Patient engagement solutions and population management strategies have been at the top of the list for many healthcare providers. All of this is driven by recent regulations and changes enforced by the Affordable Care Act. At the end of the day, providers are looking to cut costs, reduce readmission, and avoid penalties. What many are missing is the power of the patient service centers (or contact centers) in assisting with these initiatives.
In a recent article I authored on the Advance Healthcare Network web site, entitled, “Improving Patient Engagement: Top five contact center initiatives for providers”, I outlined 5 areas where the patient service center can play a critical role in assisting providers adhere to all of the initiatives mentioned above.
At the core of these is the concept of increased patient engagement. Sure, healthcare providers are not your typical “customer experience” leader, especially compared to consumer-focused industries like retail and financial services. However, the true value in the customer and patient experience for providers is proven through increased awareness and interaction with patients to avoid future expense.
The customer service revolution is a bit unique in the healthcare industry, and although the motives may be different, many of the strategies taken on by other industries can be mimicked to provide effective solutions for healthcare providers. My top three recommendations are:
- Increased self-service – Interactive voice response (IVR) systems, mobile applications, and online portals can provide patients with various tools to access information they need when and how they want to receive it. Making options for appointment scheduling, prescription refills, procedure follow-up instructions, and other common requests can not only provide patients with the information they need, , but free up contact center resources for more important transactions and requests.
- Multichannel outbound notifications – Appointment reminders and similar outbound notifications are a common staple of the healthcare industry. What is changing is the idea of making these notifications automated and available through various channels. With email, SMS, and social media usage increasing, patients prefer the ability to receive notifications through one or multiple channels.
- Integration and information exchange – Data and information exists is multiple applications – from electronic medical record (EMR) solutions to back-end office applications. Blending this information and data with the communications platform can provide an even more intelligent patient engagement solution. Provide agents with important information about the patient, base routing on previous interactions, and blend interaction data with patient information for even more valuable reporting and forecasting.
These three areas are all focuses for the most customer-centric industries. Although the goals and implementations may differ by industry, each aspect can be used by providers to increase patient engagement in an effort to be successful in a time where the industry is ever changing and challenging.
What unique strategies does your organization have in place to increase patient engagement?
Jennifer Wilson Peevey