By Colin Roberts
As provider organizations seek to improve customer service, they are challenged to balance automation—which allows patients to self-serve for basic needs—with personalized interaction.
Let’s face it, patients have different requirements and needs, depending on their level of risk.
For example, lower risk patients may only need to reach out to your access center for relatively simple requests, like appointment scheduling or directions to your facility. Meanwhile, higher-risk patients—those with chronic conditions, for example—may require more interaction with a care coordinator, registered nurse or care coach.
The problem for many hospitals is that they handle each of these patient types exactly the same—and it is simply unsustainable from a cost and efficiency standpoint.
Hospitals need to ask themselves—does every patient require the exact same level of attention? Where will efficiency have maximum impact?
The strategic use of automation technology based on where patients are on the spectrum of risk allows your organization to put a “human touch” where it is most needed: in areas relating to chronic care and transition care management; and provide customer-friendly, intelligent automation for patients who require more basic services, like routine care management.
Think about it—if your organization requires a person to schedule every appointment or to tell a patient to turn left at a second stoplight (and that can add up to several hundred calls per day), it costs you money, time, and resources better served elsewhere. What makes self-service so critical is that every time a live person at your organization picks up the phone, that call becomes significantly more expensive than if it was handled with automated technology.
Thankfully, with today’s technology, even automated processes can be highly personalized—both in message (i.e., specific to the individual patient) and the mode of communication (i.e., the patient’s preferred communication channel: phone call, text, email, etc.).
Stratifying patients frees your clinical staff to work at the top of their license. Patients are sorted by level of risk, and provided with the appropriate level of attention.
Healthcare is waking up to the fact that minimizing cost is no longer an option. Reimbursement is on the line, and provider organizations have to leverage every savings opportunity they can find.
Communication strategies and tactics vary from hospital to hospital, but each deals with the challenges of reducing costs while accommodating the varying needs of a growing patient population. The strategic use of automation provides low-risk patients with retail-quality customer service while allowing high-risk individuals to receive the personalized care they need.
Colin Roberts, Senior Director, Healthcare Product Integration at West Corporation, has more than a decade of expertise in health analytics, patient engagement and payment integrity. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.