Healthcare Call Center Conference – 2019 Key Takeaways

A few of our team members had the opportunity to attend the annual Healthcare Call Center Conference (HCCC 2019) this past week in Atlanta, Georgia. From sessions on access and affordability to conversations about social determinants of health, one thing was clear: the healthcare call center continues to be the center of action. Below are our top takeaways and key learnings from the 2019 Healthcare Call Center Conference.

  1. The move from HEALTHCARE to HEALTH. Addressing patient health means more than just providing healthcare specific services. What is commonly known as the Social Determinants of Health is a growing concern among healthcare providers, and rightfully so. Many times, the main reason why a patient is unhealthy isn’t because of a poor patient experience, or price transparency, or a lack of virtual visits and so on… rather it can be things like not having shelter or adequate food. Providers need to be able to help solve these issues in order to improve the health of their patients, especially when it comes to Medicaid and Medicare. Obviously, since call centers are often the front lines of healthcare, much of the impetus is on the them to figure out ways to connect patients with services to address these social determinants. One easy example is enabling call center agents to schedule transportation services for a patient. Booking an appointment is pointless if there is no way for the patient to get there!
  2. Omni-channel access is the future of the contact center. When we take stock of the macro shifts that are occurring demographically and technologically, here’s what we see: Millennials are starting to enter middle age, and they (and the following generations) are increasingly mobile-addicted. The vast majority of healthcare communication interactions in the future will be made without direct human involvement. Chat-bots, online scheduling, price transparency, wearables, and so on… Contact centers need to be adopting technologies and strategies now that will prepare them to meet the needs of the rapidly evolving consumer. Aligning strategically to have an omni-channel access model – where patients have a similar experience regardless of how they access your system – is one of the key ways to do this.
  3. Call center teams are critical to driving better health. Call center agents are integral to getting patients to the right place, whether that be a primary care appointment or a referral to a specialist. Now with social determinants of health getting involved, the time it takes to triage the patients need and guide them to the right care is only growing. Thankfully, this is exactly what guided search is meant to do – quickly and effectively guide call center agents through the scheduling process to find the best match provider and appointment based on care need. Technology solutions can augment agent performance and enable them to focus on those patients who need more in-depth help.
  4. The effects of burnout on the call center. Provider burnout has been rampant over the last several years, and unfortunately, those feelings are starting to make way through the rest of the healthcare team, now to front office staff and the call center. With call center agents sometimes handling hundreds of calls a day, some calls lasting up to 20 minutes each, it’s clear that the burden on agents is real and must be addressed.
  5. How to balance consumer convenience with physician preferences. While it’s no surprise to anyone that patients are craving more and more flexibility and convenience, we mustn’t forget that physicians have preferences, too. Various stakeholders from across the industry weighed in on the topic throughout the conference. Since this is our bread and butter, we have a thing or two to say about it. We think digital care coordination is the solution, where you can automate provider scheduling protocols and business rules, guide patients to the right care, and schedule them according to their preferences. If this piques your curiosity, good, because we’ve got more in this recent post, Call Center FAQs.

We are happy to be a partner to healthcare call centers around the country as they continue to play a key role in patient care and satisfaction. To learn more about our work with healthcare call centers, download our free guide.