6 Ways the Healthcare Industry Can Take Advantage of Different Communication Technologies
by Shaundalee Carvalho | Published On December 5, 2022
It’s common knowledge that technological advances are a big deal in healthcare. Advances in medical technology mean that new tools and treatments are constantly being developed and improving the way that patients receive care. But there are also less obvious ways that technology can benefit the healthcare industry.
Communication and customer service technologies, while not directly involved with medical treatments, can indirectly improve the experiences of both patients and healthcare workers. These technologies – contact centers, CRM systems, and more – can create efficiencies and optimize communications with patients. But use cases extend beyond direct communication with patients. For example, hospital foundation fundraising initiatives can benefit by taking full advantage of available communication technologies; Surrey Hospitals Foundation made use of cloud contact center technology this fall to operate their annual Good Health Telethon and raised a total of $312,575 for youth mental health!
Read on to learn some of the ways that healthcare providers can take advantage of communication technologies, and how each can provide benefits.
Automate Reminders with Outbound Notification Tools
Automated outbound notification tools can be used for many purposes in healthcare: appointment reminders; public health campaigns for flu shots or other vaccinations; pre-appointment instructions; after-care and follow-up information; and more.
- Reduce No-Shows Without Wasting Workers’ Time – Patient no-shows are a major source of inefficiency in healthcare, with the Canadian Medical Association Journal reporting that the average no-show rate is about 20%. One traditional method of combatting no-shows involves contacting patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. While this may help reduce no-shows, it also requires an extra resource to take the time to do it. However, using automated notification technology has the same impact on no-show rates without taking up a healthcare worker’s time. This ensures that healthcare workers are not being underutilized due to no-shows, nor is their time being used inefficiently for reminder calls.
- Reduce Patient Wait Times – In an effort to reduce inefficiencies caused by no-shows, some health centers intentionally overbook patients, expecting that some will not show up. This ensures that care resources are not being underutilized, but it results in long wait times when patients do show up for their scheduled appointments. Additionally, a waiting room full of not-so-patient patients can overwhelm staff and cause unnecessary stress. Implementing automated outbound appointment reminders can prevent this by reducing no-shows, eliminating the need to overbook patients.
- Provide Complete and Consistent Information to Patients – Automated appointment reminders can help ensure consistent, high-quality service for every patient by providing standard messages for each appointment type that include all the important pre-appointment instructions they need. This approach keeps patients informed and prevents missed instructions due to human error and forgetfulness. Similarly, post-appointment notifications can be sent containing information regarding medication or other follow-up care.
Automate Schedule Creation with a Workforce Management Integration
In a contact center, a workforce management integration can automate staff schedules by using historical data to predict future demand and scheduling staff accordingly, taking into account requested breaks, vacations, and more.
- Ensure Efficient Staffing Levels – Using historical demand to forecast future staffing needs helps to ensure that hospital contact centers are appropriately staffed at all times. That is, resources won’t be wasted on overstaffing, nor will patients have to spend an excessive amount of time waiting due to understaffing.
- Save Managers’ Time – Creating staff schedules can itself be a time-consuming and inconvenient task. Doing it manually also means the schedule is subject to human error, like forgetting to account for the vacation that one of your staff members requested. Automating schedule creation means that accurate, optimized schedules can be created instantly, saving the time of whoever is in charge of the task and allowing their time to be used for other things.
Improve Knowledge Distribution with a CRM Integration
Depending on the CRM system and the contact center you use, integrating the two can provide a number of different features. For example, contextual information about a patient can be automatically screen popped to an agent as soon as a call comes in. Activity records can also be automatically inserted and filled out, with links to recordings and transcripts and other information about the interaction. Click-to-call features allow agents to call patients directly from their contact view in a CRM system.
- Increase Resolution Speed – With information about a caller being provided instantly and automatically, contact center users spend less time asking questions to identify the person and their reason for calling. This means that patients’ inquiries can be resolved and appointments can be booked sooner. Additionally, the auto-insertion of activity records means that agents spend less time in wrap-up creating records regarding the interaction.
- Eliminate Misdials – Since click-to-call capabilities allow users to call patients directly from their contact view in the CRM, users can see all the information about a contact before they call them. This means they can see exactly who they’re about to call and don’t have to worry about accidentally dialing the wrong number.
Enable Self-Service with IVR and Bots
Self-serve tools, such as self-serve IVRs and chat bots, can allow people reaching out to a healthcare provider to resolve their own inquiries, without the assistance of an agent.
- Save Time on Simple or Routine Inquiries – Not all inquiries require an agent’s help. For example, if a patient is calling a health center to ask for a doctor’s hours or the results of a recent lab test, the staff member handling the call is spending time that could instead be used for patient care. Implementing self-serve tools like chatbots or a self-serve IVR allows patients to find routine information themselves, leaving staff more time to focus on more complicated inquiries.
- Extend Service Hours – Self-serve tools, like chatbots or self-serve IVRs, can provide assistance outside of a health center’s regular staffed contact hours. This means that hours of service are extended, improving access to care for those who are unable to reach out during regular business hours.
Implement New Communication Channels with Omnichannel Contact Center Capabilities
Modern contact centers are about more than just voice. Organizations can add channels like email, instant message, SMS, and more. They can also enable features like callback, voicemails in queue, and position in queue announcements.
- Provide Greater Access to Care – Adding new channels to a call center provides greater flexibility to patients, family members, and anyone else who may need to reach out. This is especially important to those for whom calling is not a desirable option, such as those with hearing difficulties or social anxiety around making calls. It allows them to reach out in the way that works best for them, ultimately improving access to care.
- Improve Convenience for Patients – A callback option allows people waiting in a call queue to leave a phone number and be called back when they get to the first position in queue. This provides a convenient alternative to staying on the phone to wait the whole time.
Learn More About Your Patient Satisfaction Levels with Surveys
Surveys can be used to gather feedback from patients at the end of an interaction.
- Improve Patient Care – The first step to solving any problem is identifying it. As patients are surveyed at the end of each interaction with a healthcare provider, insights into the provider’s levels of care and service are being gathered. These insights enable providers to understand any issues or concerns patients have so that they can address them as soon as possible.
Technology in healthcare is about more than just medical advances. It’s also about how we communicate with patients to improve experiences for both patients and healthcare workers. To learn more about how communication technologies can improve the healthcare industry, check out What are the REAL costs of no-shows to Healthcare Organizations?