Healthcare is transitioning to a model in which patients are taking a more consumer-oriented approach to their healthcare, so the future of healthcare organizations will increasingly depend on the quality of the overall patient experience. The ability of healthcare organizations to keep patients engaged in their own care, from provider to provider, throughout the care continuum, will be a critical success factor.
Steve Whitehurst, vice president and general manager of Stericycle Communication Solutions, points out that expectations of an exceptional care experience requires healthcare organizations to engage patients not just “as needed” during care delivery, but on a continual basis throughout the entire continuum. Patient communication is critical to patient engagement because it is estimated that it costs 90 percent less to get current patients to return for future care than it does to attract new patients, according to Whitehurst.
More importantly, though, a solid communication effort can yield a quality patient experience that prevents lost revenue because of low HCAHPS scores or patients switching to other providers. It all sounds good in theory. But developing a patient communication and engagement strategy can be a tall order for even large healthcare organizations. Most lack the infrastructure and core competencies necessary to efficiently build and maintain a successful patient communication system.
Call center services can be effective at engaging patients across three major facets of their healthcare experience, including:
- Access to Care
- Care Delivery
- Follow Up Care
Discover how call center services can improve the quality of satisfaction with your healthcare organization.
Access to Care
One of the biggest challenges facing all healthcare organizations is getting patients into the system quickly and efficiently. Whether assisting a long-established patient who could benefit from nurse triage services or helping a brand-new patient who needs a physician referral and appointment setting, an effective call center can provide faster and more seamless access to care. In addition to non-clinical services such as daytime call management and after-hours answering services, call centers also offer patient access to additional benefits such as appointment reminders and class or event registrations.
With respect to wellness programs and prevention outreach, robust call centers can be used not just to answer questions and contact potential participants, but also to ensure they are properly connected with the desired program. A similar role is possible with regard to communicating diagnostic test results, and even in the transitions of care.
Follow Up Care
With providers increasingly coordinating care and sharing responsibility for the well-being of patients, post-service follow-up is becoming more and more important. Call centers can be used on behalf of a provider to follow up with patients about their clinical well-being after an emergency department visit, a hospital admission, or even a routine visit for a chronic condition.
Fostering patient relationships through enhanced communications strategies will ultimately help determine whether a healthcare organization is able to meet or exceed its cost and quality expectations.