Many of the most important experiences you will have with doctors or healthcare workers are in person, whether in the office, the emergency room, the operating room or the clinic. But medical care and how you experience it do not stop when you leave that building. There are follow up appointments that need scheduling, questions about treatment that need asking, medications that need prescribing, symptoms that need reporting and more. Indeed, a large percentage of medical care takes place over the phone. And yet, doctors, nurses and healthcare administrators are so busy with the people who are in-person in front of them that it is often difficult to handle the flood of phone calls coming in. The solution is a healthcare call center. Whether this is an internal call center staffed by nurses, administrators or other workers at the specific hospital or facility or an outsourced call center staffed by agents experienced in medical inquiries, there are a few primary tasks for which healthcare call centers are responsible. Here, a brief guide to the work that happens in healthcare call centers.
While it’s true that a great deal of medical care happens over the phone, it does inevitably lead to in-person meetings between doctors (or other practitioners) and patients. That leaves someone to be responsible for the scheduling of appointments and procedures, which is actually more difficult than it sounds. There will be some instances, say for an annual checkup, in which the patient calls in knowing exactly what type of appointment they are looking to schedule and when they would like to schedule it for. But in other cases, the patient may not have all the information. For example, they may have been told that they need to schedule a procedure for a certain week, but they don’t know which facility it needs to be at, how many follow up appointments must be scheduled, or what they need to do to prepare for the appointment. This is all vital information that the call center agent must be able to give the patient during the call or send along immediately after scheduling. If the agent does not have this information at the time of scheduling and does so incorrectly, it can set off a chain reaction of consequences that result in disrupted schedules at best and faulty medical care at worst.
In a perfect world, anyone who is sick or suffers an injury would be able to see a healthcare provider in person immediately to receive a personalized diagnosis and treatment plan. But there are neither enough providers nor offices for this to be a reality, nor does every sick person have the time and the ability to make it to one. Because of this, people often have to call into their doctor’s offices for medical advice and make a decision about how best to move forward with their care based on that. The people offering medical advice over the phone are typically nurses or nurse practitioners, but those who are seeing patients in the office or hospital often don’t have much time in between appointments to speak with the folks who are calling in. Instead, practitioners typically need to take shifts working the phones or these tasks are outsourced to a separate call center staffed with professionals equipped to offer advice.
Health insurance is complicated, confusing and difficult to understand. When people are dealing with medical issues, their first choice is not always to call the insurance company directly—even if the people working in that call center are qualified and knowledgeable and good at their jobs, there’s a degree of comfort and confidence that people have in their own doctor’s office to know the answers to their questions. Indeed, there needs to be someone in every healthcare office call center who knows the ins and outs of insurance as it relates to the services offered in that particular office.
One of the most important factors in a healthcare call center’s ability to perform these tasks successfully is having a simple call center platform to use, like CallShaper. To learn more about how we can help, request a demo today.