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Patient access centers elevate the patient experience


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Andrea is recovering from a broken arm. She’s trying to schedule a follow-up appointment with her orthopedist within a large orthopedic practice.

This practice utilizes legacy approaches to patient scheduling and has all incoming patient calls route to general reception without utilizing tools like auto-attendants, IVR patient prompts, or patient scheduling call routing and queues. So, when Andrea calls at 9:00 am on a Monday morning, she’s one of many patients who are anxious to schedule appointments. The result: Andrea will encounter long wait times, be prompted to leave a voice mail, or, more likely, she’ll abandon the call.

Andrea, like most patients, has no desire to engage an alternate provider not familiar with her recent surgery, so she tries again a little later. This time, a receptionist picks up, but before Andrea can ask for an appointment, the receptionist says, “please hold.” Andrea waits, watching the clock tick by.

Andrea will muster through and get her post-op appointment scheduled, but her assessment of her provider via satisfaction survey or through other social channels will be very poor. Similarly, any new patient to this provider organization encountering such a poor scheduling experience would access an alternate provider. Either outcome will directly lower patient revenue and community reputation. 

What Do Today’s Patients Expect From Their Patient Experience?

As co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses continue to increase along with flexible provider options, today’s healthcare consumers have much higher expectations for their healthcare service experience. Research findings conclude that the negative effects of a patient experience directly impact overall patient satisfaction and loyalty. A survey from West shows that 91 percent of patients say they are likely to investigate other options if they are not completely satisfied with their current healthcare provider. Furthermore, 94 percent of providers report that they have noticed patients are shopping around more today than in the past for healthcare services.

Your patients will no longer tolerate anything less than an excellent patient experience. If you don’t offer that, they’ll go elsewhere. That means your reputation will suffer, not to mention the revenue you’ll lose when patients choose other providers.

Download RingCentral’s Healthcare Patient Access Center Checklist

Unlike Andrea’s experience, a positive patient experience includes aspects of care delivery that patients value, such as scheduling appointments quickly, being able to easily access information, and communicating clearly and effectively with their healthcare providers. 

Today’s patients want their interactions with healthcare providers to be efficient, hassle-free, and supported with flexible communications channels: web chat, social, self-service voice prompts, and more. They also do not want to be treated like a new patient each time they contact their providers. A contact center enables the provider to identify patients when they call, provide baseline patient data, and even route the call to the same facility staff that assisted them during their last encounter (e.g., with a billing question).

Equally important are the robust call analytics and reporting capabilities that a contact center can provide. Without visibility to on-hold times, average time in queue, or call abandonment rates, providers simply cannot improve call experiences like Andrea’s. That is likely one of the reasons that 60 percent of healthcare organizations are focusing budgets on innovative solutions that increase patient engagement and support the ever-increasing influence of consumerism in healthcare.

Download RingCentral’s Healthcare Patient Access Center Checklist infographic.

Elevating the Patient Experience with a Patient Access Center

A patient access center allows patients to easily access the healthcare staff and services they need and navigate complex provider organizations; however, a patient access center is only as effective as the collaborative contact center cloud technology that powers it.

Contact center cloud solutions include omni-channel customer routing, CRM software integrations, agent management software, and actionable call center analytics and reporting. Providers can use these systems to connect their patient access center agents with patients on their channel of choice to share important information with patients, other healthcare providers, and healthcare payers.

Today’s patients expect more from their healthcare providers. With RingCentral’s cloud contact center solutions, you can deliver higher levels of engagement to ensure better healthcare outcomes and increased patient revenue.

Originally published Jan 24, 2020, updated Jan 08, 2024

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