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Why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance and value of contact center technology 

Are you underutilizing one of your most valuable IT resources?  

If you’re like many hospitals, you’ve invested in a significant infrastructure that could be doing much more for your patients, staff, and bottom line. 

Intrigued? It’s your hospital contact center. Depending on the organization, the contact center is known by a variety of names—switchboard, operator services, customer service, call center—but no matter what you call it, it’s time to start thinking more strategically about how this critical area can add value to your operations. 

Contact center staff in today’s modern hospitals do so much more than field calls. Healthcare contact centers have evolved from siloed call centers simply responsible for answering and transferring calls to multi-functional communication hubs that touch virtually every area of the hospital. 

In our latest survey of over 200 healthcare professionals, more than 57% of respondents reported their organization’s contact center contributed considerably or a great deal to the patient experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With the right technology that integrates with your hospital enterprise directory, you have the power to bring together many critical communication functions to improve patient access, support care team collaboration, influence patient satisfaction, and much more. 

When’s the last time you took a good look at your contact center technology and operations? 

This often-underappreciated operation may very well be key to your hospital’s success in a technologically complex future.  

Shifting regulations, consolidations of healthcare entities, a proliferation of new technology, and an increasingly mobile staff—not to mention a global pandemic—all contribute complexity and volume to communication workflows.  

“A logical next step is to expand it into a centralized resource for all types of communication, including clinical workflows.” 

Because a contact center is already tasked with answering questions, fielding and transferring calls, relaying vital information, providing physician answering services, launching code calls, and much more, it can be accurately described as the patient communication backbone of the organization. Centralizing and standardizing communications is the logical response to bring order to complexity.  

Equip the contact center with an enterprise-wide technology platform 

The use of an enterprise-wide technology platform makes this a relatively simple transition.  

Why? Because the contact center and the clinical departments are already using the same source of truth, the enterprise directory, for contact details, preferences, and schedules. It’s also a move that typically translates to significant cost savings, as the infrastructure consolidation of technology is often accompanied by a physical consolidation of agents into one location. 

But the proliferation of technology does not necessarily bring greater collaboration, accuracy, or security to patient care. Ideally, all the disparate roles, systems, and workflows within the hospital should work together seamlessly. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. 

Check out three ways to ensure this crucial department in your hospital contributes to your overall clinical communication strategy.  

1. Simplify the important: Improve critical code response times by speeding up initiation of the workflow  

Consider the important role of your contact center in response to emergency codes and how this could be improved with an integrated healthcare operator console in place. When all emergency response sources (facilities, ambulatory, rapid response teams, etc.) and protocols are consolidated into a single function, hospital staff have only one number to call or one button to press to launch a code. With a consolidated enterprise database, operators can log codes and track responses and escalations, make overhead announcements, or message additional staff to allow the care team responding to the code to devote their attention where it matters most: the patient.  

2. Maximize flexibility across your team by enabling staff to work anywhere  

Healthcare systems had to rapidly pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic and contact center operators in some locations could not continue working in close quarters while maintaining social distancing. At UW Health, the team reconfigured their workstations to enable remote work at the beginning of the pandemic. While there was initial reluctance, built-in reporting has shown no drop in efficiency or productivity, meaning contact centers were able to stay safe and still help keep patient care and satisfaction at the forefront from wherever they were. Read the case study to learn how they did it.  

3. Automate and consolidate: Free contact center staff time to improve clinical workflows  

Staff at contact centers with consolidated technology solutions are able to streamline many processes. The time savings and more sophisticated tools allow them to handle a wider array of requests, including inquiries about costs and insurance plans, appointment scheduling, event registration, physician-to-physician referrals, nurse triage, as well as consult requests and code alerts. Automated greetings provide routine information to callers, patients and their families get the information they need without being connected to an operator, and operators can focus on other responsibilities.  

Conclusion  

Contact centers, the operators, and the embedded workflows are more important today than ever. Hospitals and healthcare systems rely on them to keep information flowing consistently throughout the day. Consolidated enterprise-wide communication technology like the contact center solutions from Spok help tie the contact center more closely to clinical communications and ultimately enhance the patient experience throughout the hospital.  

How does a transformed contact center improve clinical workflows?  

1. Increased staff satisfaction and efficiency 

For example, VCU Health’s contact center realized a 10-second drop in average call-handling time for operators, improving caller assistance to boot. 

2. Improved response times to critical codes 

See how Banner Health reduced their critical code launch time by 68%. 

3. Contact center staff are able to handle more diverse tasks and responsibilities 

TidalHealth Peninsula Regional was able to reduce operator call volume by 17%. 

4. Enhanced security and risk management through encrypted messaging 

At UnityPoint Health – Meriter, transferring the responsibility of managing on-call schedules from the operators to individual departments reduced the time contact center staff spent updating department on-call schedules by 67%. 

We’d love to discuss how these organizations used Spok Care Connect as the key to successfully creating an efficient communications infrastructure, anchored by a smoothly functioning contact center that’s ready for the future. If you have a contact center, you can do it! 

How can you learn more?   

  • Download the step-by-step guide to maximize your contact center here  
  • Read about the advantages of call recording here  
  • If you’d like to learn more about how Spok can help advance your contact center, please talk to us