From Patient to Consumer – Why Healthcare Needs Unified Communications

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The healthcare industry is becoming more complicated to navigate, and the new healthcare patient is now a healthcare “customer” with a new set of expectations. This customer is more engaged, informed and involved, with different preferences and beliefs about how healthcare should work for them. With out-of-pocket expenses 38% higher now, according to Deloitte, customers are compelled to shop for their services.

The new healthcare customer’s loyalty can be reached across four strata: engagement outreach, discovery and acquisition, care and service, and follow-up and retention. These are significant levels of customer focus, and Unified Communications (UC) can play a part in strengthening them all.

If you are a healthcare provider, this simple shift, from patient to customer, has, or will have, an impact on your business. The implications for investments and cost saving measures are grounded in the strongly positive correlation between the patient/customer experience and the profit margin. In other words, whatever can be done to improve customer service and satisfaction will breed customer loyalty. Unified Communications can evolve your organization and create a seamless, consistent, customer experience that will improve your margins.

The Omni-Channel Experience

When talking about the omni-channel experience, the provider must find ways to be out in front of the customer wherever they are and whenever they want to engage. When your customer is up in the middle of the night and intends to schedule an appointment with a specialist right then and there, your UC solutions need to be working even if you’re not. Can they engage in a call or a live chat with someone who can help them if the office is closed? If not, your competition may very well allow for that.

Contact centers within healthcare organizations will likely handle the bulk of customer requests, and their proper functioning is of the utmost importance. From enrollment, to scheduling, to claims management, the contact center is often the company’s front line of service; therefore, close monitoring of the contact center is crucial. Actively measuring agent productivity by looking at queue times, calls handled, and abandoned rates, for example, helps secure a more consistent customer experience. Recording calls for whisper coaching and silent monitoring ensures that your customers are receiving the brand experience you demand. Business intelligence gleaned from reporting and recording presents the opportunity to gather actionable data while serving your customers high contact support, be it through voice, video, or instant message.

Unified Communications omni-channel solutions for the contact center give the customer control over being served in a way they prefer. Employee productivity is also enhanced by letting agents get to inquiries quickly and efficiently through process improvement. Integrating UC into your contact center builds more profitability into your business allowing you to build your relationships with your customers and give them the best individualized, value-based patient care you can provide.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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