Behind the scenes of countless patient access center teams in healthcare are hardworking agents. As the unsung heroes of healthcare, they take on call after call while putting their best effort and attitude forward. A call center agent’s job is challenging in any field, but there are distinct difficulties that those in the healthcare industry face. Agents can easily become overwhelmed when forced to deal with repetitive calls and simple tasks beneath their skillset, in addition to their many emotionally stressful duties. Over time, they burn out and leave access centers scrambling to find replacements. Fortunately, conversational AI automation provides support and relief to overworked agents.
Being a contact center agent in healthcare requires high levels of training, patience, and skill. Agents often need to speak with patients who are in difficult situations or are experiencing illness or pain. They have to be comforting and supportive while simultaneously focusing on each question and concern. Patients who have a challenging issue may become frustrated, and agents must continue to be professional and empathetic while being on the receiving end of those emotions. Agents also need to be well-versed in the complexities of their health system. With various regulations, rules, and insurance technicalities in place, agents representing these organizations must understand the system in detail to provide patients with correct explanations and guidance.
When agents aren’t overwhelmed by routine calls and tedious tasks, they work at the top of their skillsets. Most requests, like appointment confirmation or giving directions to a clinic, don’t require the attention of such highly skilled workers. Forcing agents to handle simple and repetitive tasks adds stress and makes their difficult jobs even harder. Stressful work environments lead to burnout and cause 30-45% of agents to leave their roles every year. Burned-out employees can’t perform their jobs well, are more likely to take sick days, and are often actively searching for a different job. It costs roughly $10-$15k to replace a frontline employee, making it expensive to keep an access center fully staffed.
Parlance conversational AI-powered solutions lift the weight off healthcare agents’ shoulders. Our intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) are an asset for health systems because they work alongside agents, automating routine tasks like patient verification and insurance confirmation to reduce an agent’s workload. By leveraging caller ID and electronic health record (EHR) data, our modern IVAs help to assess and address each callers’ needs. They also let patients with simple requests self-serve easily by using their voice to access information or manage upcoming appointments. This frees up live agents to give their full attention to people with complex issues.
Agents in patient access contact centers already have a difficult job, but a lack of automated support creates an overwhelming workplace environment. Agents who are supported by IVAs are more likely to stay at their jobs and continue to provide positive experiences for patients. Conversational AI solutions take the burden of off patient access contact center agents so they can deliver support that is more responsive and effective.
By Annmarie Block