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The role of telemedicine in healthcare is increasing and digitalization is helping to deliver better outcomes for patients and healthcare providers alike. The healthcare contact center sits at the heart of this evolution, and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions are leading the way.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent reduction in face-to-face interactions shifted healthcare towards remote, digital forms of patient care, with telemedicine at its heart. A study by the Rand Corporation found a twenty-fold increase in the rate of telemedicine utilization following the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. McKinsey puts that number at 38 times pre-COVID levels. It would be a mistake to see telemedicine solely through the lens of the pandemic. Digitally-equipped contact centers are poised to revolutionize healthcare.
The use of telephone triage services, video consultations and smartphone apps have already been embraced by the public, and there is broad recognition that there are better, more efficient ways to do healthcare (particularly with non-critical conditions). By and large, existing telemedicine systems have coped well under unprecedented pressure, though such a huge uptake underlines both the appetite and need for further digitalization within the healthcare sector. As focus grows on digital transformation in healthcare, contact centers could help lead the way.
An intuitive, remote healthcare contact center experience improves access and outcomes for patients, in addition to enabling contact center managers and healthcare providers to focus their in-person resources on the most vulnerable and urgent cases. As Deloitte found in late 2020, a strong digital healthcare system empowers patients to monitor their health and be more predictive and preventative in their behaviors. Meanwhile, health services can provide greater interoperability and coordination of care pathways. The range of channels and level of customer service and understanding needed to make this new type of system work requires a specialized kind of contact center.
The healthcare contact center sits at the hub of an omnichannel experience. From the start, an omnichannel platform provides patients with value in the form of choice. For many smaller issues (e.g. refills, follow-ups, “is this serious” types of questions), many patients prefer the convenience of a quick chat or call over the hassle of driving to a medical center. That convenience could have important health implications as well by encouraging people to ask questions early. The ability to instantly and easily ask a professional for advice could dramatically reduce costs down the line, once again benefiting everyone involved.
The change is already underway. Prior to the pandemic, Gartner forecast that CCaaS would be the preferred adoption strategy for 50% of contact centers by 2022. That estimate now appears conservative, with a Markets & Markets report suggesting that the global size for cloud-based contact centers will reach a value of at least $36.1 billion by 2025, rising from only $11.5 billion in 2020.
Underpinning the growing confidence in CCaaS solutions are more refined engagement models and the ability for rapid technological deployment that are now required by many industries, particularly healthcare. CCaaS solutions offer seamless integration with existing systems, without compromising service or security, which is crucial for mission-critical and data-sensitive services, as well as private healthcare providers.
Cloud-based CCaaS solutions have been increasingly used by businesses of all stripes, delivering benefits such as greater operational scalability, flexibility and a unified view of customers across different contact points. All of these elements – particularly the latter – are vital to improving the overall efficiency of telemedicine in healthcare and delivering better outcomes for both clinicians and patients.
Intelligent automation (IA) makes data retrieval and analysis vastly more accurate and empowers agents with the real-time, relevant and contextual information they need to handle and direct patient interactions successfully and compassionately. According to Gartner, within the next three years, “65% of enterprise organizations that deployed robotic process automation (RPA) will introduce artificial intelligence (AI), including machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) algorithms.”
Tools that feature machine learning (ML) models and natural language processing (NLP) help to build systems capable of automating certain interactions. They ease the burden on human agents and free them up to use their abilities for the betterment of patient outcomes in the healthcare contact center.
Automated interactions through voice or text-based chatbots might once have been viewed with suspicion by patients seeking clinical advice, but they have now become much more prevalent in other areas of life. The huge popularity of voice assistants like Siri and Alexa – with over 100 million of the latter sold thus far – has made people more comfortable using these services, while the necessities of the pandemic have seen acceptance of their role in healthcare-based roles rise too.
All of these tools can be leveraged with agility and expertise through a CCaaS solution. The ability to do so without being held to the static assumptions (e.g. the number of agents needed, estimated customer requests, etc.) of in-house contact centers is what has made them so appealing to contact center managers in recent years.
With operational capacity, system resilience and cost pressures all being constant factors in the healthcare sector (particularly public healthcare), it’s clear that a CCaaS-driven healthcare contact center could lead the way in driving value for patients and providers through digitalization.
Healthcare providers have rightly been lauded in recent months as heroes during a time of much pain and stress. The debt that society owes them for their tireless efforts can scarcely be repaid, but by transforming patient care for the better through telemedicine, healthcare leaders can help establish a future that gives them everything they need to succeed.
That’s why healthcare providers are turning to Odigo, a CCaaS leader in developing CX solutions.
Would you like to learn more about the benefits of a CCaaS solution for your healthcare organization?
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