Healthcare Call Center Update: This Company Thrives as an Outsource Centralized Scheduling Call Center

BEVERLY HILLS, CA-When we last profiled American Health Connection in our May 2014 issue (“For This Outsource Company­ A Beverly Hills Headquarters, But a Remote Workforce“), the company had several hundred people around the country working in its virtual outsourced centralized scheduling call center.

Today, that number has exploded to more than 700 people working remotely, plus a headquarters staff in Beverly Hills that numbers about a dozen.

CEO Yuriy Kotlyar says that the company’s growth has a lot to do with market readiness for a centralized scheduling option.

Kotlyar started this company approximately eight years ago. “We were way ahead of the market when we started,” he says. “Now there is more of a mental readiness than anything else.”

It is one thing for a health system to begin an outsourced centralized scheduling call center and have to work hard to get the physician population to understand the advantages. It is one more step removed from the physician’s office to have an outsource centralized scheduling call center handling their schedules. Kotlyar understood this challenge. “It took quite a bit of work to make sure that doctors were comfortable with it,” he says. “One of the things we did was have conversations ahead of time with them.”

One of the challenges in building a virtual centralized scheduling operation with employees from coast to coast is hiring the right people. “The majority of people we hire have had experience in similar positions and have knowledge of medical processes,” he says. “We also hire some newbies.”

The company looks for attitude, prior education and the ability to handle situations that might come up in the course of the day. It does not do video interviews, but rather will talk with the applicant over the phone and also administer a written test.

This test is of general knowledge and general medical knowledge. Some questions have a right and wrong answer; others are more nuanced. They are not scored strictly on the responses, as the company also looks at more factors that the test draws out.

Its turnover rate is 8 percent, which is much lower than many other call centers. This is in an environment where most all employees are full time. One of the reasons for this strong staying power is the company’s sensitivity to burnout. “When agent utilization (call time plus wrap-up) is over 90 percent, that is burnout,” he says. “We work to keep it at 80-85 percent.”

The company’s scheduling agents have the title Patient Communication Specialist. “As part of their work at home agreement each individual must have a work space with a door that locks, a dedicated computer, fast Internet, and a quiet environment. “We ask them to take snapshots and we reserve the right to visit, which we do sometimes,” Kotlyar says. “We listen to calls. If they live on a busy street and you can hear ambulances, that;s not going to work. If the neighbor’s dog is barking, that won’t work, or kids running around.”

All calls are recorded.

Depending on the state of the particular account and the level of training of the agents handling this piece of business, 10 to 50 percent of the calls are listened to, either later via recording or live, he says.

About American Health Connection

American Health Connection (AHC) offers the healthcare industry’s only all-inclusive, full-service, virtual outsource centralized 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.