Essential Metrics for Improving the Healthcare Access Center Experience
In this age of consumerism, traditional access center metrics related to “call times” are no longer the most essential metrics for measuring performance. Instead health system access centers should focus on metrics that better demonstrate opportunities to optimize the access experience based on the desires and expectations of today’s consumers.
Here are a few metrics that access center leaders should be tracking to maximize patient satisfaction:
First-Call Resolution Rate
First-call resolution rate measures an agent’s ability to solve a consumer’s inquiry in the moment, without the need to transfer them or call them back. Healthcare is typically below other industries on this metric. An Accenture study highlighted that 63% of healthcare calls require a transfer to be resolved, which is six times greater than the national average for other industries. Clearly no one wants to be on the receiving end of having their call transferred, forcing them to start the entire “get to know you” process all over again. Unfortunately, many health systems can’t measure this rate today or get the insights they need to improve it, as they lack the basic information infrastructure to understand why a consumer called. The good news is that this is changing. As these organizations continue to revamp their information infrastructure, they should ensure that they will have the ability to capture this metric and understand what’s influencing it.
For scheduling-related calls, measuring conversion to booked appointments is key. Understanding why an appointment was not booked can ultimately pave the way for health systems to determine whether their supply of physicians is meeting the demands of their consumers. Monitoring this and seeing subpar results was a key reason Swedish Medical Center brought its previously outsourced call center in-house, enabling the organization to boost conversion dramatically. Health systems need to make it easy for patients to obtain a booked appointment with an appropriate provider, but there are many barriers to this, such as different EHRs in use across the network. Tracking this metric is the first step in removing those barriers though.
Nothing erodes the trust of a provider in their organization’s access center faster than not matching patients appropriately with them, which can hinder organizational efforts to centralize and scale access operations. However, agents typically are not clinically trained or equipped with the right tools to enable them to route patients with less guesswork. University of Alabama Birmingham Medicine is one health system that has empowered its access center agents with technology to facilitate better patient-provider matching and 70% of agent searches are now based on the patient’s specific clinical need rather than department or provider name. Because agents have detailed visibility into the clinical areas of focus of providers across the network, they are able to ensure appointment appropriateness.
No-Call Resolution Rate
A final key metric to consider is the no-call resolution rate – or the calls avoided entirely by offering compelling alternatives. Most of us don’t call travel agents to book a flight anymore; we do it ourselves on the web or in an app. How often do consumers go to your website for directions? Can they schedule an appointment online with their primary care or specialty provider? Can they reserve a spot online at an urgent care clinic? All of these self-service capabilities support no-call resolution. Not only do they meet consumers where they want to be, but they are also less expensive for health systems.
First-Call Resolution Rate, Call Outcomes, Appointment Appropriateness. and No-Call Resolution Rate are key indicators health system access centers should be tracking. By understanding these metrics, access center leaders will better position themselves to deliver customer experiences in line with 21st century expectations – and ensure their organizations stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape.