The Impact of Inflation on Healthcare and Call Centers - MedCity News

When it comes to connecting with clinicians and patients, the hospital dashboard can be as intimidating to navigate as the maze of buildings and corridors on a hospital campus. Hospitals are struggling to keep operator positions filled, a role that had high turnover even before the pandemic. Inflation has only exacerbated the challenge for hospitals to fill these positions as valuable employees gravitate to higher-paying jobs elsewhere in the hospital or other organizations.

Scott D’Entremont is Chief Revenue Officer language, an industry-agnostic technology company that found a specific need and niche for its voice call management solution in healthcare organizations. The company is well-aligned with the needs healthcare organizations are experiencing right now as they seek to balance automation with a more personal touch in managing call traffic to the switch.

Scott D’Entremont

“People are finding it challenging to stay fully staffed to process costs in the healthcare environment, especially for people calling to make appointments and access healthcare or to connect with patients or individuals who take care of them,” D’Entremont said. “In both situations, more than ever, there appear to be significant staffing issues. Wage inflation creates more problems for the organizations I speak to.’

For more than 25 years, Parlance has been at the forefront of intelligent speech-powered technology, providing end-to-end conversation management solutions that bridge the gap between staffing constraints and patient demand. Expertise in the healthcare environment enables Parlance to deliver significant cost savings to healthcare systems, cultivate a productive and stable environment where operators and agents can best serve callers, and help hospitals and clinics deliver satisfying experiences to both patients and staff. The language strives not only to understand the ways in which different communities of healthcare system callers interact with the healthcare system’s voice network, but also to analyze end-to-end requests to a healthcare system. The goal is to make the process of reaching the intended recipient quick and easy.

D’Entremont said interest in Parlance’s solutions has increased since the start of the pandemic.

“At this point, not only is it difficult to retain people, in some cases it’s difficult to hire replacements and train them, only to have those staff leave.” Our technology provides a kind of safety net. Health systems know that Parlance will provide the support they need to answer these calls.”

Another way Parlance helps healthcare organizations is through personnel release so they I have time to address more complex calls. It also avoids interactive voice response (IVR) systems that provide menu options for callers, which can lead to frustration, especially in stressful situations. By helping staff to offer a higher level of service, it reduces turnover as plant operators feel less stressed, they are more engaged and feel like they are making a difference.

Language patient connection applications integrate with HL7 systems and immediately ease the burden on operators by allowing callers to connect with loved ones faster, according to a recent paper. At a time when the centers were operating with reduced staff, Parlance eased the strain by not only connecting callers with loved ones, but also offering the option to speak to a nurse or provider about their recovery. This small change offered enormous comfort to families who would otherwise have difficulty getting updated information about their loved ones’ health.

D’Entremont noted that his automation technology was especially useful when the pandemic gripped the country, as traditional rules for visiting patients were upended.

“What happened with Covid-19 was a major disruption to regular hospital visits. People could not visit their family members. This is how we made it easier for people to reach caregivers. We added an additional dialogue question in many of our hospitals: “Do you want to contact the patient or her caregiver?” Because as much as they wanted to talk to their loved one, what they often wanted was an update on their condition. Since in-person visits were not allowed at this stage of the pandemic, they could not get this information by stopping by the nursing station. People found that really helpful.”

He added: “The expertise to design and deliver the right balance of automation and live support for healthcare systems, to humanize the experience, get routine callers, people who know exactly what they want, quickly to the resource they need, as well as having a better human experience for other people, people who need to talk to a live person for complex support or empathy… That’s really what we feel our contribution is.”

One of the challenges facing healthcare systems is the constant drumbeat of consolidation. This requires companies like Parlance to be nimble enough to adapt and ensure their system can reliably keep up with personnel and departmental changes.

D’Entremont emphasized that Parlance can easily adapt to change in ways that are more nimble and more efficient than, say, a hospital’s IT department or competing vendors. A project that could take up to six months for competitive competitors often takes Parlance only 30-45 days to complete.

“The health system selector processes calls that go to hundreds, if not thousands, of destinations, and they all pile up in one place. In short, it troubleshoots health system switchboards and untangles bottlenecks quickly and efficiently,” explained D’Entremont. “Parlance supports business optimization for healthcare organizations so they can save money while recovering from the pandemic. We deliver ROI in one to two months, so the cost savings happen quickly.”

Hospitals are dealing with cost pressures caused by the pandemic, staff shortages exacerbated by inflation and supply chain uncertainty. The Parlance solution combines intelligent speech-driven automation tools such as natural language processing, AI and machine learning with proprietary Name Bank technology to help patients access care without frustration, connect with loved ones and their caregivers with ease, reduce operator workload, and optimize switchboard operations so hospitals can run more efficiently.

photo: Jordi Mora Igual, Getty Images

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