Three Benefits Partnering with a Hospital Call Center
Nearly all healthcare systems can benefit from offering comprehensive call center services to their patients. Partnerships can deliver 24-hour patient access to care, improved emergency department metrics, and lowered readmission rates, all while ensuring that patients receive needed advice from experienced triage nurses.
Some of the top three benefits of a hospital call center partnership can be: higher organizational efficiency is achieved, costs are contained, growth strategies are developed, and both patients and providers are more satisfied overall, due to the simultaneous increased connectivity and decreased workloads.
1. Partnerships Contribute to Organizational Efficiency
Organizational efficiency is all about finding the most effective way to use the fewest possible resources to achieve a desired goal. It’s an essential factor in organizational effectiveness, and is vital to the healthcare industry, which continually sees increasing operating costs and diminishing revenues.
Perhaps the most practical reason that healthcare systems are outsourcing call center services is cost containment.
While call volume is high, in-house nurse triage makes sense, and can be financially sustainable, simply because the cost per call is low when compared to the overall staffing costs. Unfortunately, however, when call volume decreases, the cost per call for in-house teletriage systems can increase greatly, calling into question the sustainability and long-term profitability of the in-house system.
Outsourcing an in-house nurse call system to a nurse triage call center, however, can help to increase operational and organizational efficiency, especially during hours with traditionally lower call volumes.
2. Future Growth Strategy & Planning
A partnership with an outsourced call center can be integral to nearly any healthcare system’s future growth strategy.
It may be the goal of a healthcare organization to eventually have a full-service, in-house call center, capable of answering any patient query and addressing any question or concern that a caller might have, day or night. Despite having a goal that might one day be attainable, many healthcare organizations simply aren’t equipped to handle this level of volume, due to budgetary or staffing restraints, venue or equipment limitations, or any combination of these or other limiting factors.
These constraints and aspirations are why so many organizations are adopting a hybrid call center model, which is a combination of in-house and outsourced call center services. This hybrid model assists hospitals in several ways, including aiding with cost containment, acting as an interim solution for subsidized future growth, and acting as an emergency backup solution for patient calls.
Emergency Backup Coverage
Ensuring that there’s coverage in place for times when there’s excessive call volume to handle is additionally important. An outsourced call center should be equipped to seamlessly handle call overflow during times of high volume or unplanned staff shortages, and can provide additional levels of phone triage to ensure that patients are receiving adequate levels of triage support and medical care, and are ultimately satisfied with their experience.
3. Increasing Provider & Patient Satisfaction
It’s important that both providers and patients feel satisfied with levels of care being offered, and the way the care is administered. Satisfied patients are much more likely to return for additional care in the future as needed, and satisfaction can help providers feel less overwhelmed and burned out.
It’s not uncommon for providers to become overwhelmed with ever increasing workloads in the 24/7 world of medicine. Becoming overwhelmed can lead to providers becoming frustrated, unhappy, and ultimately burned out, which then translates into poor interactions with patients.
Utilizing a medical call center to alleviate some of this burden can mitigate provider burnout rate, which can lead to increased provider and patient satisfaction. The medical call center can decrease or completely remove the “24/7 access” portion from a provider’s responsibilities, which can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool for providers.
Perhaps one of the most (if not the most) influential factors of patient satisfaction is access to care.
Buyers, users, customers, and patients all want and expect immediate access to nearly everything, and medical care is no exception. Providing this level of access and care can be both difficult and costly for hospitals and healthcare organizations, and when this level and access of care isn’t provided, it can leave the patient feeling less impowered, engaged, and satisfied.
Another significant contributing factor to patient satisfaction is the quality of the relationship that the patient has with their medical provider. Patients will often expect to be engaged in the decision making stages involving their care. Patients who feel like they haven’t been heard or taken seriously tend to feel less confident with the care that they receive, and will often consider the experience negative, even if the final outcome was favorable.
Satisfaction & The Bottom Line
While no healthcare organization wants a patient to have a negative experience (for any reason), there’s another, newer factor regarding patient satisfaction that needs attention.
Since the inception of value-based purchasing, the definition of a “successful patient” has been redefined; now, 30% of the overall quality of care is attributed to patient satisfaction, meaning that patient satisfaction survey scores directly impact an organization’s bottom line.
The shift to pay-for-performance also means that reimbursements are tied to the quality of care that’s delivered. Hospitals that provide a higher quality of care than their peers will receive reimbursement incentives, and hospitals that provide a lower quality of care will be penalized.
This, perhaps, is the most beneficial aspect of partnering with a medical call center. Providing a positive experience for both patients and providers can drastically improve overall patient satisfaction and outcomes, leading to a higher overall quality of care and related financial impacts.