In an industry where changing regulations is the norm, healthcare customer service plays a critical role in gaining competitive advantage over business counterparts. Customers today are used to receiving high-quality customer service from any industry that they interact with. It is therefore the responsibility of the healthcare providers to match up to these expectations.
In such cases, a call center outsourcing services company can help in providing customized and cost-efficient solutions to meet all the requirements of a healthcare provider. They ensure that a healthcare organization’s customer service offering meets the industry standards and benchmarks. Given that healthcare call centers have learnings from several similar partnerships, they can help in facilitating a brand’s medical practice to maximize customer satisfaction and maintain the reputation of the brand. Some processes are explained below.
Are Healthcare Organizations Outsourcing their Call Center Services?
Healthcare is among the largest industries in the world, and until recently, it didn’t consider outsourcing its services. However, with the increasing competition in the sector and the aim to deliver excellence in patient care and management, healthcare industry is slowly starting to warm up to the idea of outsourcing a portion of their patient management and support services. As outsourcing takes a huge load off the shoulders of healthcare providers, they can focus on their core competency of diagnosing and treating patients.
Looking at the current pandemic situation, healthcare organizations are under a lot of pressure to maintain their patient support services within a tight budget. So, yes, they are increasingly outsourcing their call center services. The entire world is in a state of public health emergency that is inundating the reception desks of global healthcare organizations with a huge volume of calls and enquiries from panicking patients. Here, virtual medical call center services can provide a way to manage any immediate concerns regarding COVID-19 and also protect healthcare personnel from being exposed to the coronavirus through proper scheduling.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare call center outsourcing companies will become even more prevalent as the healthcare staff and personnel seek additional flexibility and shift in the working standards. Consequently, the changing healthcare landscape will demand higher efficiency in prioritizing calls, eliminating risks, increasing flexibility, and delivery of quality service.
Therefore, for healthcare providers, it will be the need of the hour to outsource their operations involving patient data and mission-critical processes as well.
The A to Z of the Medical Call Center Services
Physician Referral Services
This ensures that patients are connected with the physician who meets their healthcare needs. These are highly skilled professionals with all the information about the capabilities of hospitals and physicians.
A medical call center has brand specialists who apply their training, experience, passion and customer insight to build relationships with members and create memorable experiences for them.
These refer to activation of health plans and insurance claims among other things.
A call centre service will set up regular calls with patients and other members to update and send reminders to them on a periodic basis. This could be with regard to appointments or claims.
A medical call center also helps healthcare businesses conduct periodic surveys to understand the levels of patient satisfaction and whether there are improvements needed in the service levels.
Product or Service Introductions
Most often, healthcare organizations launch products or services that need to be conveyed to clients. A medical call centre also helps in this regard.
Through a medical call center, a healthcare organization can also connect with prospective candidates for recruitment.
A medical call centre also serves the purpose of sales and other aspects.
When integrated with the regular activities, an outbound medical call centre can also help in managing and directing the inbound customer care better.
Rate Change or Billing Support
Many times, there may be a change in the rates of services or treatment offered by a healthcare organization. It becomes the responsibility of the call centre executives to update customers on this. They also offer billing support.
Enrollment and Application Processing
Medical call centres also update potential customers on their enrolment, appointment and help with processing the application.
Seminar Registrations and Reservations
Healthcare organizations often conduct seminars and conferences. A well-equipped medical call centre will also be able to handle these tasks end to end.
It is imperative to examine every claim as this will ensure that the health system is acquainted with new payment models, rules and regulations. A good healthcare call center will ensure that the claim procedure is swiftly and smoothly automated. This will further help in surging the clean claim rates, reduce revenue detriment, and cut down manual procedures.
Does Outsourcing Mean Compromise on Quality?
Does an outsourced medical center indicate lack of control or quality? This section explores certain myths and misconceptions about this. One may feel, at the outset, that there are many advantages of an in-house healthcare call centers over outsourced ones. This includes control over aspects like staffing, training, monitoring, and performance. However, there are two flaws here. One is that having everything in house does not translate into complete control. The second is that outsourcing also does not indicate a complete reduction in control.
