Healthcare call centers have become a significant part of today’s healthcare industry. Insurance companies have long provided policy information to clients and helped coordinate care with medical providers through their call centers. Others have served as a go-between for patients and providers, while still others have sold various medical products and services to consumers.
Now with the rise of telehealth, these call centers have become more important than ever. But call centers in this industry must be cautious. Because of the profound changes in telecommunication regulations, the healthcare industry must adapt quickly in order to run smoothly.
Healthcare Patients Prefer Voice Communication
Although consumers have several options for communicating with providers and others in the industry, they prefer voice communication. Anything to do with health and wellness is highly personal, and people want to get much of their information from another person instead of a computer site or text message. Often, patients have questions and feel more comfortable asking a person than dealing with a chatbot or FAQ page—the personal touch matters.
Even if your site carefully follows government regulations concerning health information (HIPAA), not everyone trusts online exchanges, fearing hackers could access their info. The voice of a trained professional can calm those fears.
Challenges for Healthcare Call Centers
Call centers face multiple challenges, but healthcare call centers may be under the most pressure. These facilities handle highly sensitive material that the government tightly regulates. Some of the most important challenges for these centers include:
A healthcare call center relies on advanced telecommunications to deliver customer service for patients. Many restrictions apply to these communications, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), designed to protect consumers from robocalls and other forms of telemarketing.
HIPAA compliance is undoubtedly the most important in this industry since the law is designed to protect an individual’s private medical information. The penalties for violating HIPAA include steep financial fines and forced corrective plans. Ensuring calling agents abide by HIPAA compliance is essential.
Scammers know that consumers innately trust hospitals. Most consumers have frequent interactions with various healthcare professionals as well. That’s why scammers often try to spoof consumers with hospital or healthcare professionals’ phone numbers.
Consumers will almost always answer the call because they fear missing information about their health or upcoming appointments. Customers who have been tricked in this way are more apt to be angry and report the incident. These complaints lead to more carriers blocking more numbers as spam.
When healthcare professionals can’t reach a patient, frustration develops because it can endanger someone’s health. Blocked calls are stopping some professionals from reaching their patients because carriers are labeling them spam “likely or worse.” The patients understandably will not answer such a call.
As a result, the patient doesn’t receive timely test results or important health notifications. Several days later, they may call the healthcare facility, upset that the doctor has not contacted them. In this process, patients do not get the treatment they need as quickly as they should. Sometimes, this delay could be life-threatening.
Ways to Improve Operations
Legislation such as STIR/SHAKEN is working to correct many problems, including dangerous and unethical call spoofing. Happily, you do not have to wait for federal enforcement to kick in to improve your operations. You can take the following measures immediately:
Send Patients Your VCard
If your patient saves your number into their phone, it becomes whitelisted and will not be blocked due to negative labels. You can make sure patients save your number by sending them your vCard, a text message with all of your business information. With just one click, they can enter this information into their phones, which greatly improves your communication efforts.
Hold on to Numbers to Keep Them Clean
You can protect your company’s reputation by keeping your phone number purchases to a minimum. Scammers may not have spoofed your facility, but some of the numbers may have been used in previous scams.
Also, because businesses recycle numbers with sellers, you might be buying numbers that political campaigns, telemarketers, or other industries have used. When you call a patient or consumer, the caller ID might display the information from these previous users. That means an insurance company may show up as John Doe’s Political Committee.
And, as always, train your agents to follow ethical dialing procedures to avoid carriers flagging numbers that you own.
Use the Right Dialers
Remember, dialer configurations can help get your numbers flagged. A preview dialer may be best for the healthcare industry because it gives your calling agents data on the patient they are dialing before the call begins. Your agents can use this information to quickly establish their credibility when the patient answers. They can also spot more “wrong numbers” this way.
By choosing a preview dialer, you will streamline your agents’ workflow and enhance your company’s reputation.
Monitor Your Numbers Frequently
You have heard this advice a thousand times, but it bears repeating: make sure you are scanning your numbers to ensure they are not flagged. You need to scan carefully every new batch of numbers for carrier and app flags. And you also need to monitor your current numbers to make certain they don’t receive new flags. Your numbers’ caller ID status can frequently change based on consumer feedback and dialing behavior.
Diligence in Healthcare Call Centers
All call centers must be careful about their agents’ dialing practices, outside spoofing efforts, and caller ID labels. But healthcare dialing centers must be even more diligent since people’s medical information and treatment are at stake. Since patients still prefer to use voice communication, the industry must stay abreast of federal regulations and, in particular, rules that govern medical information.