A report in Healthcare IT News, “Strategies to Maximize Patient Engagement and Retention,” observed that the healthcare industry is evolving to a model where patients are approaching their healthcare as consumers. As a result, patients’ expectations of an “exceptional care experience” are requiring that providers start engaging patients not only during office visits, but throughout the care continuum. To achieve this end, the single most important component is communication.
Gaps in communication often occur because of time constraints on physicians and office staff. In fact, a study at the University of Missouri’s Sinclair School of Nursing, published in the April/June 2014 issue of Nursing Care Quality, found that clinical staff spends an average of two hours per day making calls to clarify patient medication orders. In addition, it often takes physicians an hour to respond to a voicemail message.
Patients are feeling the time crunch, too. According to a February 2015 survey by Nuance Communications, “Healthcare from the Patient’s Perspective,” which surveyed over 3,600 patients, more than 30% of them spent less than 10 minutes with their physician during an average visit. Even worse, 40% of patients felt rushed during appointments.
One way to keep patients engaged and active in their care is by using a nurse-staffed call center to help fill the gaps between office visits.
Call centers can benefit patients by engaging them across several touchpoints:
According to HIMSS Analytics' 2014 Telemedicine Study, the need to fill care-continuum gaps is what drives providers to adopt telemedicine solutions.
Forty-three percent of respondents to the web-based survey said their primary motivation behind investing in telemedicine tools was filling in gaps. Nearly 16% of those cited the removal of barriers to patient care as their main reason for deciding to use telemedicine.
The Healthcare IT News report noted that gaps most commonly occur when providing patient education, educating newly insured patients, fielding unscheduled appointments, and performing patient follow-up. By using a dedicated call center instead of staff for patient communication, healthcare practices can close communication gaps and leave providers free to focus on the patient care experience.