Penrod Blog

State of the Pharma Call Center: Solving Patient Pain

Patient expectations for customer service are growing in every industry, particularly in healthcare. Patient satisfaction is highly dependent on the support experience. A Frost and Sullivan study found that one of the top reasons for patient dissatisfaction was being on hold for an extended period. 

Patients expect competent, rapid answers to their questions about dosage, side effects, or symptoms. Pharmacy call centers need to meet this demand to retain patients, ease burdens on pharmacy staff, and reduce operational costs.

But health care call centers are often only as good as the technology that drives them, and the experience for patients is not always pleasant. 

In Part 2 of this series, we're talking solutions to patient pain.

If pharmacies fail to provide good support experiences, patients will look for other options, drive down satisfaction rates, and tarnish the brand. Being proactive about patient support earns trust, loyalty, and promoters. Today, virtual call centers are the best way to create a unified platform for a better patient service experience. 

Solving Patient Pains with a Virtual Call Center

A Virtual Call Center is a unified platform that provides agents with access to better data, insight into the call queue, and knowledge bases to handle calls appropriately.

Let’s look at a few specific patient pains that virtual call centers solve.

Long On-Hold Times

By adopting a digital care coordination platform, call centers report significant reductions in average call length. The platforms use automated call routing to connect patients with the right agent based on data – their historical needs, order history, and demographics. Agents no longer have to waste time looking through binders of rules, spreadsheets, or connecting three-way calls.

Hold times can also be completely eliminated by offering self-service options. A virtual call center also provides portals, chatbots, and FAQs that allow patients to get the help they need quickly without involving an agent.

Not Being Connected with The Right Agent for Their Issue Right Away

It’s not uncommon for patients to be transferred from one agent to another. This haphazard process wastes time for the patient, reduces satisfaction scores, and increases operational costs. 

Intelligent call routing can resolve this pain point. Call routing improves the efficiency of call management to boost customer experience. The routing system identifies the caller’s phone number, their reason for calling, and assigns them to the agent that can best assist them.

Furthermore, the agent is given a 360-degree view of the patient directly in the platform, allowing them to effortlessly provide personalized support.

Intelligent routing systems work by identifying an agents’ track record, skills, and training to ensure the caller is routed to the optimal agent. More importantly, the system ensures calls are routed to call-center agents rather than nurses or pharmacists. This allows medical staff to focus on their job responsibilities.

Poor Issue Resolution On First-Contact 

Of course, some patients’ questions need to be escalated beyond tier 1 agents. When issues are immediately escalated to pharmacists, not only are they distracted from their primary responsibilities, but the highest-paid staff are now focused on questions an agent could resolve. Also, patients are forced to wait longer.

A Virtual Call center unifies robust support center features with the CRM and EHR data. As such, patient data can be accessed and updated in real-time. This gives agents a 360-degree view of patient data in real-time, helping them deliver highly personalized support experiences. 

Unuseful Answers 

A positive call center experience can quickly turn negative if the patient receives irrelevant answers. In most cases, this can be attributed to poorly trained agents, low morale, or siloed data.

Call centers can remedy this problem by making more data available to agents with a knowledge base, patient information, and access to EHR data from the fulfillment system.

Call Spikes 

Call centers can quickly become overloaded. As a result, congestion causes calls to end up in voicemail – or worse, be disconnected.

A virtual call center platform helps call center managers to predict volume spikes based on historical data. As a result, they can prepare with adequate staffing, adaptive coverage, and contextual routing.

Pain: Limited Options for Support

It can be frustrating for patients when a phone call is the only way to resolve an issue. Not only can a call take more time, but the answers may not be sufficient when they do. 

Call centers can resolve this pain point by implementing a platform that offers multiple channels for inbound inquiries. For example, chatbots, SMS text messages, or self-service portals provide incredibly effective ways patients can resolve issues without contacting an agent. This frees agents to focus on quality, improves satisfaction, reduces call volume, and decreases operational costs. 

Final Thoughts 

Upgrading your call center to a unified virtual support platform resolves many of your patients’ pain points. By incorporating a knowledge base, syncing your CRM with the call center, and creating a multichannel platform, you will enhance the patient experience, reduce operational cost, and improve staff morale. Your agents will also benefit from a more automated approach that simplifies crucial, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks. This leaves them with more time to focus on providing quality, personalized patient service. 

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