In a previous interview, Cynthia Mazur, Call Center Director at McKesson Business Performance Services, discussed a number of health care call center benefits. Call center agents are able to respond quickly to patients who call in, improving patient satisfaction. Call centers offer a variety of support to administrative and clinical staff, who are then better able to focus on the patients in front of them. Now, Mazur outlines what health care leaders should assess when deciding whether a call center is right for their practice.

Q: What should health care leaders know about choosing a quality call center?

A: Health care executives should look at the labor pool where the calls are handled and see how those agents are recruited and trained. What’s the average learning curve? How does call center management drive quality? What experience does senior staff have? What’s the coaching model? How are representatives developed; for example, do they start off with two or three practices and build up to 20?

Q: What are a few examples of typical problem areas that hurt patient satisfaction scores?

A: Scheduling is the biggest problem. The front desk person is trying to handle checking patients in and out, calling physicians to the front desk, pulling records. Health care call center services can take a load off of the office staff so they can be present and focused on the patient in front of them.

Q: Your call center team handles patient intake, billing, coding and accounts receivable for some providers. Can you explain why patient satisfaction scores are important markers for the agents you work with?

A: We put the bar very high. The patients we work with are our clients’ customers, so we have to ensure that we provide the best, world-class customer service. This is critical because there are so many options today, for doctors, nurses, practitioners and patients — they can go anywhere.

Our goal is to maintain every patient. The only way we can do that is by giving every patient a very personal experience when they hang up the phone. They know when they get to the physician’s office they will have that same great experience. Plus we’re the first ones that a new patient will talk to, so we want that call to be as accurate and efficient as it can possibly be. The patients we serve know what they want — they want the best, and that’s what we deliver.

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