Increasing Patient Volume Through Call Center Technology

June 14, 2010

I laughed the other day when I received an automated voicemail that said, “You have an appointment with…’with your doctor.'”

Not very personal considering they didn’t even go the extra mile to state the name of my physician or the time of the appointment. Lesson learned: those standard voicemails actually matter (especially when they’re a waste of time rather than helpful). Which is why being aware of the latest in call center technology is important to increase your patient volume.

Your healthcare system’s call technology should be making your patients’ lives easier.

Check this out: A study of medical appointments and no-show rates conducted at Johns Hopkins determined that, “Published average show rates (SR) are 58%; young patients and those with low income patients are more likely to not show up. ‘I Forgot’ is the most common reason for a no-show.”

No one wants patient forgetfulness to be a contributing factor to decreased patient volume. Especially when it’s a problem with an easy solution: automated appointment reminders (via text or voicemail).

Here’s a brief checklist to review. How many of these areas are you confident you’re employing the most efficient call center technology to? The communication surrounding these categories should be valuable and convenient to your patients, which are important factors to consistently increase your patient volume.

  • Patient Payment Tracking & Billing
  • Appointment Reminders
  • Office Location/Hours
  • Medical Alerts
  • Prescription Status  & Renewal Reminders
  • Lab Results
  • Annual Checkup Calls
  • Share


    Increasing Patient Volume Through Online Empowerment

    June 9, 2010

    When you work in healthcare, it’s just as important to understand what you cannot offer your patients, as it is to know what you can. To build patient volume, you need to have a greater awareness of your patients’ needs in contrast to what you’re able to fulfill. And in the case of providing emotional support to patients, you can indirectly offer your patients empowerment by directing them to online support groups.

    So, how does this build patient volume? By increasing patient satisfaction.

    It’s proven that online communities benefit patients (some of which may be too sick to leave home) by providing a high level of privacy, intimacy and empowerment in the comfort of their own homes. For patients suffering from rare diseases, it’s possible to connect with others dealing with the same issues.

    Healthcare providers should acquaint their patients with the availability of free online support groups as a way to connect their patients with others in similar situations. While it’s important to communicate that online communities should not be used for medical consultation, it’s a great way to meet the emotional needs of your patients.

    I thought this NY Times article did a great job of conveying the benefits of online patient communities.

    While this is not an exhaustive list, here are patient networks you should become familiar with:

    PatientsLikeMe – Patient network for those with life-changing conditions

    HealthCentral – Clinical resources and networks based on condition

    Inspire – Support groups and recruitment for clinical trials

    CureTogether – Peer connections and progress tracking

    Alliance Health – Portal for a variety for social health networks

    Disaboom – Social network for those living with disabilities

    Ning – A general social networking site, but patients can find and create their own support networks on a topical basis


    Will a Voice of the Customer (VoC) Program Increase Patient Volume??

    June 7, 2010

    A survey by Forrester Research says over 60% of large North American companies now have a voice of the customer (VoC) program. This can also work for hospitals… as long as the information is used to really relate to the patient and we are willing to actually change the way we do business.

    A wise businessperson once told me that if your patient believes that you profoundly understand them you will never hurt for patients or referring physicians. That is the type of place everyone wants to take their business.

    Voice of the customer (VoC) is a term used to describe the in-depth process of capturing a customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions.

    Much has been written about this process, a lot of it is corporate-speak and not particularly helpful, but it starts with the many possible ways to gather the qualitative information –  traditional research techniques like focus groups, or individual interviews, psychographic studies, plain old customer surveys or whatever, etc. You focus on the customers’ experiences with you or competitive alternatives. Insights, not data, are gathered.

    Forrester Research says here that there are six critical pieces of this process

    1. listening
    2. interpreting
    3. reacting
    4. monitoring
    5. culture and alignments
    6. governance and organization

    These last two are where you really make organization changes.

    In hospitals,  your “Would Recommend” score on the CMS data (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Service) tells the story of whether your clinical volumes will increase – no matter how much money you spend on branding or marketing. Read more about managing patient experience.

    As a hospital marketer one of the most important things you should be managing is the patient experience.

    Maybe your marketing team taking the leadership to actually start a formal VoC program is a way to get your whole organization on board with critical patient experience changes.