While the holiday blues is still dominating our mood and we have just finished putting away the Xmas decorations, we are starting to be swamped with news of a flu outbreak, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere, after all it is January! Oh, the joys of winter!
I don´t know about where you are, but here in Portugal, the healthcare sector has its hands full. If you are part of it, you know how chaotic it can get. It´s cold, people spend more times indoors, get sick, and when that happens they rush – unnecessarily - to the hospital. It´s usual to read and hear about clogged emergency rooms in every hospital and healthcare facility, people complaining about the long waits, exhausted medical professionals due to over work… tough situation.
There are organizations, though, that deal with it perfectly.
SNS 24, a service provided by the Portuguese National Health Service, highly minimizes the scenario I´ve just described. One of the areas of the SNS 24 is a contact center, which is responsible for efficiently managing the flu outbreak, or any other situations. Let me tell you that they are doing an excellent job and operations go as smoothly and worry free as possible. How? I´m sure the biggest secret is in their professionals, but their job gets much easier with the proper contact center technology to screen patients and manage calls.
Improve Focus and Efficiency
SNS 24 healthcare contact center agents are certified nurses. People call, explain what they are feeling, and based on that, the nurse decides the severity of the situation and suggests one of the following:
- Advises for home care and eventually the purchase of over the counter medicine
- Suggests scheduling an appointment at the health center in the next few days
- Sends the person to the emergency room of the nearest hospital
This screening process happens with the help of a script, and complex script flows that are completely transparent, and that guide the nurse/agent to the right diagnosis according to the symptoms of the patient.
Improve customer satisfaction and engagement
People are advised to call SNS 24 contact center before any visit to the hospital emergency room. If they do end up sending the patient to the emergency room, there is no need to wait once they get there, because they have been referred by SNS 24. Additionally, they also don´t have to pay the hospital fee. If the problem can be solved at home, they will make a call usually within one or two days to find out about how the patient is doing.
The contact center solution allows the configuration of call rescheduling, enabling SNS 24 to follow up and make sure that the patient’s condition is improving. This personalized care gives people the assurance that they are being taken care of, thus creating customer loyalty that could never be obtained in a hospital emergency room.
In 10 years of operation SNS 24 has handled about eight million calls, which represents about 1.000.000 (million!) contacts per year. From everyone that called, only 22% were directed to the emergency room, according the statistics on their website. This represents huge savings both in terms of required workforce and facilities at the hospitals, and it was possible in part, due to the contact center software they use.
A contact center for the healthcare sector is not restricted to handling contingency situations. It can also be used proactively. I´m thinking about the Spanish Red Cross, that in addition to using the contact center to handle critical situations, also benefits from it in daily activities. For example, they have in place a video solution that checks on elderly people during cold or heat waves to make sure that they are safe and take the appropriate measures, in a timely way if any problems arise.
I´m a regular user of the SNS 24 and been through all levels of severity. And I don´t even think about going anywhere in the health care system without calling them first. Judging by the numbers, I´m not the only one. They are a success in the healthcare sector in what concerns customer engagement. Additionally, they also have loyal customers as people trust and always use the contact center first before going to a hospital emergency room.
A contact center service proves to be a success for the healthcare sector, whether public or private.
Do you want you want to improve your patient´s experience?