A few weeks ago, I wrote about wasteful healthcare spending. The crux of the blog is that many specialized communication applications are needlessly purchased. Features inherent to existing telecommunication systems frequently provide capabilities touted by these specialized applications. I received a lot of positive feedback regarding this article. The most common request was to explore how interactive voice response offers a solution to wasteful healthcare spending.
Attendant consoles and call centers offer medical insurance payers and providers another excellent target for eliminating wasteful healthcare spending. These labor intensive facilities support outside callers and internal personnel. They work to quickly identify and transfer calls to the appropriate departments or individuals. It is also common for them to launch code calls and direct inquiries (from physicians, staff, and patients) to on-call or shift-based personnel.
In many instances, these facilities act as sophisticated, real time answering and call management services. Hospitals and health insurance companies frequently staff these facilities 24×7. There is no question regarding the need for personnel to handle extraordinary events (e.g., code calls, emergencies). However, a significant number, if not the majority, of calls are routine and modern telecommunication features, such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) units, can be used to satisfy them.
The number of healthcare companies that have not embraced IVRs to reduce costs and improve service is surprising. Interactive voice response offers a solution to wasteful healthcare spending. It is an obvious tool for automating responses to high volume requests, streamlining patient and customer inquiries, and improving staff efficiencies while eliminating the expense of unnecessary labor.
More surprising to me is the fact that the majority of healthcare payers and providers do not utilize IVR capabilities to minimize the cost of proactive outbound patient, member, and subscriber care. A wealth of research demonstrates IVR effectiveness in a variety of care management programs such as depression and anxiety treatment, diagnosis, medication refill compliance, substance abuse, and chronic disease management.
Healthcare call center and attendant console operations are a prime target for reducing cost and improving efficiency. Interactive voice response offers a solution to wasteful healthcare spending in these areas. Do not overlook the value IVRs deliver as an integral component of today’s modern telecommunication systems.