Come see us again: why customer service matters in healthcare

Posted: 05/02/2017 - 23:09

The notion of healthcare quality being measured only based on the level of medical care given to patients is on its way to a complete disappearance. From our position in the healthcare contact centre space, we have been witnessing more and more organisations focusing on the patient experience to gain and maintain a competitive advantage. This evolution toward value-based service benefits the patient, the healthcare provider and the payer. Value-based models encourage healthcare providers to deliver the best care at the lowest cost. In turn, patients receive a higher quality of care at a better value.

The patient experience does matter

Patient experience is much broader than the care itself. It refers to the quality and value of all of interactions - direct and indirect, clinical and nonclinical - spanning the entire duration of the patient/provider relationship, which represents a continuum of interactions. Understanding patient experience is a key step in moving toward patient-centred care. By looking at various aspects of patient experience, one can assess the extent to which patients are receiving care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values. Evaluating patient experience along with other components such as effectiveness and safety of care is essential to providing a complete picture of health care quality.

Measuring patient satisfaction: how to do it and why bother

You can’t know what patients are thinking unless you ask them. Physicians and practices often believe that they know everything about their patients and their needed care, but they are simply incapable of accurately assessing their patients’ perceptions of their received level of care: what is important to them or how well they are delivering the care experience.

It is no longer a surprise being approached by big medical groups and hospitals asking us to implement a 360-degree view of their patients’ base. Since patient satisfaction is driven by positive encounters across all touch points with the organisation, it is becoming imperative to proactively measure the satisfaction level throughout the entire patient experience using two methods:

  • Surveys
  • Social media monitoring

Surveys are sent to every patient’s mobile phone in the form of a friendly message right after every hospital visit. Also, patients are being directed after every phone call with the hospital call centre to an IVR simplified survey. Moreover, to increase the scope of the feedback, surveys are regularly sent via email to measure specific performance aspects of the hospital, the expectation of the patient being the recipient of the service and foremost, their satisfaction level.

Social media is mainly used as it provides patients with a low-effort and positive emotion channel experience. As it is vastly used for bold expression, monitoring social media in the search of “negative” as well as “positive” comments are the main task of a software that is specifically designed to send crawlers, as they are technically called, to spot where the name of the hospital was mentioned. It then classifies the comment, based on the verbiage, measuring the overall positive sentiments versus the negative ones, and give scores accordingly. In many cases, the call centre would instantly rescue the patient, by immediately intervening to solve the problem that just been expressed via the social media engine.

The fruit of all the efforts comes in the form of the dashboard access offered to the leadership of the hospital where it gives them a full view with a simplistic scoring to how they are perceived by their customer patients. A deeper layer of the reporting could reveal the satisfaction level of patients towards hospital departments, functions and even to the level of specific activities.

Such analytics are priceless in terms of identifying the DNA – so to speak - of every customer patient, with a highlight on their loyalty, value and potential. Those are all measurements that you may only hear about in a typical commercially aggressive business. Had it been appropriate, you would hear after every health visit a friendly and caring voice saying: "Come see us again!"

We’re not robots, we’re human

Healthcare providers are striving to enhance their patient experience by understanding patients’ expectations, listening to their preferences, measuring service quality, and providing feedback and tools for improvement, while maintain their cost structure. It is a terrible pain that we often hear from our clients, and outsourcing the whole function is rising as the panacea. A functional call centre is the health system’s most valuable point of contact for retaining patients and for acquiring new ones. In today’s economy, outsourcing the entire function allows providers to focus on patient care, which is core purpose of their mission.

About The Author

Ossama Hanna's picture

Ossama Hanna holds the responsibility of Centro’s growth and healthy development while making sure Centro delivers its promised value to clients. Hanna has held key roles in a few BPO organisations for the past 15 years and in different business cultural environments, advocating the benefits of outsourcing business process management. Hanna started his early career in sales and marketing for Xerox then Polaroid, handling the introduction of its Studio Express product to the MEA market. Hanna regularly contributes to industry events through dedicated speaking slots. Hanna holds an MBA degree from the University of Texas, with a concentration in Strategic Marketing. He is fond of aviation and hi-tech drones.