Wednesday, December 7, 2016

7 Ways to Support Population Health Management with Contact Centers

Healthcare call centers are profoundly relevant to today’s healthcare challenges. They are a vital tool in meeting the triple aim objectives of improving the experience of care, reducing costs and managing population health.  Call centers are assuming a critical role as patient experience hubs at the center of the healthcare continuum.

Our research shows that call centers are moving from a siloed support function to a critical role as a patient experience hub at the center of the healthcare continuum. Download this Article from AnswerStat The Contact Center’s Revitalized Role for Population Health Improvement, and we will walk you through 7 ways your call center can be at the forefront in supporting population health management.

#1 Integrate First Point of Contact Functions

Consolidate first point of access functions such as scheduling, transfers, physician referral, class registration, physician-to-physician referral, nurse triage, and switchboard into a central contact center communication hub. This will assist the newly insured, support ACO and medical home physicians and create economies of scale.

#2 Make Post-Discharge Calls to Reduce Preventable Readmissions

Your call center can assist in preventing avoidable readmissions by scheduling follow up appointments with a patient’s primary care physician prior to discharge. Enrich the patient experience even more by making outbound calls to recently discharged patients to clarify follow up care instructions, make certain prescriptions have been filled, or to discuss dosage amounts and frequency. The call center and also be used to confirm follow up physician appointments with family members and/or caregivers.  These actions can significantly increase kept appointment rates and potentially alleviate another a return trip to the hospital for the patient.

#3 Re-deploy Your Contact Center as a Trust-Building Resource for Participating Physicians

Ask physicians how you can help them succeed in your network. Ask them how the contact center can provide greater support for their practice. They might just tell you, and create a beginning to a long lasting relationship.

Provide navigation support by coordinating follow up appointments, referrals to specialists or to appropriate classes.  Make referrals and confirm appointments for patients in your Emergency Department who don’t have a primary care physician.  Facilitate physician consults for referring physicians with one-call access to specialists. All of these activities can be coordinated through your call center communication hub.

#4 Become the Communication Conduit to Direct Referrals for Reference Pricing

Employers across the country are taking note of reference pricing; where employer groups are identifying the average price charged for a particular procedure in a given service area and agree to pay only that amount with any overage paid by the insured.

Research and understand reference pricing for each plan in your service area, and enter the participating hospitals into your contact center software. When a patient calls in for a specialty procedure like knee replacement, your call center can refer them to an appropriate physician or hospital covered by their employer’s plan.

#5 Deploy Clinical Triage and Advice to Reduce Emergency Department Utilization

Clinical triage manages emergency department utilization by directing callers to the most clinically appropriate and cost-effective care – whether you’re trying to moderate cost for a hospital, a health plan, a managed care organization, or an ACO. Clinical triage directs the truly “at risk” to immediate emergency care, and redirects the inappropriate use of high acuity clinical services to primary care or homecare. Evidence-based clinical guideline protocols address ACO requirements for evidence-based medicine, patient engagement, and coordination of care.

#6 Shift Your Call Center’s Focus from Transactions to Transformative Experiences

The healthcare contact center is frequently a patient’s first experience with a hospital or health system.  The first three seconds of that interaction are important because they are a strong indicator of patient preference and subsequent hospital selection.

But think about it.  If your goal is to improve transactions, you’ve already lost. The future is about delivering transformative experiences at the first point of contact. It is like the comparison of just serving coffee to the experience you get at Starbucks. Population Health Management requires providers to connect with patients where they are. Think of your contact center as an ongoing connection, a running dialogue with key stakeholders (the patients!) your organization needs you to engage with.

#7 Build or Implement a Plan to Leverage Personalized Social and Mobile Media Opportunities

In addition to strengthening relationships with key stakeholders, the contact center communication hub must integrate with and personalize communications on social media and mobile devices. Social media, geo-location targeting, and mobile communications enable contact center communication hubs to connect with key stakeholders where they already are. With new demographics emerging, Millennials for example, are more likely to communicate via text than are older patient populations.

Now that you know some of the ways your call center can play a vital role in the continuum of care, standardizing on these best practices can transform your call center into a patient experience hub. What to learn more? Click here.

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