As the medical industry experiences higher demand for service and a staffing shortage, outsourcing options have become more pivotal to keeping things running than ever before.
Many clinics and hospitals are shifting common inquiries previously handled by internal staff to outsource call centers, where overflow can be better accommodated. Segments of the industry, such as marketplace enrollment and COVID testing, have also begun to rely on outsourcing even more heavily.
Handling Office Overflow
In the last three years, many clinics in the medical industry began offering more at-home options such as telehealth or video visits, making outsourcing well-suited for remote patient services. In fact, virtual visits were offered by an astounding 84 percent of physicians in April 2021, and 57 percent said they would like to continue offering them.
An additional driving factor in the shift to virtual care options has been the staffing shortages experienced by clinics and hospitals. The lack of in-clinic employees has made serving patients in a timely manner difficult. Add on a surge of new inquiries as individuals seek virtual care options, and it’s easy to see why the medical industry is increasing its reliance on outsource contact centers to fill in the gaps.
This rise in appointments has caused an uptick in other types of inquiries, like appointment setting and insurance verification. Some call center agents even hold certifications that allow them to counsel patients on how best to handle medical needs, such as if an in-office visit would be required based on symptoms.
Open Enrollment, beginning in November, is a time of high demand for healthcare contact centers. This period marks a time when citizens who have not experienced a qualifying life event may enroll in major medical health insurance plans. In 2021 alone, 13.6 million people signed up for marketplace insurance, exceeding any previous year’s enrollment.
Adding pressure to the marketplace, 86.5 million people are expected to freelance in the next five years, a practice that is becoming more commonplace in the United States. Due to the individualistic nature of their work freelancers are not eligible for employer healthcare benefits, meaning they will need to call in during the open enrollment period.
Many BPO providers who offer marketplace support have agents who focus on answering inquiries regarding deadlines and plan options. These employees receive ample training before the open enrollment period, often hired specifically to specialize in the insurance industry. With such a short window of time to make a healthcare decision that will impact the rest of their year, customers expect contact center agents who are both knowledgeable and skilled. Experienced contact centers know just how to recruit and deliver on those hopes.
COVID Testing and Results
Although the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic are ramping down, one thing still remains a normal part of life — testing. Patients may simply want to know whether they’ve contracted the illness, or need proof of a negative test result for activities like travel, events, or in-person clinic appointments.
With so many reasons to swab, COVID-19 testing has become its own industry. Thousands of testing sites have been established, both inside clinics or pharmacies and in stand-alone locations. Large pharmaceutical retailers continue to funnel resources into drive-through testing or over-the-counter kits.
Contact center agents are often the ones who will handle getting those important test results back to patients. Their job is to respond to calls and emails, making sure you know if you can attend your appointments or travel. Additionally, general customer service for people who have questions about their results and next steps has brought about contact centers specializing in the field. When the results come back positive, these agents also may help guide patients on best practices to minimize the chance of hospitalization and the spread of COVID-19.
Filling the Gaps
While many in the healthcare industry already utilize outsource call centers, adding additional staff to the roster may be on the horizon. These extra agents help ease the increase in no-contact solutions as more patients choose virtual visits over in-person visits, prepare for open enrollment, and require testing for COVID-19.
If you need to increase or replace your outsourced call center support to keep up with demand, we can help you find the right partner. Start the conversation by requesting your no-obligation call center cost proposal to help navigate the world of outsourcing options.