HomeBlogUncategorizedRevolutionizing Healthcare Customer Service: AI in CallCenters and the Front Desk

Revolutionizing Healthcare Customer Service: AI in CallCenters and the Front Desk

In the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, a quiet revolution is taking place. Call centers, once seen as
mere answering services, are being transformed by the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI). From bustling hubs filled with rows of agents to small front desks where a handful of staff juggle phone calls with patient check-ins and check-outs, call centers are the lifeblood of healthcare. The constant stream of work and stress entailed by the staff who work in call centers, however, is underestimated and under addressed. The consequence is stark: nearly forty percent of call center staff leave their jobs each year.

Our blog, below, dives into call center staff’s job challenges and stress and how AI is a game-changer,
reducing staff stress and enhancing patient experience.

Call Centers: Beyond Answering Phones

The job responsibilities of a call center staff go far beyond answering phones. It also includes copying data between systems, initiating processes, verifying statuses, and coordinating follow-ups. All these tasks need to be performed while also managing emotionally charged interactions with patients who are upset about not getting their desired appointments, getting their medication refill, or the amount of their co-pay.

In addition to the intense multi-tasking, the constant influx of patient calls means that staff members spend long hours at their desks, often without a break. It’s no surprise, then, that burnout is common among call center staff, with many experiencing mental health issues such as persistent anxiety and depression.

This is where the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play. AI has the potential to transform call
centers into not just efficient workplaces but also stress-free environments for staff. It paves the way for a
future where healthcare customer service goes beyond merely answering calls to genuinely caring for patients.

AI Transforming the Landscape

First Outcomes, a pioneer in AI for healthcare front office, mid-office, and call centers, designed its platform from the ground up for a better, more humane, and respectful staff experience. The platform uses Conversational AI to handle routine calls, such as appointment scheduling, information requests, and prescription refills, which account for about 70% of all calls to medical practices.

With AI taking care of these calls, the staff have fewer calls to handle. This means they are less stressed. The calls they do handle are the ones that need a human touch, like when a patient needs to talk to the doctor about a new medication or needs a second opinion.

These conversations with patients are more rewarding for the staff. They’re not just solving problems; they’re building relationships with patients. They’re helping patients with their health concerns and making a difference.

Patients are happier too. They get to talk to staff who are patient, understanding, and not in a hurry. They feel like they’re being heard and cared for. This is the change that First Outcomes is bringing about – a change where technology helps people connect better instead of replacing them.

Conversational AI: A Game-Changer

Conversational AI is about teaching machines to understand and speak human language. But it’s about more than just understanding words and sentences. It’s about grasping the nuances of human conversation – the context, the subtext, and the intent.

Here’s how it works:
  • Understanding: Conversational AI uses a technology called Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP allows the machine to understand human language in all its complexity. It can understand different languages, dialects, accents, and even slang.
  • Processing: Once the machine understands what you’ve said, it needs to decide what to do with that information. This could involve answering a question, carrying out a command, or even asking you for more information.
  • Responding: Finally, the machine responds to you in a way that’s natural and intuitive. It uses another technology called Natural Language Generation (NLG) to create human-like responses.

The use of conversational AI is already widespread. Siri and Alexa use Conversational AI. Airlines, Hotels, and Credit Card companies use Conversational AI Virtual Agents to answer common questions. Healthcare, though, has lagged. First Outcomes is among the first to bring this technology to medical practices.

Generative AI: A Powerful Tool, but Not for Healthcare Conversations

While similar to conversational AI, generative AI focuses on creating entirely new content, like text, images, or even music that didn’t exist before, using learning from various sources on the web and other datasets.

While generative AI holds immense potential, it has a tendency to create “hallucinations.” These are instances where the AI generates information that appears real but is fabricated or nonsensical. For instance, if you ask a generative AI application for five examples of bicycle models that will fit in the back of a specific sport utility vehicle, and only three models exist, the AI application might still provide five — with two of them being entirely made up. This is an example of a “hallucination.”

In summary, Generative AI focuses on creating new, unique content. Due to the risk of hallucinations,
Generative AI should not be used for healthcare conversations. Instead, Conversational AI, which can
understand and respond accurately, is the preferred choice for healthcare interactions. This ensures both the accuracy of information and the safety of patients.

The Future of Healthcare Customer Service: A Human-Centered Approach with a
Technological Edge

The integration of AI in healthcare customer service is not a dystopian vision of robots replacing humans. Instead, it’s a story of empowering individuals to deliver exceptional care. By taking over the mundane tasks that often lead to burnout, AI frees up staff time, allowing them to focus on what they do best: connecting with patients on a human level.

This human touch is crucial in healthcare, where patients often navigate complex emotions and situations. Imagine a scenario where a patient, anxious about a new medication, is connected to a call center representative who is well-rested and equipped with all the necessary information.

This representative, freed from the burden of repetitive tasks, can devote their full attention to the patient’s concerns, answer questions patiently, and offer genuine support. This is the future of healthcare patient service – a future where technology enhances human interaction, not replaces it.

However, there is a caution: AI implementation must be thoughtful and responsible so that it augments instead of replacing staff and provides an enhanced customer experience. First Outcome implementation teams work carefully to ensure this is so, helped by the fact that the First Platform is designed from the bottom up for such an implementation approach.

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