Alleviate Healthcare Staffing Shortages with More Efficient Contact Centers

min read
Alleviate Healthcare Staffing Shortages with More Efficient Contact Centers

The impact of the pandemic, worker burnout, and the Great Resignation have converged to create critical staffing shortages throught the healthcare industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the healthcare sector has lost nearly half a million workers since February 2020. Morning Consult, a survey research company, says that 18% of healthcare workers have quit since the pandemic began.

Akin Demehin, director of policy at the American Hospital Association (AHA), said this about the staffing shortage: “I suspect if you asked most hospital leaders at this point what one of their biggest worries is as they think about their organizations now and in the future, workforce would be at the top of almost all of those lists.” 

In addition to straining workers, the healthcare staffing shortage has created poor experiences for patients. This is problematic since expectations for the patient experience are at an all-time high. In fact, 82% of patients say quality customer service is the most important factor they consider when choosing care.

Patient experiences are especially lacking in the contact center — phone calls have spiked due to patients getting back to normal care and rescheduling appointments put off during the pandemic and there are now fewer agents available to answer them. This is a major issue since a phone call is often a patient’s first point of contact with a healthcare provider. In fact, 88% of healthcare appointments are scheduled via phone calls. 

If your healthcare organization’s contact center is strained from staffing shortages, there are several steps you can take to do more with less. With a conversation intelligence solution, you can improve the efficiency of your contact center and increase appointment conversion rates. Read on to learn how.

Intelligently Route Calls to the Best Agent or Office

One of the most frustrating parts of the call experience is going through unnecessary transfers. According to Invoca’s recent Buyer Experience Research Report, 79% of people say they’re rerouted at least once when they call a healthcare provider. This creates friction and makes people less likely to become patients. When callers aren’t transferred, you have a much higher chance of getting them to schedule an appointment. 

Your team is already facing staffing shortages — putting callers through unnecessary transfers will only put more strain on your agents and increase the total amount of time each caller is engaged with your contact center. 

To ensure that callers are immediately sent to the best agent to meet their needs, leading healthcare providers are using intelligent call routing. Solutions like Invoca allow you to identify which marketing channel, digital ad, search keyword, and website page drove each call. It can then use this digital intent data to route the caller to the best agent to handle their inquiry. For example, calls driven by the insurance and billing page would be automatically routed to a billing support specialist. Calls driven by “schedule an appointment” search ads can be routed to the appriopriate contact center agent or the practitioner that’s nearest to the caller’s geographic location.

Reduce After-Call Work by Integrating Conversation Intelligence With Your CRM

After-call work is the amount of time your agents spend post-call logging the contact’s information, their reason for calling, the contact outcome, and any necessary follow-up items. Call center agents often use a CRM, such as Salesforce, to record this information. 

Every minute your agents spend doing after-call work is a minute they could be using to assist other callers who may be waiting on hold. But, at the same time, it’s critical that your call center collects all of the relevant information about each caller. It allows you to track the effectiveness of your call center, report on key KPIs, and personalize the journey to meet the needs of your existing patients.  

To reduce after-call work while still capturing detailed data about each caller, leading healthcare providers use conversation intelligence. Invoca captures and sends call data such as lead source, demographic information, and call outcomes to Salesforce and associates this data with the contact or lead. Invoca’s website tag also captures the online patient journey data associated with each call and places it in the relevant record. If there isn’t an existing contact or lead, a new one is automatically created. This automates a significant portion of after-call activities and allows your agents to spend more time on the phones assisting patients. 

Personalize Call Experiences With Invoca’s Salesforce Integration

Invoca’s Salesforce integration also helps your agents have more impactful conversations with patients. Invoca delivers pre-call data about each caller’s service interest or campaign interaction to your agents via a screenpop or whisper message before they answer the call. Your agents can use this information to anticipate the caller’s needs and tailor the conversation accordingly. This also decreases call times, as your agents are able to pull up the necessary information before the conversation begins.  