It is important to take note of the fact that when outsourced to the best medical call center services, it can help a company reduce the pressure of staffing, training, monitoring, and maintaining a call center. The best medical call centers will work in tandem with healthcare specialists to develop and revise customized phone scripts. This in turn will help in personalizing calls for each patient, ensuring that everything is in compliance with hospital-employed practices, lead to better patient experience, among other things.
The other misconception is that medical call centers only handle inbound calls. However, they also do outbound calling and in fact, as often as inbound. A good medical call center would provide several patient support services including referrals, admissions and discharges, prescriptions, and scheduling, etc. Outsourced medical call centers can therefore be a boon for hospital’s patient engagement strategy.
Benefits of a Having Healthcare Call Center Service
Call centers have long been the backbone of several industry verticals. They help in managing the business better, apart from providing the best customer service and experience. They offer an extensive list of benefits to organizations. In the realm of healthcare, they help in effectively connecting with service providers through various communication channels. This is key towards better patient experience and is also cost effective. It is possible to achieve these goals with the help of optimized medical call center operations.
Healthcare providers are becoming very patient centric nowadays which has increased the demand for medical call centers. From patient retention initiatives and appointment scheduling to communicating with referring medical professionals, medical call centers help the health centers in keeping pace with new developments and technology. They thus help healthcare in extending their unconditional support to patients. This is because thanks to them the call volumes to the healthcare facility are rerouted leaving the staff to care better for patients.
Apart from this, there is a difference in the level of convenience and service offered to patients when healthcare providers use a medical call center service. Patients have the assurance that they have continuous access to care. Given that hospital management is a very important responsibility, it is imperative to ensure that the entire process runs and functions smoothly. A medical call center can help the hospital with several things. They also set-up appointments, do follow-up calls with patients, and remind them of pending appointments. Some other aspects in which medical call centers are beneficial for healthcare providers are as follows.
Caring for Patients Effectively
Customer satisfaction is one of the most important aspects of any business, especially for healthcare providers. It is important to provide accurate information to patients because their perception of the provider completely depends upon the services they are provided with. Therefore, it becomes important to automate the complete process and this is one of the most important aspects that hospitals should take care of. Hospitals, on their part, should ensure that the personnel employed by their customer service center are completely aware of the needs of patients and have the requisite skills and expertise to address different situations.
Bridging the Gap
Sometimes maintaining administrative activity records of patients and prescriptions can become too hectic. A good medical call center can help in prioritizing and proactively distributing this work. It also helps in providing business intelligence which further significantly improves operational efficiency, meets SLAs, and measures regulatory compliance.
Payment and Collections
One of the most important functions of any healthcare service provider is collection. A good healthcare call center can streamline fee collection and also improve the productivity of the collections department. This is because it is very easy to use and implement payment reminders by phone using automated service. This feature can get embedded in a normal phone sales process or be used as a standalone application dedicated to bill or fee payment.
Proactive Engagement and Notifications
This is a very challenging objective for all healthcare providers. Despite their personal commitment and technology available today, there are several obstacles in moving to a proactive health model. This is where offering customer assistance through multichannel support such as emails and texts come into the picture. It minimizes the number of interrupted transactions which can be one of the provocations for customers to switch to other options available.
Integration into Multi-Channel Patient Journeys
Having an optimized medical call center is essential for every healthcare organization. This will help to go beyond answering and responding to patient calls and be a part of the overall marketing strategy and growth objectives. As call centers document and detail every customer interaction, the data can be used to build more accurate and complete patient profiles. So, whenever a call center agent is connected with the patient, they can see the whole journey of the patient interaction allowing them to efficiently answer any queries and suggest further resources or opportunities within the healthcare organization.
