The shortage of healthcare professionals and the aging of baby boomers are expected to continue to put pressure on the customer service arm of hospitals. Mergers and acquisitions in the industry add another layer of complexity as disparate systems, processes, and skills come under the same management.

IT and customer service managers need to reevaluate how they interact with patients before and after healthcare services have been provided. Enterprise Contact Center solutions can help drive business transformation and provide a competitive edge by improving quality, increasing revenues, and reducing cost.

Improving quality

1. Customer satisfaction:

The perceived quality of the provided healthcare services extends beyond the hospital visit – the ease of setting up appointments and follow-ups, reminder services, and referrals influence how patients evaluate their experience. Contact center solutions offer tools to improve these areas.

2. Business intelligence and visibility:

The real-time and historical reporting capabilities, call recording and monitoring, Computer Telephony Integration solutions, and the Workforce Optimization capabilities that the Contact Center solutions provide will help Customer Service Managers to take real time and strategic operations and business decisions to improve quality and patient satisfaction.

3. Efficiency:

The interactive voice response, computer telephony, and database integration that the contact center solutions offer will help increase the efficiency of the scarce healthcare professionals by increasing the first call resolution rate, decreasing average handle time, and offloading some of the repetitive and transactional inquiries to automated self-service platforms. These efficiencies can be further optimized by leveraging multi-channel solutions such as email and chat, while offering patients alternative ways to contact the healthcare provider.

Contact Center Opportunities for Hospitals

Increasing revenues

4. Increasing patient retention and acquiring new patients:

The tools that Enterprise Contact Center solutions provide help increase patient satisfaction by improving the customer service experience and therefore increasing patient retention and the likelihood of acquiring new patients through word of mouth. In addition, the ease of interaction with other healthcare providers will help drive more referrals.

5. Reducing no-show rate:

Hospitals can use live or automated appointment reminders to lower the no-show rate while freeing up personnel time for more complex tasks.

Reducing cost

Research conducted as early as the 1970s concluded that greater hospital competition leads to higher healthcare cost because hospitals tend to compete on the basis of quality rather than costs, primarily due to the nature of the services provided. Since late 80s and early 90s, hospitals had to reevaluate their competition strategy – offer the best possible health care quality at the lowest possible price tag.

Hospitals quickly realized that technology can be leveraged to increase quality and decrease costs. But for most small hospitals, the cost of new information systems carries a significant burden, perhaps contributing to the continuing trend of mergers and acquisition, as Chief Financial Officers seek to share the fixed cost of technology through a larger revenue base – the economies of scale that is.

Enterprise Contact Center solutions provide an opportunity to optimize the business operations and information technology cost in the following areas:

6. Lower IT support cost:

The centralized support and the decentralized service proposition that the Contact Center solutions offer will allow for a support model where enterprise-wide personnel handle support inquiries rather than dedicated staff at each location or practice and therefore decreasing the cost of IT Support.

7. Maintenance contracts:

One Enterprise Contact Center solution can replace several disparate legacy systems, therefore reducing the number and cost of maintenance and support contracts.

What impact are you expecting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? How will it influence competition? What role do you anticipate Contact Center solutions will play? What compelling business needs it would address?