Call recordings – for supervision and training
Most call center software have the ability to record all calls. Some of them face challenges because of where those call recordings are stored.
Medical call recordings have to be stored in a HIPAA compliant manner and therefore many of the industry leading call center software cannot be used.
I recommend Amazon Connect as it was very easy for us to record all calls in a HIPAA secure manner, and quite cheaply as well (AWS S3 storage is quite cheap).
Call recordings are a must have – you are going to need them for quality audit purposes and you are also going to need it for training purposes.
While there is a lot of value in training your call center agents via live 1-1 or a group training session, nothing beats the kind of training an agent can get if they listen to representative call recordings for the workflow they would be handling.
Auditing call recordings
Auditing call recordings for supervisory purposes is mandatory. While it is never going to be possible for your supervisor to audit all call recordings, a random sampling of 10% of call recordings every day is more than enough.
There are several factors to audit recordings on – here are the ones we use.. E.g.
- Call opening
- Call probing
- Empathy displayed during the call
- Call resolution
- Script adherence
- Call closing
- Call compliance
Create phone scripts for your call center agents
Sometimes it is better to not have all calls scripted – but we recommend preparing scripts for agents as you begin this journey.
While I do not force call center agents to follow the script religiously, I do expect the call center agents to follow the general guidelines of the script.
Create these scripts. They help immensely with training and onboarding of call center agents.
Inbound calls related
- Outbound calls related
- appointments scheduling
- surgical coordination
- pharmacy / medication related issues
- patient balances
- insurance / eligibility related issues
- billing related issues
Outbound calls related
- patient reminders
- no show patients
- reactivation of patients that have fallen out of care
- patients that made an appointment and never showed up (no-encounter patients)
- community outreach
- patient balance reminders and collections
- getting new patient referrals from existing patients
Do keep in mind that if you are calling on behalf of your own medical practice, you are a first party collector and do not have to handle Miranda rights to the extent that a third party collector has to.
Get a single number for the entire practice
I have dealt with situations where each location has its own phone number and patients have to remember each number.
However, my recommendation is that if you are creating a centralized healthcare call center, you should get a single, well branded number to represent your entire practice and all its locations.
For my client, I purchased the numbers from tollfreenumber – this process was really easy and we received the Toll Free Birth Certificate very quickly as well.
Porting your number
The next step was for us to port this toll free number to Amazon Connect.
Of course, you need to port the existing local phone numbers for each practice location as well.
After that, we simply ensured that we updated our client’s IVR to announce the new phone number to all our callers so they could update their own records.
Meanwhile, I also ensured the the call flow for each one of the older inbound phone numbers were the same as that of the new, main phone number we acquired for our client.
Route the call flow to your inbound call center agents.
Callers/patients never really need to know which number is being answered.
Many of these individual offices had their phones hosted using freePBX.org and there were extensions for each staff.
To resolve this challenge, go ahead and purchase a few more local numbers.
Do not publish these extra numbers to the outside world. Instead, associate those phone extensions to the staff / doctors.
Whenever your call center receives a phone call that needs to be routed to a particular staff, they would simply dial the “secret” phone number of the practice and dial the required extension.
Amazon connect does have a challenge wherein it does not allow for voicemails very easily.
You can resolve this by having a general voicemail box on one of these local phone numbers.
This voicemail would collect all the incoming voicemails for the call center agents.
The call center agents had access to the voicemail box and could return calls as needed/appropriate.
You can also choose to implement the wonderful solution that Amazon architects put up for voicemail.
Update all the marketing materials (including the website) while this transition is happening.
My client had ongoing PPC campaigns and these campaigns did use call tracking numbers.
Call tracking numbers allocated to each practice location might present a challenge to you. This was the only hiccup I faced during this entire transition.
TEST, TEST, TEST before you roll this out
Before I rolled out the centralized call center, we took the time to test things out first. The existing inbound numbers remained as they were. I simply had the call center agents take mock calls on the inbound phone number that we purchased.
We all called in with various scenarios that inbound calls typically come in for.
I also tested the call volumes that are expected on Mondays – Wednesdays.
As expected, the call center IVR, call center agent response times, call drops etc went well – however we still had to tweak the appointment scheduler a bit.
The business rules that were powering the appointment scheduler database were not enough and the agents had to spend more than necessary time on scheduling an appointment.
I spent some more time on the appointment scheduler logic that reduced the time spent by a call center agent on scheduling an appointment.
On top of this, it also reduced the amount of auditing work that needed to be done that appointments were being scheduled correctly.
Only after a test run of 1 week, did we actually transition all the existing local numbers to Amazon Connect. Do note that this porting process takes 1-2 weeks so we kicked off the porting process before we started our trial.
On the day of the actual porting activity (handled by amazon connect support entirely), it barely took 1-2 hours before wrap up. However, our systems were thoroughly tested already.
Prepare escalation channels – there will be escalations
During my planning and design phase, we created a plan to address patient, provider, and staff issues/concerns. As noted above, we designated a patient access director that greatly helped ease these challenges/complaints.
I had the patient access director be a liaison between the call center supervisor and the practice staff + providers.