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


    Understanding Bloggers Will Increase Your Patient Volume

    April 29, 2010

    Bloggers have become an extremely influential source of information dissemination. Developing a relationship with bloggers will increase engagements with your brand translating to increased patient volume.

    I recently attended a presentation from Rob Müller of Roche Diagnostics about “Lessons from a Blogger Summit.” A summary of Rob’s information is below.

    A blogger starts writing because they feel passionately or have a strong interest in a specific target. This means they have a vested interest in what they are choosing to write about. Bloggers’ readers are a direct link to your customers. Your customers are selecting what bloggers are credible and who are not.

    Most importantly, bloggers are here to stay. This is not a passing fad. Definitely the role of social media and bloggers will evolve, but it will not go away. Tapping into this influential group increases engagements with your brand translating into more volume.

    To engage with a blogger to increase your volume, it is important to understand what bloggers are and are not.

    Bloggers are not:

    • Professional journalists
    • Accountable (except to their readership)
    • Physicians or healthcare professionals
    • In it for the $$$$
    • “Off the record”…Ever
    • Billboards or any other advertising
    • Easily swayed
    • On your side (and this is a good thing)
    • Going Away

    Bloggers are:

    • Extremely involved
    • Passionate
    • Conversant they know their stuff
    • Crusaders
    • Caregivers
    • Community Organizers
    • Opinionated/skeptical
    • Insular difficult for them to see the big picture
    • Everywhere

    Develop a plan to develop relationships with influential bloggers the same way you would with traditional journalists. Look at it this way. They are already talking about you. Would you like to be talking to them!


    Do Online Screenings Actually Drive Patient Volume?

    April 19, 2010

    YES! Online screening rocks!

    I get asked all the time if online risk assessments lead to increases in clinical volume. I am very enthusiastic about the short-term and long-term effects of a comprehensive digital strategy and that should always include online risk assessments.


    • online screening can drive measurable results
    • it can change marketshare- and very few marketing tactics can do that
    • it can reposition you to take the leadership in early detection and wellness- a very meaningful differentiation to women in their late 40’s to early 60’s
    • it takes less personnel to administrate and less money to promote than traditional volume drivers like physician referral programs
    • the results can be immediate – there is very little lag time from startup to patient admissions
    • the results actually build – meaning you will make more money from your efforts in years 2 and 3 than you did from year 1

    Still it is a shock to me that many hospital marketers still don’t believe in online screenings. Most of these programs are sold to service line leaders, but marketers should be spending media budgets to execute online risk assessment programs.

    A favorite of mine is the HealthAware program from Byrne Healthcare .  This program and ones like them are not cheap, but the ROI is fast and measurable. You gotta love that.

    My advice: If you are not doing online early detection, start today.


    Don’t Think Social Media is a Tool to Increase Patient Volume… Think Again

    April 16, 2010

    Social media isn’t a fad it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. If you think you can’t use it to increase your patient volume look at the information below and tell me honestly that you wouldn’t like to be a part of this conversation. put together a video which highlights this fundamental shift. The video is great and the information is summarized below.

    Years to reach 50 million users:

    • Radio=38
    • Tv=13
    • Internet=4
    • Ipod=3
    • Facebook=added 100 million users in less than 9 months
    • iPod applications downloads hit 1 billion in 9 months


    • If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest.
    • The fastest growing segment on FB is 55-65 year old females

    Mobile Usage

    • 80% if twitter usage is on mobile devices
    • People update anywhere anytime
    • Imagine what it means for bad customer experiences?


    • Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world
    • More than 100,000,000 videos


    • There are over 200,000,000 blogs
    • 54% of bloggers post content or tweet daily

     Word of Mouth=World of Mouth

    • 25% search results for the worlds top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content
    •  34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands
    • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
    • Only 14% trust advertisements

    Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators, and content providers than traditional advertisers. You can too!


    12 Blogger Do’s & Don’ts to Increase Your Patient Volume

    April 15, 2010

    Social media allows you to fish where the fish are. By delivering value messages about your organization to bloggers you will increase your patients volumes.

    Rob Müller from Roche Diagnostics gave a great presentation about the Do’s & Don’ts to developing relationships with bloggers.

    Rob discusses how social media is here to stay and if you bury your head in the sand, you will get your butt kicked. Bloggers are having conversations about your company everyday, so participation in the conversation allows you to have some impact on that conversation.

    About Bloggers

    Bloggers are people first, patients second, bloggers third and community fourth. If you can keep all these things straight they may also be a customer.

    If you are new to blogger relationships, don’t go into the minefield without map. Follow these three easy steps:

    • Contact someone who knows the field (an expert blogger in that area)
    • Apply the same rules of traditional media relations
    • Follow Rob’s easy blogger do’s and don’ts

    Blogger Do’s

    • Treat them professionally
    • Be loose and conversational, but authoritative
    • Bone up on social media
    • Know blogging/web 2.0 terms

    Blogger Don’ts

    • Talk down to them or joke about not being real journalists
    • Speak in sound bites and corporate speak
    • Blithely talk about social media
    • Get defensive and hide
    • Argue with bloggers, they always have the last word
    • Succumb to the urge to respond to bloggers grumblings
    • Believe (1) out to get you, (2) true allies (3) will keep anything between you and them

    Bloggers are your friend and can be a strong ally to increasing your patient volume. Use the same rules which apply to traditional journalists, but understanding the differences will be critical to your success.


    To Build Profitable Clinical Volumes, You Must Understand Health Care Reform Impact

    April 14, 2010

    Health Care Reform Insights From Harvard Business School Faculty – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

    If you are going to do the radical things you must do to actually drive measurable Contribution Margin into your hospitals, you will have to better understand health reform legislation.

    1) You can only be credible talking to your senior leaders if you are informed

    2) You must begin modeling what is and what is not going to be profitable and then who and what you should target

    This post from Harvard Business Review will take about 10 minutes to read. It is a good start in your understanding of the current situation and your thinking about the future of building profitable clinical volumes in your health system.


    Three Ways Text Messages Can Increase Patient Volume

    April 13, 2010

    86% of the U.S. population own a cell phone and the typical mobile subscriber sends and receives more text messages than phone calls. You can use text message campaigns to develop a relationship with patients, exchange information and promote your benefits which will result in an increase in patient volume.

    HealthLeaders looks at Three Ways Text Messages Can Improve Healthcare Marketing.

    Fundraising Campaigns

    Not only is it ideal from a donor’s perspective (it’s much easier to give money when you don’t have to enter your credit card number), but it can be immediately attributed to the campaign ROI.

    Community Education

    Text campaigns may also prove to be an effective way to promote healthy behavior in your hospital’s community and encourage preventative care.

    The mobile phone is transforming how health services are delivered,” said Dr. Frederick Muench, clinical psychologist and founder of Mobile Health Interventions, in a release. “There is now substantial evidence that text messaging programs are effective adjunctive and standalone interventions for a range of problem behaviors.”

    Helpful Information

    Lastly, Truth On Call, a paid service that rolled out in January, allows cell phone users to text medical questions to a panel of doctors, according to the New York Times “Bits Blog”. The initiative is not only aimed at patients, but also journalists, financial analysts, pharma executives, and other doctors.

    “Information is being exchanged very, very quickly in people’s personal and professional lives, but healthcare has yet to tap into the feed,” Rosina Samadani, Truth On Call founder, told The Times. “This is a way for folks to get answers from thousands of physicians within minutes or hours.”

    Now is the time for you to try a text message campaign. I know it seems daunting, but start small and watch it grow.