When patients call in, you can hear it in their voice – they’re sick, they’re probably in a bad mood, maybe the weather is bad. We try to make them feel better, because we’ve all been in their place! We treat people how we’d like to be treated.

Different patients call into a medical call center for different reasons, which keeps us on our feet. I’m a people person and love working with people and helping them get their goals met. It motivates me to do more.

I’m an only child, so growing up I did a lot of reading and science and attended cultural events. My father’s sisters were nurses but I was afraid of blood so I didn’t want to go into nursing. I took some clinical courses in college and later worked in an orthopedic multi-practice at a major hospital as a departmental secretary, and in a satellite hospital setting where I met with patients face-to-face. Now I’ve combined that background and work with patients, but instead of in person I meet them over the phone.

The medical call center has tools that help us deliver the best customer service, such as the McKesson Phone Script Manager tool. Every practice has similarities and differences, so the script provides us with guidance per practice, along with the procedures for  different specialties. It’s condensed, uniform and updated in real time so anyone at our medical call center can come in and pick up where someone else left off.

As we work, we’re very mindful of our performance. The McKesson 4-square Management Console keeps us aware of our goals, and that includes knowing data about the calls in queue. We focus on giving stellar customer service to each and every patient, both the patients on the phone and the ones who are waiting. If there are calls in queue we may need to cut down on the banter and not ask this time “How’s the baby?” But we take our cues from the patient. I’ll spend extra time with a patient when I can tell they need that extra special touch, and then other calls are quick so they balance out.

We’re professionals, and our training at the medical call center is ongoing. There are rules and regulations, and each call is recorded. So many calls per agent per month are reviewed to see that we meet certain goals, get feedback on our performance and make sure patients’ wishes are met. As needed they’ll point out mistakes and provide us with tools and reeducation that help us meet our goals.

Sometimes it’s hard not knowing how the patient made out after the fact. Once I had an older lady call in about a cardiology practice. She was very emotional; she told me she had X insurance. Her children were far away and suffering financially. I talked to her about her insurance, what was expected of her, and recommended she reach out to the practice so they could work with her to meet her financial goals. It broke her out of feeling powerless, like she couldn’t do anything or get the healthcare she needed. She stopped crying, and at the end of the call I told her a joke and she laughed. It brings me satisfaction knowing I played a part in that.

Working in a medical call center is about trust. The patient trusts us to perform correctly and in a timely fashion. We trust that the patient is telling us the correct story and not leaving anything out. When a patient calls at a later time and they recognize me and know that I’ve helped them in the past, it’s very gratifying.

Our training, expertise and people skills together help us help our patients – we’re knowledgeable, compassionate, listening, sympathizing. We understand; we’re with them. They can count on us to help.


About the author

McKesson Business Performance Services offers services and consulting to help hospitals, health systems, and physician practices improve business performance, boost margins and transition successfully to value-based care.