Efficiencies: Explore phone alternatives

Q. Do I need to hire a call center or answering service?
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Monday, June 26, 2017

A. When you ask companies why they provide phone support, they’ll usually say because their customers often want real help from a real person, right away.

In a lot of businesses, phone support can actually deliver that. If you call your credit card company, you’ll reach a real person who can pull up your account, and resolve your problem right away.

But if a patient or caregiver calls your home infusion company after hours, the person they reach cannot actually help them. They can only initiate the process to get help for them. That process can take minutes or hours. When a patient does get a call back, it starts with them repeating everything they already told the person with whom they left a message. As a home infusion nurse myself, I have extensive experience with this process. I know that even simple questions, left unanswered for only a few minutes, can cause a tremendous amount of unnecessary anxiety.

As we know, there are numerous hugely popular alternatives to the phone, like texting and chat apps. These are increasingly being used in healthcare—many of my patients prefer texting me. With a secure, HIPAA-compliant messaging tool with smart on-call routing, there is no real need for call centers anymore.

Some people think older people don’t text or chat, or that it is less personal. Studies have shown that older smart phone users (65+) are open to messaging apps with a user-friendly interface. As far as being less personal: to me, patients tapping an app and reaching a nurse immediately sounds like better personal service than messages left with call centers.