3 Ways to Alleviate Healthcare Call Center Stress Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Posted March 23, 2020 by Jake Beyer

contact center agentsLife was crazy in the healthcare realm before COVID-19, as influenza cases were at an all-time high. Add in a pandemic and crazy became crazier!

On one hand, there has been an increase in appointments being cancelled and rescheduled, resulting from fear of contracting the virus by visiting the clinic.  This has caused a burden on the front line – the representatives taking calls. On the other hand, there has been an increase in the number of people who believe they may have been infected with COVID-19 and want to be seen and tested.  This causes additional burden on those same representatives taking calls. In fact, I have heard reports of 100+ calls per hour more than normal in healthcare contact centers.

Prior to this pandemic, we were already seeing many healthcare organizations shorthanded when it came to patient representatives in the contact center.  Now, the issue is compounded. Fortunately, by utilizing a creative mixture of people, process and technology, healthcare organizations can alleviate the added stress. Let’s take a quick look at some options:

1. Enable your agents

Create standardized scripts with an FAQ or knowledge base.

• Allows agents to have a standardized response to calls
• Reduces handle time, allowing more calls to be answered in a day

• Fails to address the shortage of agents

2. Segregate your calls

Create a group of users who only focus on the COVID-19 subject

• Allows for day-to-day interactions to be processed at a reasonable pace

• Could cause a bigger backlog specific to the COVID-19 interactions

3. Utilize automation

Create virtual agents (bots).

• Allows for high deflection rate on easy interactions
• Reduces cost while increasing efficiency
• Enables 24×7 coverage (a bot doesn’t get sick)
• Can be implemented with minimal ramp up time

• Could cause some negative feedback from patients, as some patients may still prefer to talk with a human
• Training of the bots must be completed

With the uncertainty that we are facing, we need to look for ways to do more with less. Each of these ideas are low-cost and quick to execute. Each organization is seeing different challenges in the face of COVID-19, so I encourage you to ponder the combination that best suits you. If you’d like help talking through your options to Alleviate Healthcare Call Center Stress or just want some more information please reach out to me, we are here to help!