Patient Engagement & Customer Service in the Healthcare Industry
When it comes to medical call center services, offering compassionate care is important while also focusing on patient engagement, acquisition, and retention. Here, conveying value and personalization with every patient interaction is the key to ensuring the best patient engagement. The best healthcare call centers ensure that your healthcare organization becomes the preferred choice of patients for life by engaging with the right customers at the right time and way. Moreover, with state-of-the-art training and tools, our call center representatives are provided with robust caller profiles and campaign data to guide each call and address patient queries quickly.
Advantages of Outsourcing Healthcare Call Center Services
One of the biggest industries globally, healthcare helps in diagnosing and treating patients – which is one of the mainstays of developing and developed economies alike. One of the primary aspects in healthcare organizations is to maximize staff efficiency and deliver excellent patient care.
When there is an improvement in patient experience — right from diagnosis to check-in to recovery and release – they are more confident and likely to return to the same healthcare facility and recommend it to others. However, to provide excellent patient care, there is a need to invest in resources and manpower. When healthcare organizations make an effort to outsource non-care responsibilities assigned to their staff members, the latter will be able to handle patients and give them quality care.
When it comes to outsourcing non-core activities, the healthcare sector lags behind other industries. One of the primary reasons for this is that this industry is highly fragmented. This can create barriers especially when it comes to flow of information across the value chain. Apart from this, healthcare operations have never considered outsourcing an important part.
However, there is a change we can see in the last few years and outsourcing has become an important aspect of delivering quality patient care. This has led to more and more healthcare organizations outsourcing their non-core activities to medical call centres.
Let us look at some of the advantages of medical call centres for healthcare organizations.
Healthcare is a very competitive industry and therefore, one of the main aims is to reduce costs. Outsourcing can prove to be a boon in this regard and is integral to achieving this goal.
Outsourcing can help healthcare organizations save a considerable amount of money. This is because a medical call centre would be able to handle tasks that may otherwise need to be carried out by full-time in-house professionals. This would have a direct bearing on the company expenses. A medical call centre would help providers save big on the cost of acquiring additional staff and training them.
The team at the medical call centre keeps itself updated on the latest changes in regulations and standards. Healthcare companies have started considering outsourcing to realize cost savings and gain better control over the cost incurred in the outsourced function. Healthcare companies consider a medical call centre service that specializes in the functions they are looking at and is able to carry it out more efficiently than them given the volume of transactions.
Access to Specialists
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of outsourcing is that there are skilled professionals with tremendous amounts of expertise and experience in carrying out tasks. They are also ready to take on jobs of any complexity and size on a short notice. This ensures that all the client requirements are taken care of in the best possible manner without any administrative hassles. It also helps in eliminating a lot of paperwork and the tension of employee acquisition and retention. All of this is handled by the outsourcing partner.
Better Patient Care
One of the primary reasons for healthcare companies to outsource their work is to eliminate distractions and focus on the core competency, which is patient care and satisfaction. A medical call centre can come as a lifesaver for them since they remove or lessen the tedious administrative functions. They also help with managing the workload and realigning their focus on providing quality patient care. All this further leads to better healthcare standards and thereby increases the quality of patient care. This positive experience will lead to better patient satisfaction and therefore goodwill for the healthcare organization.
Avoiding Critical Mistakes
Certain critical errors in the domain of healthcare, particularly those related to patient medical records can prove detrimental. However, given that a medical call centre adheres to rules and regulations, it ensures that patient records stay in the private domain and are not handled in the wrong manner.
Outsourcing billing operations can also help in avoiding some critical billing mistakes. This is because the medical data entry tasks are handled by a dedicated team of trained professionals and they ensure high accuracy. From medical coding, billing, claims adjudication, accounts receivable, records indexing, and other activities, a medical call centre can help ensure the highest level of efficiency and accuracy.
Increased Acceptance Among Peers
When the non-core activities are outsourced, it not only saves time and effort for the staff in the healthcare facility but also lends an international feel to the entity. The business operations are more professional, and people would be more likely to trust the brand. The company would also be accepted better in its peer group and amidst stakeholders. Going forward, the healthcare facility would be able to offer more services to its patients, giving them an edge over their competitors.
