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How a medical
contact center and
a healthcare call
center can drive
better patient

Author: Satta Sarmah Hightower

Patients call doctors' offices, health clinics and hospitals every day, but the experience can be frustrating if they can't get through or are put on hold for what seems like forever. Medical contact centers and healthcare call centers help solve this problem by allowing healthcare providers to route calls more efficiently and ensure patients have a positive care experience—before they even enter the doctor's office or between care visits.

The value of a medical contact center

On the most fundamental level, a medical contact center allows healthcare providers to deliver a better omnichannel experience to patients. A healthcare call center handles a variety of patient communications, including phone calls, emails, text and live chat messages patients may send to their doctor via a secure communications portal. Healthcare providers can outsource contact center operations to a third-party service or run their own contact center with trained staff, optimizing and automating parts of their workload with the help of cloud-based solutions.

Improving the patient experience through healthcare call centers

Contact centers can improve the patient experience because they facilitate timely answers to patients' questions and care needs. Traditionally, a patient might call their provider's office and leave a message or have a receptionist tell them the doctor will get back to them later in the day.

Medical contact centers streamline this process. They can route a patient's call to another medical center agent or staff member and automate the order in which calls are answered, especially in emergency situations or when patients need same-day appointments. Many medical contact centers provide 24/7 service in the form of live chat, text messaging, or interactive voice response and answering options, giving patients assurance that someone has seen their query and will respond as soon as possible.

At the same time, the improved communication that medical contact centers support affects how often and quickly a patient is able to see their doctor and receive accurate information that empowers them to be more engaged in their own care.

Enhancing the workforce

A cloud contact center solution can augment the work of healthcare staff. Though medical contact center agents are highly trained professionals who are dedicated to providing quality customer service to patients, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can improve their work. A cloud contact center solution that connects various omnichannel communications can facilitate seamless call routing. A contact center that has virtual chatbot can answer basic patient questions, or a live contact center agent can help patients who have more complex questions.

This solution can also facilitate outbound dialing campaigns that allow staff to send automated reminders and updates to patients, reducing the manual, time-intensive work associated with individual calling. As providers offer more in-person and virtual services, including telehealth visits, these capabilities can improve the patient experience by providing different channels and ways in which patients can engage with a provider and access the quality care they need.

Healthcare call center technological infrastructure

Providers need several capabilities to run an effective omnichannel contact center.

First, they need a centralized cloud contact center solution. With a single, secure, HIPAA-ready platform, providers can take advantage of capabilities such as omnichannel call routing, smart routing and a private IP network while ensuring high availability, reliability and data security. Through application programming interfaces (APIs), an omnichannel contact center solution can integrate with existing customer communication management systems and extend their capabilities—without the expensive or timely overhaul of completely replacing them.

Many of the capabilities an omnichannel contact center solution offers enable healthcare providers and their staff to more efficiently handle high call volumes and connect all their various communications channels. Omnichannel call routing, for example, connects interactions across email, chat, phone and SMS. Smart routing sends patients to the appropriate agent or staff member who can answer their questions. It also provides agents with relevant information so they can have a productive conversation with the patient from the very beginning of their interaction.

Network performance and security are also critical to effective healthcare contact center operations. Some of the most sensitive data an organization can collect include patient's medical and health histories, so it's important that providers also adopt network on-demand services along with their medical contact center solution. These services encompass solutions such as dedicated internet services and private IP networks that improve call center speed, reliability and capacity. They also minimize the risk of downtime and network failures and securely transmit data via a virtual private network connection. These capabilities can be especially beneficial if a provider's contact center staff or receptionists are working remotely.

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