Streamlining Patient Care through Health Contact Centers

Updated on April 21, 2021

By Chris Bauserman, VP, Product & Segment Marketing

Frontline workers have demonstrated considerable resiliency since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. An underrated resource in healthcare’s success is the contact center, which often serves as the first point of contact for patients’ families, doctors’ offices, hospitals and insurance companies. Contact center agents help coordinate care across the entire system, and are poised to play a larger role in the client experience going forward.

The growing influence of contact center agents coincides with the rapid change in patient care, which was trending digital even before the pandemic. Over the years, healthcare providers have started offering greater digital services, including email, text and self-service portals. Despite the shift, clients still want and expect a human voice to assist certain issues. This kind of omnichannel experience requires a modern contact center platform that can deliver holistic care while streamlining the client and agent experiences. 

This piece will take a deeper dive into customer experience shortfalls, looking to BAYADA Home Health Care as an example of a healthcare provider that has managed to overcome these roadblocks and improve and grow their service.

Unified Channels

Expectations for patient care and client experience are rising. Influenced by their digital experiences as consumers, as clients now expect similar interactions with their healthcare providers. In short, they want the ability to connect anytime on any channel. But as parts of the client experience trend digital, many healthcare providers do not have to flexibility to personalize care at scale. 

Most healthcare contact centers today can take calls at a high volume and accept clientcommunications across multiple channels, such as email. What many can’t do, however, is enable agents to effortlessly navigate these channels based on client needs and preferences. For example, BAYADA Home Health Care’s contact center previously ran on an on-premises infrastructure that enabled voice interactions with clients, yet every phone in the office would ring when the care team received a call. This archaic system produced high effort, frustrating experiences, as clients were passed around and put on hold until they were transferred to the appropriate agent. When this happens, some clients just give up, which BAYADA witnessed first-hand when their abandon rate hovered around 20 percent.

After switching to a cloud contact center platform, BAYADA had access to advanced technology that reduced this friction for their clients. BAYADA’s contact center was able to simplify its interactive voice response so that callers were directed to the right agent right away. A seemingly simple fix helped the organization reduce their abandon rate to 2.5 percent. This efficiency was applied to other channels as well, including email. BAYADA introduced artificial intelligence (AI) to their email service by analyzing each email’s sender and subject line, so that they were automatically directed to the correct agent, improving service levels by 70 percent on a channel that was growing exponentially. 

Performance Insights

Making care teams more accessible through digital channels has dramatically changed the way clients interact with healthcare providers, but that alone does not necessarily improve the experience. After all, if there is a flaw in the way an agent is responding to a routine issue, the ability to make that same mistake over email or Facebook Messenger does not help the agent or the client. As a result, health providers’ contact centers are only as strong as the agents who are asked to problem-solve and demonstrate emotional intelligence day in and day out.

To ensure that care is uniform and carried out equally by all agents, contact centers need insights into performance. Too many healthcare providers, like BAYADA until recently, do not have the right technology in place to give contact center agents and their managers a transparent assessment of performance – making it difficult to identify individual and systemic problems. Once BAYADA moved to the cloud, however, its contact center could start managing performance based on measurements they did not even know they could track.

These management tools are available to everyone in the contact center, so agents can see real-time feedback and scorecards through their interfaces. And because managers also have access to performance information, they are able to balance workloads better. By empowering agents and managers to track their performances, contact center leaders can unite the organization behind transparent care goals. 

Reducing Costs and Enabling Growth

Overhauling contact center infrastructure can seem like a major project. There is often a temptation to stick with the status quo because that is the path of least resistance. But when organizations grow and expand their client base, they need to invest in a customer experience platform that can grow and scale on pace with increased efficiencies. 

With its old, on-premises system, BAYADA would have had to double its staff to manage the surging wave of growth and interactions. However, with the efficiencies gained through its migration to a cloud system, BAYADA hasn’t seen an equivalent rise in contact center expenses – and in fact phone and email expenses decreased 25 and 15 percent, respectively. 

The cloud doesn’t just replace the foundation of a retired on-premises system, it builds on it, allowing for more interactions at cheaper costs. It also opens the door to integrate advances in analytics, automation and AI to continue to improve customer service and agent efficiency. With smarter technology and more channels at their disposal, agents are better suited to help administer and oversee care for the entire organization.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.