The Healthcare Paradigm
Part 2: Improving the Patient Experience with ShoreTel Contact Center
By Chris Recio, Dir. Contact Center & Advanced Applications
This is part two of The Healthcare Paradigm – if you missed last week’s part one, make sure to read it here.
As mentioned previously (Part 1), many healthcare providers find contact centers as counter-intuitive to their patient experience needs. After all, healthcare providers are all about providing their patients with the specific and individual attention that they need, when they need it most. We frequently run into this misconception about contact centers and it’s only stunting the growth of an otherwise successful organization. When was the last time you had to wait at the doctor’s office? Always? There’s a clear need for some efficiencies in the healthcare field, and a ShoreTel Contact Center is one of the most beneficial solutions for improving the patient experience.
A benefit of deploying the ShoreTel Contact Center solution is its:
- ease of configuration
- ease of use
- nimble IVR process
These features allow each operation the ability to grow into their contact center operation, and slowly and deliberately chart a pathway to improving the patient experience.
A great part of this process is an education of common contact center metrics and how to interpret those metrics into a viable action plan for continual improvement. Metrics such as: Service Level, Average Queue Time, Abandoned Call, Answer Rate, etc., matter greatly in the quest to provide a great experience to patients. Having access to metrics allows the healthcare operation to tie the numbers to the customer experience, and more importantly the cost of deploying a contact center operation pays for itself with improved patient retention and satisfaction.
In analyzing patient interactions with staff and the healthcare provider, many inquiries are dedicated to making appointments, following up on claims, and/or providing new or additional information related to insurance, etc. There are clients too that look for nursing support and many of the operations do offer the ability for a patient to reach out to the Advice Nurse, and under those circumstances, it is generally understood that the Advice Nurse will take more phone calls given the nature of the inquiry.
WHY DO COMPANIES NEED A CONTACT CENTER STRATEGY?
While the leap from a general operation to the contact center operation will take some thought and direction, the benefits far outweigh the work required to move the operation forward. Many of our healthcare clients have seen great success with their realigned and focused strategy.
As an example, one of our clients has seen an 8% increase in their ability to fulfill prescription orders by centralizing the contact center operation and freeing up the professional pharmacologists from taking calls. This has had a great impact on their profitability, and they too have seen a great improvement in employee morale and overall revenue.
Given the nature of the pharmacological inquiries and the traffic arriving into the contact center, it is necessary for the pharmacist to take a call every now and then. However, each department works together as an extension of the contact center, and, as a result the synergy they have created surrounding the contact center operation as a whole has seen a benefit to all, including the patient. Additionally, the Executive Team has spent an incredible amount of time learning more about the contact center and how its operations directly impact profitability and growth.
By deploying the ShoreTel Contact Center, this operation has adopted a contact center operation, and in doing so, they have seen an increased ability to gain and support new clients, open new facilities under their operational umbrella and are poised to continue this growth trajectory over the coming year.
On the flip side, we too have seen healthcare operations languish in their ability to offer great patient experiences while experiencing abandoned calls up to 35%, increased patient attrition, and client dissatisfaction. This information is discovered through patient inquiry, and overwhelmingly, patients state that the cumbersome phone process – their inability to reach someone to make an appointment – and the in-office inattentiveness is at the root of their choice to take their business elsewhere.
In adopting a contact center strategy, the idea is not to eliminate client inquiries from one group altogether, but instead to redistribute the focus of importance of each member and business unit and how each plays a part in the overall success of the patient experience, and of course, profitability.
By exploring how a contact center strategy fits into the healthcare umbrella, finding ways to put best practices to work in this industry can pay dividends for improving patient/client experiences and retention, while also creating a foundation for continued growth and profitability.
DESIGNING A PARADIGM SHIFT
Keep in mind that the leap from a general operation to the contact center operation will take some thought and direction. By rethinking the contact center and how it can help patients, consider the following ideas
A STARTING POINT
- Consider dedicating staff to handling client inquiries. The primary focus of these individuals would be best served focused on the client inquiries without interruption by other responsibilities. While there is a cost to adding this focus, the loss of one patient far outweighs the expense.
- Consider dedicating front-office staff to clients within the office, free from the responsibility to responding to client inquiries via telephone, email, etc. There’s no better way to frustrate clients within the office than to ask them to wait while staff handles phone calls.
- Consider deploying an After-Care Survey process to gain direct insight on the patient/client experience. This piece alone will provide valuable input and feedback in your efforts to continually improve the operation for all.
- Patient inquiries are managed by dedicated staff, immediately improving the opportunity for a great experience with reduced patient wait times.
- In-office staff are more focused on the 1:1 interactions of patients arriving for appointments and care. The result is a more personalized patient experience, free from distractions or interruptions.
- Improved patient experience result in improved patient retention.
At Inflow, the common theme we have seen with our successful healthcare clients is they have made the leap from a basic telephone system to deploying the ShoreTel Contact Center solution.
Many of our current healthcare customers who have made the shift into adding a ShoreTel Contact Center operation as part of their facility have seen excellent results in patient satisfaction and retention
In deploying a ShoreTel Contact Center solution these operations have centralized their patient/client communication within a contact center operation and this change in process has allowed in-office staff to stay focused on the in-office patient experience.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Healthcare Paradigm and how to deploy the ShoreTel Contact Center solution for a better organization from the inside out, reach out to our Contact Center team.