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Improving Care Through the Patient Contact Center

By Brett Brewer 10.14.21
Reading time: 5 minutes

Customer satisfaction matters just as much in the healthcare industry as any other. Often, the patient contact center (PCC) is a patient’s first experience with a provider or organization, and can set the tone for the rest of the relationship. 

On average, most health systems lose between 10-20% of annual patient revenues from patient leakage. Just a 5% increase in your network integrity can yield tens of millions of dollars in significant annual revenue opportunities. More importantly, a well-organized, technology-supported, and comprehensive Patient Contact Center can offer enormous value to current and potential patients, ensuring that they get the care they need. 

That’s why a modern PCC — measured by value-based benchmarks — is critical both for differentiating your organization and for preventing loss of highly valuable customers. 

7 ways to build a value-based patient contact center

The capability of the PCC far exceeds answering and directing calls. High-functioning contact centers can efficiently facilitate both clinical and nonclinical services as well as coordinate care across the system. Here’s how:

1. Start with a well-defined strategy

While it may seem obvious, beginning with an overall contact center strategy is essential for success. It’s also a step that many organizations skip — to their later frustration. A solid strategy will help you ensure that all key stakeholders are on the same page, and should address key questions such as:

  • What is the overall charter, or scope, of the contact center? What types of questions/requests will the contact center respond to? 
  • Will the contact center serve clinical and non-clinical patient needs? Does the contact center require clinical staff to function effectively? 
  • Will the contact center have both an inbound and outbound function? Will messages to patients originate with the contact center, or with contact center systems? 

With this strategy in place, most organizations find that future implementation and operational decisions are much easier to make. 

2. Take an omnichannel approach

Today’s patients expect to be able to contact their provider through a variety of channels. Email, text, secure chat, and other channels are essential methods of communication. 

Your contact center should be equipped to field communication from today’s most common channels, and should be prepared to add new channels as they grow in popularity and use. The power of Salesforce lies in its ability to integrate multiple inbound and outbound communication channels, and the platform is perpetually being expanded to include new communication types. 

3. Offer personalized communication with patients

Consumerism has changed the field of play for hospitals and health systems. As a result, healthcare organizations are competing to gain and retain patients—and first impressions are critical. 

A positive experience can give the patient confidence in making your organization the choice for their healthcare. We already know that:

  • 50% of patients say a bad digital experience with a healthcare provider ruins the entire experience with that provider
  • 82% of patients say that quality customer service is the most important factor they consider when choosing care
  • 62% of patients say good communication and continuous engagement matters the most for patient satisfaction

The goal of contact centers should be to make the patient experience as comforting as possible through both personalization and self-service — striving for that perfect balance between automation and a live, human-touch interaction. Providing personalized reminders, aftercare, and follow-up outreach to patients will drive adherence to care plans and reduce no-shows, cancellations, and readmissions.

When building patient communications, it’s important to remember that personalization goes beyond content. To guarantee maximum value from every message you send, you need to have the ability to capture patient preferences for timing, frequency, and channels for communication. 

4. Offer more value on calls and turn incident calls into opportunities

With full visibility into patient interactions and provider relationships, contact center agents and coordinators can streamline inquiry, case and incident resolutions, and provide more on the first call. 

By leveraging the data in Salesforce, they can turn incident calls into opportunities, and agents can identify care gaps to set additional appointments and provide a highly personalized, seamless patient experience. 

Incorporating predictive analytics into the agent’s workflow can help to identify the next best step or action for the individual. Perhaps patients don’t have access to a car and are unable to make an appointment, or childcare falls through at the last minute. It may be that you have a doctor’s office closer to their home or workplace.

In this sort of scenario, analytics can detect if a patient lacks access to transportation, captured as part of their social determinants of health. It then alerts the agent, who can help the patient arrange a ride to avoid missing the appointment.

Remember, your patients expect a cohesive, intelligent experience every time they interact with your organization. In today’s value-based healthcare world, having that personalized experience is more important than ever.

5. Keep patients in network and prevent referral leakage

Utilizing smart patient-provider matching and scheduling, PCC agents and care  coordinators can provide the best connections for follow-on care, and enable referral tracking and coordination for the entire care team.

Additionally, nurse triage and assessments can help navigate the patient to the right care, at the right time and the right location. Patients don’t have to wait weeks or months for a critical appointment, causing them to choose another provider. Not only does this provide better care, it can help prevent referral leakage outside of the system or network. 

6. Improve connection with patients

Patients want to feel connected and comfortable with their provider. The contact center can strengthen that connection with consistent and clear communication. Actively engaging and communicating with patients throughout their continued care will help clarify what they need to do to best care for themselves.

7. Close gaps in care

With the right data management in place, it’s possible for agents to see a complete picture of the patient’s history, including social determinants, empowering your team to flag potential special living circumstances, health risk factors, and barriers to care plan adherence. With this 360-degree patient view, you can build out journeys for your patient personas, close gaps in care, and establish robust preventative routines that help your patient stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

PCC agents can help facilitate a comprehensive care plan beyond just a specific appointment, and offer a holistic step-by-step management for chronic disease or preventative care. By using patient-specific care management pathways – including post-hospital discharge coordination — with personalized patient touchpoints, you can enable plan adherence and close those gaps in care.

What success looks like for today’s patient contact centers

For most call centers today, efficacy is measured using quantitative benchmarks: how fast calls are answered, the rate of first-call resolution, the number of agent-to-agent transfers, and so on. All those measures are important. However, these traditional, quantitative benchmarks fall short of the innovations and requirements of the broader healthcare industry’s transition to patient-centered, value-based care delivery. 

Your center should:

  • Strive to have access to patients’ upcoming and past appointments
  • Provide education and patient record materials in the system’s EHR and patient portal
  • Use intelligent routing to care coordinators, based on patient data and what is known about that patient at that point in time
  • Note the patients’ preferred channel of communication and empower operators to use that method
  • Drive an engaging, nuanced, and personal patient experience by quickly referencing past touchpoints and propose Next Best Actions 
  • Utilize social determinants to flag potential special living circumstances, health risk factors, and barriers to care plan adherence
  • Actively seek feedback on the quality and content of every interaction in a way that respects the privacy and communication preferences of the patient, and recognize improvement

Today’s PCC should drive revenue and patient satisfaction, reduce no-shows and time spent by caregivers on reaching patients, and eliminate the need for patients to fish around for answers to their questions. 

Deliver best-in-class care with Silverline’s patient contact center solution

Silverline’s patient contact center solution drives higher patient satisfaction and engagement by providing the necessary tools to create positive interactions with patients. This leads to greater brand loyalty and ultimately drives more informed care, including proactively identifying care gaps.

With Silverline, empower agents to interact with patients in a more comprehensive manner to drive greater patient engagement while providing tools to more effectively close patient inquiries through multiple channels. 

Silverline can tailor your patient contact center solution to meet your current and future needs. Our team leverages insight acquired through 10+ years in the business and thousands of engagements, along with real-world expertise gained across the Healthcare industry. From strategy and implementation to managed services, we guide clients through every phase of their journey — enabling continuous value with the Salesforce platform. See how we can help transform your patient content center.

Ready to see real results? We can help.

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