How University Hospitals uses Invoca’s Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration to personalize routing 

To improve the patient experience, University Hospitals connected Invoca conversation intelligence data to Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This integration allowed them to send each patient directly to their preferred specialist, without bouncing them around in the call center first. As a result, they cut wait times in half and increased conversion rates by 300%. Learn about this feature from Noah Brooks in the video below:

Check out the full University Hospitals case study here.

Identify Friction in the Online Patient Journey and Reduce Unnecessary Calls

Not all patients prefer to call to schedule an appointment — some would rather handle it on your website. It’s important to ensure that you’re providing a seamless online experience so that patients can schedule their appointments the way they want to. This will not only increase patient satisfaction, but it will also reduce unnecessary calls, ensuring wait times stay low. 

To identify issues that are driving unnecessary calls, healthcare providers use conversation intelligence. With this solution, you can quickly identify “problem” pages that are causing patients to call when they’d rather schedule an appointment online. You can then tap into the phone conversations to fully understand the issues. Conversation intelligence solutions like Invoca automatically record and transcribe every phone conversation, so you can hear exactly what your patients are saying when they call you. 

Don’t want to sift through your transcriptions manually? No problem — you can use Invoca’s Signal AI to automatically detect certain words or phrases that you’ve deemed important. For example, you could set up a signal that identifies when patients ask questions about insurance coverage or when they mention an issue with your website. This will allow you to quickly address key issues on your webpages.

Sometimes, however, you may not know what words or phrases to look for. There may be issues impacting your patients that you haven’t detected yet. To identify topics and trends you may not have known to look for, you can use Invoca’s Signal Discovery. This feature uses machine learning to discover macro and micro trends that are happening in your patients’ phone conversations. As a result, you can detect new patient issues and barriers to conversion at scale, without having to listen to call recordings to find them.

How University Hospitals uses Invoca IVRs to divert callers to online scheduling and reduce call volumes

University Hospitals recently set up an Invoca IVR that helps people easily schedule an appointment online when wait times at locations are high. When the caller selects the prompt from the IVR, they’re instantly sent a link to the online scheduling platform. This improves the user experience of somebody that was on the phone when they didn't actually want to talk to somebody. It also improves efficiency on University Hospitals’ end by shortening queues at the call center. 

University Hospitals is also using an IVR to divert people calling in for directions so that they’re instantly texted a Google Maps link to the location. This further reduces call volumes and allows agents to focus on scheduling appointments.

How BJC Healthcare uses Invoca to identify patient FAQs and give its chatbots the answers

John Odom and BJC Healthcare use conversation intelligence to identify gaps in the patient experience. Insights from Invoca uncovered common questions callers were asking that the chatbots were not able to address. They were then able to give their chatbots the answers to these questions so that patients didn’t have to make unnecessary calls if they preferred to schedule an appointment online. This freed up their contact center and allowed agents to focus on having more meaningful conversations with patients. Check out the video clip below to learn more:

Follow Up With Your Highest Value Missed Calls First

Understaffed contact centers can be costly if left unchecked. According to our research, 59% of callers will hang up within 10 minutes of being placed on hold and 29% of calls to healthcare organizations never get answered. This can cause a significant impact on your appointments and revenue.

When you use conversation intelligence in your healthcare contact center, you can get full visibility into unanswered calls, allowing you to uncover hidden issues like ineffective or malfunctioning IVRs, or a phone system that’s dropping calls. Once you know why calls aren’t being answered you can address the issues and reduce the volume of unanswered calls.

As you may know, an inbox full of generic “missed sales call” alerts isn’t particularly helpful. That’s why Invoca’s solution uses digital intent data and IVR press data to create a list of the calls that were most likely to be appointment opportunities. Your agents can then re-engage your highest value missed calls first, saving them time and ensuring their follow-ups make the biggest possible impact. 

Do you know how much your missed appointment calls are costing you? Check out the quick, 2-minute Cost of Missed Calls for Healthcare Calculator — it’s probably more than you think. 

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