What is the patient experience like for your healthcare organization? How much has it changed over the past year, or the past five years? For SMBs, clinics, and medical office managers considering the switch to healthcare VoIP service, it’s easy to get lost in geek speak and tech jargon, while losing sight of the reason you’re there in the first place. Instead, train your focus on the 3 C’s—Cost, Care, and Compliance—the best way to find the VoIP provider who can ensure that your call center is set up to help you succeed on each of these critical fronts.
Healthcare VoIP Service: Where Cost is the Benefit
It’s fair to say that those who have served in this industry for a long time may have a difficult time reconciling what the world of medicine looked like when they started vs. what it has become today.
Consider the house call. At its peak just over 50 years ago, nearly 40% of doctor-patient interactions took place in the home. Fans of The Brady Bunch may remember one of the formative episodes in the first season when all six Brady kids came down with the measles, and two pediatricians (one for the boys and one for the girls) were tromping up and down that storied staircase to attend to every change in condition. But the house call soon became an anachronism, with the percentage of interactions dropping to .06% by 1980.
Discussions surrounding the healthcare experience today often revolve around two central—and interwoven—threads:
- The miracles and marvels of modern medicine, and
- The exploding costs that we’re told are the price of maintaining these miracles
The concept of the house call became a punchline in the 1980s because of cost, not because it was suddenly ineffective.
SMBs within the healthcare space are often not only cost-conscious but cost-obsessed. This orientation can result in decisions that wind up undermining patient care. However, the move to healthcare VoIP solutions is one that office managers are making that produce real savings, without sacrificing quality.
Healthcare organizations moving from traditional TDM (time division multiplexing) phone systems to healthcare VoIP service for their voice needs can see savings ranging from 40-70%. When you consider that telecom costs may represent 10% of your IT expense budget, the move to healthcare VoIP service can slim down both your CapEx and your OpEx budgets. Here’s where you’ll see the savings:
- Calls: Traditional phone companies may offer unlimited minutes, but what does that break down to in actual per-minute cost? You get what you pay for, and unlimited may mean you’re paying for much more than you’ll ever need. A good VoIP provider will offer per minute rates where you pay a fraction of the cost for what you actually use. With an unlimited plan, you pay for what you might
- Equipment: Aside from the cost of using the service, traditional phone carriers require voice-specific trunks and gateways that cost money to maintain. SIP trunking saves money by decreasing or eliminating the need to operate separate voice and data circuits. It also offers SMBs the option of using hosted IP-PBX solutions, rather than purchasing and maintaining an on-premise PBX.
Start with Why: When Care is the Key Metric
If your healthcare VoIP service were only helping you keep some change in your pocket, it wouldn’t be sufficient to make such a sweeping change to your communication infrastructure. However, when viewed from the standpoint of the patient, good healthcare VoIP service offers advantages that can make it easier to foster patient-centered care communities.
With all the mergers, acquisitions, and expansions in the healthcare world, it’s easy for patients to feel disconnected from their providers. They may see call center agents as a barrier designed to keep you from speaking to the doctors or nurses who might be able to answer their questions. They don’t know that some offices operate in silos, which means that an agent or a medical office assistant doesn’t always know where the provider is or even have a way to transfer the call to a different office.
A smart VoIP deployment using intelligent call routing can connect multiple sites, so that every member of your organization is on the same page, with extensions that prevent the hassle of asking patients to dial a different number to answer their question. Integrating intelligent IVR systems can also reduce stress by gathering essential information so the system will know the topic of the call and whether the patient’s issue requires urgent support, a highly-localized answer, or even an agent that speaks a specific language. These responses are all integrated with the organization’s call routing rules, which is essential to providing faster and higher quality patient care.
Going further, our group works to find ways to surface critical information, making it possible for providers to access relevant patient records while communicating with patients. These innovations can save time and money for your healthcare organization while improving outcomes for those you serve.
When It Comes to Compliance, SIP is HIP(AA)
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA, was designed to protect the privacy of patient health information. After twenty years, most organizations understand the importance of being HIPAA compliant. However, the proliferation of new communication technologies has made it more difficult to preserve the right level of vigilance.
For instance, Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic in Raleigh, North Carolina was hit with a $750,000 fine after the Office of Civil Rights found they neglected to execute a business associate agreement that spelled outpatient data protection before sending X-rays and other data for over 17,000 patients to a software company for digitization. Finding a VoIP partner who understands this area from a technical and compliance perspective is essential.
While your call center agents may be trained on how to follow HIPAA guidelines, if you are recording and transcribing these calls, you need a VoIP provider that is committed to data security and patient privacy. Healthcare VoIP service can actually improve compliance by centralizing this protected information under a single cloud, as opposed to each office and call center having their own local data repositories.
Healthcare VoIP service and the Telefuture
As the population continues to gray and more people live into their 80s and 90s (and beyond), the demands on the healthcare system will continue to grow. And, while house calls might not make a comeback in their original form, tools like 3CX web conferencing and text messaging provide new opportunities to redefine the patient experience and improve care.
At Voxtelesys, we take traditional healthcare VoIP service further, with an in-depth understanding of the needs of the modern healthcare organization. From sophisticated call center tools to robust compliance solutions, we have the services you need to turn your telecom into a powerful patient resource.
Learn more about how Voxtelesys can help build your patient relationships with high-quality VoIP and call center service solutions.