The beginning of the year is one of the busiest times for patient call centers. That’s because it’s a time when new health plans take effect and healthcare deductibles reset. Given the increase in workloads, it’s also an opportune time to establish or re-evaluate key performance indicators (KPI). Do patient call center agents perform as expected? Do they understand processes and procedures? Perhaps most importantly, do they provide patients with the information they need as efficiently as possible? Reputable patient call centers continually ask these and other important questions.
Importance of Call Center Metrics
Patient call center metrics are important because they:
• Ensure quality and productivity.
• Identify opportunities for education and process improvement.
• Promote effective allocation of resources.
“These metrics are the foundation for ensuring patient call centers deliver a high-quality service that provides a stellar patient financial experience,” says Arwin Lawrence, vice president of Philippine operations at Global Healthcare Resource. "Call centers play a critical role in answering patients’ questions, accepting payments, addressing grievances, and so much more.”
What should today's patient call centers measure? Consider the following top five KPIs:
Top 5 Metrics to Track:
1.) First Call Resolution Rate
What it shows: Whether call center agents resolve the issue or answer the patient’s question during the first call or whether patients typically need to call back.
Why it’s important: Helps call centers identify areas for refresher training and ongoing education to make agents more effective at their jobs.
2.) Abandon Rate
What it shows: How often patients end the call before speaking with an agent.
Why it’s important: Could indicate patient frustration with long wait times. When this is the case, call centers may need to increase staffing for certain work queues.
3.) Top Call Generator
What it shows: The type of call that agents receive most frequently.
Why it’s important: Call centers can use this information to develop scripts or decision trees to help streamline workflows for common questions or problems.
4.) Patient Satisfaction
What it shows: How well patients perceive the service they receive from the call center.
Why it’s important: It helps call centers identify areas for improvement as well as areas of strength.
5.) Employee Satisfaction
What it shows: Whether agents are engaged or whether they may suffer from burnout that can negatively affect the patient experience.
Why it’s important: It provides insight into whether the call center must invest more in health and wellness programs and/or re-evaluate KPIs to promote a more supportive work environment.
KPI Best Practices
Establishing KPIs is the first step. Perhaps what’s most important is what patient call centers do next. Consider these three best practices:
- Monitor the data frequently. A team of analysts should review the data regularly to identify patterns and trends.
- Foster collaboration. For example, analysts should collaborate with work queue-specific subject matter experts to understand the data and its implications.
- Drive performance and process improvement. For example, if patient payments are a top call generator, can a hospital/provider or revenue cycle management (RCM) vendor use interactive voice response (i.e., a touch tone response system) to permit patients to pay by phone? Or if patients frequently call with questions about their billing statements, can the hospital/provider or RCM vendor provide more detailed descriptions of each line item on the bill so patients know what they owe and why?
Call center agents meet and exceed performance metrics only when they receive ongoing education and training. This is particularly true during a time when so many U.S. regulations are changing, says Lawrence. “When there are changes, consumers may not understand them,” he says. "We provide constant training so we can serve as a resource.”
Lawrence provides these training best practices:
- Create a robust onboarding plan that includes skills training, client-specific nuances, and cultural sensitization.
- Provide refresher training. Every six months is ideal.
- Use artificial intelligence (AI)-driven technology. For example, AI technology considers an agent’s experience and how often they make an error (and why). Then it provides gap training in real time.
KPIs & Long-Term Success
Patient call center metrics are critical; however, it’s important to note that there will always be outliers; for instance, the patient who is particularly chatty during a call or the question that takes an extra 10 minutes to research thoroughly. Metrics are a barometer, but they shouldn’t be the ‘be all, end all.’ That’s because patient satisfaction is what matters most. Patient call centers that prioritize and promote this message to their agents will be most successful in the long run.
Founded in 1999, Global Healthcare Resource has been a leader in revenue cycle management solutions and proudly employs 6,000+ HIPAA compliant coders, billing professionals and patient call center agents. Global operates as an extension of your office to improve productivity and increase ROI.