law risk going to jail.

Aside from the severe penalties, disobeying the HIPAA regulations can have a significant impact on your well-maintained reputation, which may result in the loss of patients who are loyal to your practice.

It may appear that we are exaggerating the importance of HIPAA compliance, but the reality is that you cannot afford to do so under any circumstances. In addition to preventing fraudulent activity in the healthcare industry, HIPAA safeguards the personal health information of both patients and medical professionals. In addition, HIPAA ensures the security and verifies the authenticity of your protected health information, or PHI. Examples of protected health information include billing information, medicines, appointment schedules, phone records, and even the results of MRI and blood test procedures.

4. Implement Regular Training Sessions

If you want every one of your patients to have a pleasant experience with your firm, you need to have a pool of employees who are well-versed in the standards that apply to healthcare contact centers. As part of the best practices for a healthcare help desk, you should make sure that all of your agents, both new and old, have the highest possible degree of knowledge in order to assist patients with their difficulties whenever they contact your help desk channels.

Building a robust infrastructure for the learning curve, which will ensure that all of your agents perform at a competent level, is the greatest course of action you can take to guarantee that all of the standards for your help desk are satisfied. Establish a consistent schedule of training sessions to evaluate employees' performance relative to the requirements of their jobs.

5. Demonstrate Sympathy & Say the Right Thing

It is just as vital how call center operators engage with patients as it is the information that they relay to them. Agents are expected to maintain a high level of professionalism at all times, yet they can squeeze more value out of each encounter by paying careful attention to how they deliver their spiels.

Here are some pointers to consider:

  • Don’t rely too much on call scripts - Don’t get the wrong idea here; call scripts are amazing. However, if an agent relies heavily on scripts, chances are, they will sound robotic and unauthentic. Encourage agents to add a more personal touch when speaking with a client. Using genuine (and wholesome) expression in conjunction with their good old call scripts allows agents to foster a more personal and relaxed conversation with clients. As such, you get to build stronger relationships with your patients.
  • Provide simple but comprehensive instructions - You need to be aware that some patients are not familiar with the majority of medical procedures and terminology. Even the simplest of instructions can leave patients confused, especially after the patient has hung up the phone and the conversation has ended. Because the agent was unable to provide a clear and concise instruction, the very last thing you want to do is restate the directions you gave them. As a consequence of this, it is the responsibility of the agents to provide patients with straightforward instructions.
  • Escalate when necessary - It is important to note that not all agents possess the necessary expertise to solve the problem that a particular patient is having. In this scenario, customer service agents need to know when it's appropriate to escalate a patient's request. Agents need to be aware of when they should escalate a request and to whom they should escalate the problem in order to get the most out of the escalation process. Patients have a lower chance of having to wait in long lines as a result of this change. Informing the patient of who they’re being transferred to and how this will help their concerns is an important step in becoming more proficient with escalation.
  • Exhibit optimism - It is never acceptable for a representative to give up and inform a patient that there is nothing that can be done for them. Even if a particular patient's request cannot be accommodated, a customer service representative can nevertheless make every effort to deliver an extraordinary experience in other ways.

6. Ask for Feedback

Asking clients for their feedback is one of the most efficient ways to learn how to provide better service. If you own and run a healthcare provider business, regardless of whether it is an independent polyclinic, a dental clinic, an optometrist clinic, or another type of practice entirely, this statement could not be more accurate. You have no choice but to solicit the feedback of your patients if you want to guarantee that all of your strategies are tailored to meet their requirements and satisfy their preferences.

Send out questionnaires to your clients, asking them about their experiences with the services you provide. As such, you will be able to determine which aspects of your approaches require further refinement or should be completely replaced.

7. Promote Self-Service Assistance

Although having a conversation with a real person at the call center is always the best option, some customers would rather handle patient-related matters on their own. Your healthcare organization can provide assistance to customers without the participation of a live representative if it has a straightforward FAQ portal. This is also the case if you wish to considerably cut down on the number of calls that are regularly received and managed by your agents.

8. Look for a Reliable Healthcare Call Center Outsourcing Partner

An in-house staff of healthcare call center agents isn't necessarily a bad thing to have, but if you want to streamline your help desk operations without breaking the bank, a company that specializes in medical call center outsourcing can aid you. Your call center solution provider ensures that you get the most out of your investment by providing you with a pool of expert call center agents who are familiar with adhering to your company's help desk standards and using the most up-to-date help desk tools and software to provide the best experience possible to your patients. This helps your call center solution provider ensure that you get the most out of your investment.

9. Cater to Patients’ Need with Compassion and Respect 

As was mentioned earlier, when interacting with a dynamic patient base, the first line of defense should always be your call center agents. To put it another way, they are the ones who introduce people to your brand and demonstrate to them how trustworthy and dependable your firm is. As such, your representatives need to be able to provide healthcare services to customers while demonstrating empathy and respect for them. During a conversation with a patient, supervisors should make sure that agents are able to investigate the psychological aspects of the patient's complaint. They should always avoid being rude and instead demonstrate a desire to help patients while also being nice and trying to keep things as simple as possible for them.

Provide Better Medical Assistance With Help Desk Services

In the world that we live in today, where everything is driven by technology, the ability to keep strong links with customers is the deciding factor in whether or not they will continue doing business with you. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through the use of call center channels. However, the vast majority of organizations fail to recognize the potential of call center channels for maintaining relationships with their customers. Even though using the good old telephone is still a thing today, your healthcare business may still ensure the relationships it has with its customers by utilizing this kind of communication in conjunction with other forms of interaction. In addition, having the capability to manage patient-related complaints in real time enables you to improve the experiences of the customers, and maintaining the customers' satisfaction is the only way to assure your business's success in the long run.

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