The move to digitize and advance call center technology has been a long time coming.
Data from Aberdeen shows that even back in 2018, around 36% of all U.S. call centers used cloud technology in various forms: Software as a Service, private cloud, hybrid and others. The events of 2020—especially the global COVID pandemic and the rise of remote services—have put medical call center services at the forefront of the healthcare industry.
Mounting pressure on healthcare infrastructure and the need to drastically cut costs are pushing various institutions to consider technological solutions. According to Forbes and polls by Interactions LLC in 2020, the top three factors in need of improvement were quality of the customer experience, cost savings, and top-line revenue, respectively cited by 53%, 48%, and 39% of companies surveyed.
Customer interactions ranked as the number one consideration among polled companies (53%), leading us directly to the question of call center improvements. Cloud technologies and elements of Artificial Intelligence are poised perfectly to solve many of the issues medical institutions are facing today. Across the U.S. market, Zendesk reports that 20% of all customer requests are likely to be handled by AI-powered software by 2022.
So, what are the advantages to moving call centers to the cloud, introducing AI and other tech elements? Here’s just a fraction of the benefits to employing healthcare call center software:
- Reduced expenses
- Increased efficiency and speed
- Drastically reduced chance of human error
- CRM elements and tools for patient interaction management
- Integration of analytical tools
- Easier staff and shift management (through automated planning)
Beyond improving existing processes and cutting down on staffing, automated medical call center services can use predictive analytics to allow hospitals to foresee what procedures, assistance, and support patients need before any medical incidents even occur.
When talking about the digital transformation of call centers, Utpal Mangla, VP and Senior Partner in IBM Services notes how the entire phenomenon of old-school call centers is likely to disappear in the future: “AI is transforming the call center. The whole concept of a ‘call center’ will automate. So this solution will remove the concept of calling directly into call centers. Mobile phones and digital tools will provide support on predictive intents before a call is even needed.”
Medical Call Center Software
The variety of medical software currently in existence is staggering. Even a short list opens up a window to a whole new world of possibilities:
- Healthcare diagnostic software
- Medical databases
- Billing and scheduling systems for hospitals
- Electronic health record (EHR) programs
- Imaging and visualization programs
- Digital systems for drug prescriptions
- Hospital staff and administrative management software
- Surgical and patient care assistance software (usually AI-powered)
And much, much more..
However, the breakthrough, game-changing technology for healthcare communication and medical call center software since 2017 has been chatbots. While other industries have adopted automated tools such as chatbots years ago—especially in sales and marketing—medical organizations are just discovering the incredible efficiency chatbots provide.
Whether it’s checking the symptoms of disease, inquiring about medication, or scheduling an appointment, patients can get answers and make arrangements 24/7 at the speed of a keystroke. And the best part is all these things can be done even if no doctor or administrator is currently available. Wait times are cut down, patients receive faster care, and lives may even be saved in the process.
The call center software open source nature provides endless possibilities for upgrading your client interaction platform over time. Open source code accessible to new potential developers lets the healthcare software industry grow as a whole.
Medical call centers powered by automation and artificial intelligence can deploy numerous tools:
- Chatbots that can streamline call center capabilities and shorten queue times
- Multi-language capabilities that can support customers regardless of geography
- Automated 24/7 patient interactions with virtually no downtime - perfect for emergencies and night shifts
- Smart prioritization of patient needs (aka digital triage)
Healthcare call center software is reaching new technological heights as well, proving that even improvements in the “boring” aspects of medical infrastructure can provide incredible benefits to healthcare organizations and businesses.
In fact, the first medical call center fully powered by artificial intelligence debuted in 2019. Healthcare Digital reported that a private medical company with elite clinics in London and Manchester launched a cutting-edge autonomous call center to handle customer requests and manage the customer experience; the call center operates on an entirely new level, with CRM functionality and predictive elements.
The AI-powered system completely removed human call handlers and directly connected patients with doctors by referencing a central database. It provided new advantages for patient interaction management and medical care itself: real-time medical analysis, doctor location-tracking, and estimated time of arrival for patients and medical staff. Furthermore, the whole process was simplified for clients: the only action needed was to log into the system and choose what type of assistance is needed.
“We are incredibly proud to have developed a pioneering system that has distilled the knowledge and skill required to run a mobile urgent care service. Our aim was to take human error and delay out of the equation and to use experience to enhance performance so we could model the behavior of the best call handlers to optimize case management.”
— Dr. Charles Levinson, founder of the company.
Call Center Database Design
Call center database design is an important part of implementing technology. Any healthcare manager, medical official, or business owner has to keep in mind that choosing the correct technology—and a suitable technological partner—is a critical factor for successfully bringing your medical institution into the digital age.
