Why People Add The Most Value To The Patient Access Process


Learn the five attributes of an exceptional patient access call center.

Hospitals, health systems, and multi-specialty practice groups are busy places—often too busy to effectively handle the high volume of calls that comes in throughout the day. That’s why many are turning to remote call centers to improve patients’ ability to connect—whether for scheduling, information, or other forms of support.

Of course, not all call centers are created equal, and given the powerful role patient access plays in your overall success, it’s important to choose wisely.

It makes sense to select a call center with:

  • Healthcare experience 
  • Wait times of less than 60 seconds 
  • 99% routing accuracy 
  • An infrastructure that supports scalability
  • A focus on security

These “must haves” will help you weed out call centers that can’t offer adequate service. Then, you can narrow your search for an exceptional call center: one that differentiates itself with its people.

Recognizing Exceptional Service

There are many healthcare call centers that have staff who are proficient on the phone system, able to follow a script, and who can complete calls within a specified timeframe. There are far fewer concerned with selecting individuals with an innate ability to be empathetic and compassionate. Call centers that invest extra time evaluating potential staff, and subsequently cultivating their skills so they become stellar representatives for your organization, are the exception. Here’s what you should look for in a best-practice call center:

  1. Representatives who convey empathy, patience, and encouragement. You need a patient access team whose efforts will reflect well on your organization; that means being knowledgeable and efficient, but also warm, supportive, and calm under pressure. Ask to “test-drive” potential call centers – you can listen-in on calls to see how conversations are handled.
  2. A focus on continuous quality improvement. Exceptional call centers conduct regular, ongoing training for all staff, regardless of experience levels. Calls are routinely monitored to assess both performance in following workflows and protocols, as well as interactions with patients. Because high morale among staff is essential to providing quality customer service, representatives should score their own performance and take the lead in improvement initiatives, while managers celebrate successes and encourage ongoing progress.
  3. A commitment to customization. Each healthcare organization has its own style of conducting business, and the best call centers learn and incorporate those preferences. Becoming an authentic extension of each organization requires proactive communication, including regular on-site visits to the client. A constant drive to stay connected and make the healthcare organization proud of how they are being represented is a hallmark of an exceptional call center.
  4. A shared vernacular. Make sure your call center employs representatives who fluently speak the languages needed to serve your patients. Caller satisfaction is dependent on staff who can put patients at ease and meet their needs. Translation services can be helpful, but are not a substitute for a bilingual representative.
  5. A culture of mutual respect, encouragement, and appreciation. People are a call center’s most valuable asset, and staff must believe they are valued to facilitate best performance and prevent turnover. Evaluate potential call centers’ turnover rate and schedule an on-site visit to gain a sense of how representatives view their work.
People are a call center’s most valuable asset, and staff must believe they are valued to facilitate best performance and prevent turnover.

Healthcare call centers can increase efficiency and lower costs while improving the quality of service you provide to patients. The key is to select a call center that will go above-and-beyond to make sure patients have a good experience and continue their relationship with you. Take the time to evaluate potential call center partners—the pay-off will be worth your investment of time and effort.

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