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Treating the Healthcare Call Center as a Revenue Generator –
Yuriy Kotlyar from American Health Connection, a service provider at marcus evans National Healthcare CXO Summits 2023, discusses how healthcare organizations can capture additional revenue with a more efficient patient scheduling process.
Interview with: Yuriy Kotlyar, Chief Executive Officer, American Health Connection
“When patients call a healthcare provider’s call center to schedule an appointment and experience long wait times or cannot connect directly with a scheduling agent, they look for alternative solutions. The result is lost revenue for the organization. A healthcare call center is often misconstrued as an expense, but in fact, it’s a revenue-generating department. That is how patients generally get access to their Provider,” says Yuriy Kotlyar, Chief Executive Officer of American Health Connection.
American Health Connection is a service provider at marcus evans National Healthcare CXO Summits 2023.
There are two sides to a healthcare call center. On the patient-facing side, when patients call a healthcare provider, they often experience long wait times or get transferred numerous times, which causes frustration, or the call center is closed after hours and on weekends.
On the facility side, many executives don’t realize the quantitative and qualitative benefits of the call center. They don’t know if it is performing efficiently. Executives don’t see the call center as a direct source of revenue. A call center is a complex business that requires hands-on management. A traditional call center can’t easily predict the number of agents throughout the week when a high volume of calls come in mid-day on Mondays versus Friday afternoons.
Agents must be scheduled to work when call volumes require resources and when it is convenient for the patient to call, not necessarily when the center is open. It is difficult to calculate what business is lost just by not answering all calls, but our experience suggests it is over 15 percent.
Traditionally, the healthcare call center has always been in-house. When we established our company, not many, if any, facilities had call centers. We were the first to handle patient communications for hospitals and clinics virtually.
You need space, technology that supports your operations, and staff to answer calls, train, recruit, supervise, and maintain the call center. It’s challenging to find qualified staff. Facilities often have to hire people without experience and train them from scratch. Turnover is caused by unqualified staff quitting or qualified staff being recruited by another facility.
On the other hand, having a virtual call center can present additional difficulties. Most healthcare facilities lack the level of detailed management required. Management is the key. As examples, managers must constantly monitor attendance, staffing, quality, workflows, and patient complaints. AHC has a team of auditors constantly checking and managing every detail.
Call center agents should be able to handle almost any type of call, which at AHC, we call a One-Call Solution. That includes scheduling appointments of any kind, verifying insurance, pre-registration, physician referral, knowing physician specifics and preferences, etc. All of that must happen at the most convenient time for the patient. There are many intricacies in the scheduling process.
Healthcare facilities have outsourced many functions that are not directly related to patient care, such as IT, transcription, facilities management, coding, and many others. Executives should realize that the call center is no different. Just like the ones above, this task needs to be handled by an experienced organization specializing in call center operations.
The way we customize the service, patients will not realize they are not talking directly to the facility. In turn, the organization will see increased business, reasonably significant cost savings, and better patient KPI and service levels.
About American Health Connection
American Health Connection (AHC) offers the healthcare industry’s only all-inclusive, full-service, virtual central scheduling and patient communications services. Our Patient Communication Management® service encompasses a suite of customized, scalable services that seamlessly and cost-effectively streamline all aspects of the patient scheduling and engagement process.
Our comprehensive solutions are designed to dramatically improve scheduling and registration workflow, enhance patient and physician satisfaction, maximize client resource utilization, reduce costs, and generate revenue.