Database development is critical to operating a healthcare facility, as virtually every system of a smart hospital or digital hospital relies on a database. Patient records, contact information, administrative data, and much more is constantly referenced by your software system to supply staff and patients with the needed information and functionality.
This leads to the important decision of choosing a technological stack to unfold your digital system on, as well as knowing what type of software partner to engage so that both your medical databases and your entire digital communication infrastructure performs at 100%.
If you’re still unsure which stack to build your medical call center on, ask yourself a few of these questions to narrow it down:
- What are your long-term business/organizational goals and pain points? What are the most pressing problems you’d like to solve?
- What type of medical call center software functions would be most useful for your organization?
- What are the top needs of your patients?
- What current considerations can limit your business/organizational ambitions? Is it budgeting, growth, staff limitations, or something different?
Coming to your software partner with these questions answered will make the task of digitizing your healthcare communication much easier.
Call Centers Best Practices
Though the idea of automated healthcare call center software is relatively new, other industries have been using call center software for awhile. The benefit of early adoption of call centers in other industries is that best practices have long been established and researched based on past experience. Let’s review some common best practices:
- Engage partners and staff with the correct expertise. You’re developing a new efficient system; don’t let human error clog it up.
- Integrate metrics and statistics from the very beginning. You want to have actionable data within the first few months to make the correct business decisions.
- Be patient-oriented in design and tech implementation. If a function doesn’t benefit patients in the long run, it’s worth re-evaluating.
- Follow data-privacy protocols and legislation; it’s never been more important than now. You need the correct experts to make sure you’re HIPAA and GDPR compliant.
- Don’t forget multi-channel communication and support for multiple languages. We’re living in an overloaded and multicultural world. Within it, technology is your best assistant.
“Our task is to solve the communication bottlenecks that frequently occur in healthcare organizations. Automation isn’t just a way to cut costs. Digitizing patient interactions for hospitals leads to better client retention, happier staff, improved healthcare facility management, and, most importantly, a better quality of life for the patients themselves. On top of that, the CRM system that goes hand in hand with medical call center services is also invaluable. It’s all about optimization and opening up new possibilities.”
— Vlad Medvedovsky at Proxet software company.
VoIP Call Center Solutions
Another technology to integrate into your medical communications is VoIP call center solutions. Voice over IP software allows your calls to go over the internet rather than depending on outdated landline infrastructure. There are numerous benefits to VoIP: the need for phone company equipment and technicians is removed; costs are reduced dramatically due to the elimination of calling rates; the expense of human operators can be reduced via remote work and outsourcing staffing; VoIP software provides technological perks and flexibility that traditional phones cannot (video, multilingual menus, instant messages, etc.).
VoIP-powered medical call centers are great if you want to have a combined approach: automation alongside human operators. This blended approach delivers personalized patient care through human staff when needed and automates every other process that doesn’t need to be quite as personal.
Call Center Statistics Examples
As we mentioned previously, it’s important to integrate metrics and call center statistics from the get-go. This will allow you to be in full control of your operation, know where your business/organization is headed, and make changes on the fly. And by applying big data, you will be able to see patterns and draw conclusions to recognize business opportunities and patient needs, and to make smart decisions.
Here are some call center metrics to track:
- Customer satisfaction levels
- Time spent by callers in queue
- ASA (average speed of answer)
- Average operator talk time (Average handle time)
- Occupancy rate (time spent by human operators taking calls and handling requests)
- Speed of patient request processing
- Voice vs. non-voice channels usage
- System uptime and downtime
- Percentage of blocked calls
- Call abandonment rate
….and many others!
Implementing a CRM System for Call Centers
One of the greatest advantages of a digitized healthcare communication system is integrating a CRM system for call center operations. This takes the efficiency of your customer interactions to a new level.
Imagine having everything in a single software window: patient requests, doctor appointments, statistics and metrics, call distribution, and much more. You and your staff have a bird’s eye view of everything that’s happening. No more searching for vague information, long email chains between various departments, using several different tools to get a single job done…CRM organizes and unites the communications of your hospital or clinic.
When combined with AI and automated call center functions, CRM software for medical call centers can boost your productivity and improve the customer experience while providing structure for your organization. CRM systems have already revolutionized IT development and work in large organizations; medical facilities can now structure and optimize their communications systems in the same way.
Proxet is a software development company that brings healthcare organizations into the digital era with cutting-edge, cost-effective solutions in medicine and customer interactions. AI, ML, medical call center services, automation, and many other custom solutions are the tools we use to elevate medical facilities and help them reach new levels of effectiveness and patient satisfaction