The centralized call center has become the cornerstone for providing improved access for patients in large, complex healthcare delivery systems. As more and more provider organizations are placing a greater level of emphasis on the patient experience, savvy Patient Access Managers are looking very closely at their Call Center metrics to ensure that best practices are being utilized.
A well designed call center can be the catalyst for revenue generation and increased market share. The data available from your Automated Call Distribution System (ACD) can provide a wealth of opportunity for further improvements in your Call Center. Patient Access Managers should carefully evaluate call abandonment rates and service levels; the time it takes in seconds for your staff to answer patient calls. If either of these metrics are too high, you may want to consider an outside vendor to manage your overflow calls.
At the most fundamental level, patient telephone calls represent revenue to your organization. Unanswered calls are an enormous frustration to patients. Due to budgetary constraints, many organizations are unable to staff their call centers to address call volumes at peak periods throughout the day. As such, call abandonment rates tend to increase at the start of each day; especially Monday mornings, during the noon hour and late in the day when patients are out of work. Call volumes also tend to increase during these times as patients make repeat calls in an attempt to get through to a patient service representative.
An overflow vendor can act as an extension of your call center; having access to the same registration and scheduling applications that you are using internally. A reputable vendor can assign a dedicated team of resources to your call center, assuring that consistent scheduling protocols are met. Further, with proper vendor relationship management and training, the “overflow” team; can play a valuable part in reducing abandonment rates, reducing call volume and improving overall patient satisfaction.
Consider a vendor that can help you create a positive consumer experience. Ensure that your vendor is a caring and compassionate partner that supports your organizations’ mission. Carefully consider a vendor who has extensive experience in the physician access arena.
Critical to making this decision is ensuring that your technology, to include your Automated Call Distribution System, call recording capability and call disposition tracking methodologies are available for use by the vendor. Additionally, select a vendor that understands the constantly changing healthcare environment; one that is committed to a rapid, high quality implementation and a long lasting relationship. An overflow vendor, if managed properly can be a cost effective solution to a common access problem.