How Contact Center IT Can Help Health Systems Compete for Patients


When it comes to healthcare, the importance of consumer experience is more critical than ever. The financial performance of health systems increasingly depends on converting consumers into patients and retaining patients who now have expanding options for urgent, primary, and elective care. A contact center is a critical component of an inviting “digital front door” for consumers—which is why forward-looking healthcare organizations are upping their contact center game.

At our presentation at the recent 2018 Healthcare IT Expo in New Orleans, we envisioned what a future-looking contact center would look like. It’s a timely topic because healthcare CEOs increasingly recognize that consumers want to interact with their healthcare providers as they do with organizations in other industries such as retail or hospitality.

About three-quarters of healthcare CEOs say they expect more than half of their strategic plans to include a focus on consumerism in the next three to five years, according to Modern Healthcare’s 2018 CEO Power Panel survey. To define how consumerism will influence operations, more than 40 percent identified paying more attention to consumer satisfaction and feedback. 60 percent plan on adding more online services.

And that’s where today’s contact center technologies can help. You can improve patient experience and engagement—while wisely leveraging infrastructure investments. A contact center and patient access IT strategy can drive hard ROI associated with patient acquisition and retention. And yet, the contact center is often overlooked as an important mechanism to achieve these objectives.

Contact centers are evolving to become more clinically relevant and strategic. Consider the possibilities, as increased communications options make it easy for consumers to connect with your services, from online appointment scheduling, email and text communications to virtual care visits including video consults. Today’s technology also enables personalized interactions so you can target engagement strategies for option-seeking Millennials as well as physician-centric, loyal Boomers.

The status quo versus the art of the possible

Yesterday’s call centers are evolving from being mere phone-based call centers into integrated, omnichannel centers that seamlessly blend voice, online chat, text messaging, social media, and even video. And, as patient and provider mobile apps proliferate, cloud-based omnichannel services are making it easier than ever to embed these interactive technologies into contact center operations.

One of the most powerful aspects of a forward-looking contact center is the potential to gather insight into the patient’s experience.

One of the most powerful aspects of a forward-looking contact center is the potential to gather insight into the patient’s experience. EHRs document patient treatments and lab tests, but data from a consolidated contact center and other parts of the “digital front door” harnesses information across more touchpoints in the patient journey. These data points are generated from the consumer’s initial research and provider selection, to scheduling appointments and medication reminders, as well as other forms of care coordination. Health systems that adopt omnichannel contact center technology can use that patient data to generate powerful and actionable insights about the patient experience. 

A forward-looking contact center IT plan can ensure that communications technology fits into a comprehensive approach to patient experience and engagement. Leaders from contact center operations, IT and Telecomm, and others responsible for patient experience can transform what was once considered to be cost center infrastructure into a strategic revenue driver.


June 28, 2018