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The Latest Hospital Digital Marketing Articles

GreyMatters is your hospital digital marketing guide, with articles on hospital digital marketing best practices, trends, updates and more.

5 Trends in Hospital Contact Centers

Jun 28, 2024

This article was written by Jessica Levco, who covered the Annual Healthcare Call & Contact Center Conference held in Atlanta, GA in early June, 2024.

photo of call center operatorsRecently, our very own Kathy Divis, President of Greystone.Net, was asked to moderate a panel at the 33rd Annual Healthcare Contact Center Conference about the hottest topics in the contact center industry. Panelists included: Melissa Shipp, vice president of digital experience at OSF Healthcare; Jonnita Pleasant, director of patient access at Baylor College of Medicine; and Ben Schilens, chief customer officer at Orbita.

Let’s dive into the discussion:

The rise of self-service

Panelists noted that patients prefer self-service options for resolving issues and getting information. A recent Gartner survey found that 70% of customers are using self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey. Contact center managers are investing in user-friendly portals, chatbots and other digital tools to empower patients and streamline interactions.

“Self-service is the direction our industry is going in,” says Schilens. “There are cases where patients will need to speak to someone, but the more you can do from a self-service perspective is going to help your organization in the long run.”

The importance of workforce management

Despite the rise of self service, panelists stressed the importance of effective workforce management to navigate the complex landscape of patient interactions across various channels. This includes having dedicated teams to monitor call volumes, track agent performance and ensure seamless transitions between self-service and agent-assisted interactions.

For example, at Baylor College of Medicine, Pleasant manages two employees who are dedicated to looking at modules all day to let her know everything from how many calls are coming into each specialty to how many items are in Epic’s work queue.

“Your workforce management team should function like air traffic control,” Pleasant says. “If you have 500 calls coming in each day and you’re trying to manage your team to manage those calls, you need workforce management. With all the technology that we see around us, we need to be able to see what's coming in and how do we measure it.”

AI's role in personalization and efficiency

The panel discussed how AI can be used to personalize patient experiences and improve call center efficiency. This includes using algorithms to surface relevant information for patients, identify potential health risks and streamline administrative tasks for agents.

But Shipp encouraged the audience not to get lost in all the buzz that AI can bring.

“It’s important for you all to become experts and do your research on what AI means for your organization,” Shipp says. “There are different layers to it. Ask yourself: What am I trying to solve for? What do I need from a strategy perspective? So many vendors will tell you that they have AI in their platform. That’s great, but if you don’t have the right use case for it, it might not solve the problem you have.”

Measuring and demonstrating value

Contact center managers are increasingly focused on measuring and demonstrating the value they bring to their organizations. Key metrics discussed included first-call resolution, customer satisfaction and the impact of self-service on reducing no-shows and increasing revenue. Panelists emphasized the importance of aligning call center goals with the overall strategic goals of the organization.

Strategic goal alignment was how Pleasant got a “seat at the table.”

“You’ve got to know the goals of your organization,” Pleasant says. “You’ve got to know the big goal and make sure your goals align with it — and then, present data to show that it does.”

Building strategic partnerships with vendors

Divis told attendees to think of vendors as “solution partners” and something they should pick carefully.

The panel highlighted the importance of building strong partnerships with technology vendors. Contact center managers need to communicate their needs and challenges to vendors to make sure that the technology they implement is tailored to their needs.

“If you can’t tell your vendors what you need, they’re going to sell you what they want,” Pleasant says. “You’ve got to do a gap analysis. You have to know and build yearly what you're going to need so that when you come to the table with a vendor, you can say, ‘We need this in the next two years, but in the next five years, we’re looking at this.’”