It requires specialized expertise in running a healthcare call center. This is more so in cases where the calls are related to health-specific issues and possible financial challenges. However, the best outsourced medical call centers know how to hire and train the right mix of people who have good listening skills, calm demeanor, service mentality, and most importantly, empathy for patients. The agents are given ongoing, in-depth training on the medical aspects of the job and how to represent the healthcare companies just like they are the members of their staff. A good medical call centre would also make use of advanced technology and tools to ensure they give the best quality service and report results.
Why small and medium healthcare providers are outsourcing patient and customer support services?
Healthcare organizations are now realizing that adopting managed services can help them to save expenses required for managing a dedicated service staff and costly equipment. There are organizations that set up their own data center, deploy their own servers, and hire staff to handle their IT services, but it isn’t an optimal way of carrying out operations for small and medium healthcare business owners considering the high-cost labor required to get mission-critical applications up and running. Therefore, outsourcing is a viable option.
Here are some of the reasons due to which healthcare providers are outsourcing their patient and customer support services.
The healthcare sector is worst hit by cybersecurity attacks as compared to other sectors. Outsourcing medical call center services can help to ensure that all the vital systems and data are well protected from hackers and malware. A data breach can leave a healthcare provider in an irreparable state of damage. As outsourcing service providers manage and eliminate any vulnerabilities in the system, mishaps and emergencies are significantly reduced.
Effective patient care
Ensuring customer satisfaction has always been at the top of the priority list for businesses. This is especially true for organizations offering healthcare services. When healthcare organizations outsource some of their essential services to medical call center service providers they can be assured of effective patient care. It is crucial to provide relevant and accurate information to the patients and other individuals seeking medical care, and outsourcing these services to an expert can help with that. In addition, healthcare call center outsourcing companies also ensure that their teams thoroughly understand the unique needs of the healthcare provider and address different situations accordingly and in line with the practice’s vision and philosophy.
Streamline payments and collections
Maintaining an efficient collection cycle is essential for any healthcare service provider. Medical call center services can not only help them to collect fees in a streamlined manner but also enhance the productivity of the collection department. As making payments by phone is fairly easy to implement, call center service providers can embed this feature in a standalone application dedicated to the phone sales process or bill payment.
Proactive customer engagement
Providing proactive customer service has always been a challenge for healthcare providers and doctors. Regardless of their personal commitment and available technology, they have to face many obstacles while making the shift to an effective proactive healthcare model. WIth a dedicated healthcare call center, customers are given the option to switch to multiple modes of communication like email, call or text messages to seek assistance. They can also be alerted about test results, appointments and cancellations well in advance thus resulting in a better overall engagement experience.
Healthcare organizations opt for outsourcing because it offers greater scalability for their services.Many times, it happens that the capacity purchased for the in-house services isn’t used completely in anticipation of future demand. But by outsourcing their services, they gain access to burst capacity which allows them to meet the demands during peak periods without significant capital investment.
Healthcare call center outsourcing companies ensure greater reliability of patient care services. It has dedicated teams for each managed service that realize uptime levels are difficult to achieve for an organization operating a service in a single data center. Moreover, healthcare services aren’t limited to just 9-5 operations – they have doctors and professionals working round the clock and even during their off-hours from around the world. Therefore, their patient support services are also expected to run on a 24/7/365 basis, which is already what outsourcing providers offer.
The COVID-19 patient influx isn’t just affecting the crowded halls and jammed up emergency services. It is also having a major impact on the phone lines of healthcare organizations that are unable to handle call center queries considering the overburdened doctors and other healthcare staff working on the frontlines of patient care.
ExpertCallers hosts a robust call center strategy, where the agents take complete charge of responding to every customer query, taking requests, booking appointments and forwarding certain medical queries to the doctors and nurses who can help. Our experienced call center agents and advanced infrastructure enable healthcare organizations to meet the demands and handle the high volume of patient requests in the present pandemic situation. Reach out to us today to know more about how our medical answering services can empower your business during these challenging times.