How we eliminated abandoned inbound calls

Published

Result

Patient call hold time reduced from 18 mins to less than 30 seconds. Abandoned calls went down to zero.

Problem

Our customer’s front desk typically had to handle 300+ calls per day (during business hours). They had 100+ abandoned calls each day.

They did not know how many calls they received after business hours as no one attended them anyway. They received more than 20 voicemails per day. They also had no idea how long of a wait time their patients had on the phone. They knew that it was high because most patients complained directly to the doctors during their visit about the hold times.

The front desk staff also took incoming calls while the patients were in the waiting area. This, as expected, led to patients in office having to wait to be serviced. While their non clinical staff didn’t say anything about this, the patients went on to complain to the doctors about the front desk issues.

Patients had left very few reviews on google or facebook. However, the reviews that were left on Facebook or Google were mainly negative. Another point to note is that even in the negative patient reviews, there were positive mentions of the doctors themselves.

Most of the complaints were about the front desk, the wait times in the office and the hold times on the phone. Patients and their pharmacies also called the front desk with various questions about medications.

The front desk staff would typically route the calls to the technicians that were already busy tending to patients inside the office. More often than not, this led to the pharmacies leaving a voicemail and the patient standing at the pharmacy not being serviced. That led to even further friction and reduced patient satisfaction with our customer’s practice. 

This became worse when any kind of marketing push was made. With each marketing push, more inbound calls would occur – as expected. And with more patient appointments would occur as well. This led to more patient hold times and wait times in the office. 

Our customer’s management team recognized that there was a problem but didn’t actually know how to resolve the challenge.

With our first analysis of the customer’s call logs, we found that patient hold times were more than 15 mins per patient. These were worse in the mornings and earlier during the week (Mon-Wednesday).

Solution

We didn’t really have to analyze much about this situation because we are already of the opinion that the front desk should not be tasked with taking inbound calls. They are there to service the patients in the office and to manage the patient flow in the offices. 

Our recommendations included:

  1. Creating a centralized patient contact center team
  2. Having the patient contact center team handle both inbound and outbound calls
  3. Outsourcing the patient contact center
  4. Migrating the call center software to Amazon Connect Contact center 

We deployed our patient contact center team to handle all inbound and outbound calls within a matter of 5 days. We “right-staffed” the patient contact center team using the Erlang-C model. This reduced the patient call hold times to less than 60 seconds.

We migrated the call center software to Amazon Connect within 5 days. The entire IVR was transferred over. It took about 10 days for Amazon Connect to port the existing phone numbers of our customer over to Amazon. 

We utilized our software to engage patients via text messaging, voicemail drops, voice calls. In addition to these channels, we also added new channels – facebook messenger and Google my business messaging.

At the end of each day, all reports and KPIs / metrics were available for our customer in a healthcare CRM.

The original goal of reducing patient wait times was achieved (with flying colors) and patient satisfaction grew tremendously.

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