Healthcare outsourcing is growing—estimated to reach $66.3 billion by 2025, according to some reports. But what’s leading the growth in this sector?
If you work in management at a healthcare organization, you can probably wager a guess at the answer. Decreased budgets, increased demands, growing burnout among healthcare workers across all positions, increasing need for security and data privacy, and growing patient expectations all contribute to the desire and need for outsourced support.
But outsourcing in healthcare isn’t always simple. Healthcare comes with specialized needs, increased security concerns, and high expectations for empathetic, personalized care.
Our team has over 40 years of experience managing customer service outsourcing in healthcare and similarly high-touch industries—here’s what you need to consider before you start outsourcing.
Benefits of Healthcare Outsourcing
One of the first things to consider before outsourcing anything is:
How is this going to benefit our organization?
Outsourcing offers a variety of benefits to healthcare organizations, but getting clear on what your goals are, what results you’d like to see, and what benefits are most necessary for outsourcing to be worth it for your team will ensure that you can design a successful partnership. Here are a few key benefits to consider:
Cost-efficiency and budgetary flexibility. Modern healthcare organizations have more than ever to do, and less budget to work with. Outsourcing provides increased cost-efficiency and flexibility even while providing excellent service. For example, outsourcing can:
- reduce labor costs, by providing on-demand labor for call centers, customer service, administrative tasks and other non-clinical functions
- reduce HR costs by outsourcing HR functions or hiring an outsourced team
- reduce real estate and overhead costs by using outsourced teams
Access to skilled and trained professionals. Healthcare is a sensitive industry, so you can’t just hire anyone. Your teams—especially patient-facing teams—need to have a high degree of emotional intelligence and sensitivity, so finding skilled professionals who are familiar with healthcare operations is crucial to providing excellent patient experiences. With outsourcing, you can access skilled, experienced professionals right away, rather than having to search for, hire and train individuals for internal teams.
Scalability and flexibility in operations. As burnout continues to be on the rise in healthcare in both clinical and non-clinical positions, outsourcing is an excellent way to increase your team’s scalability and reduce workload on internal staff. Outsourced teams are much easier to scale, allowing for quick and agile changes due to seasonality or workload demands.
24/7 customer support availability. Nonstop support is essential for healthcare organizations. After all, emergencies don’t happen solely between 9-5, so patients should be able to contact your office or organization at any time. Whether it’s asking a question about their condition, insurance, prescription or something else, an outsourcing team can expand your customer service to provide your patients with round-the-clock support.
What Makes Healthcare Outsourcing Unique?
Outsourcing provides some significant benefits for healthcare organizations—but healthcare organizations also bring some unique needs to the table. Partnering with a healthcare-focused BPO provider ensures that your outsourcing experience factors in these unique needs, such as:
Handling sensitive patient data. While any outsourcing provider should have policies in place to carefully handle and protect customer data, in healthcare, such security is paramount. With increasing privacy and compliance regulations, a healthcare outsourcing center will know how to manage both sensitive patient data and changing healthcare regulations.
Staying compliant with healthcare regulations. In addition, healthcare outsourcing providers will be HIPAA compliant—and can manage updates and compliance for your organization. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations don’t have the internal software or resources to manage HIPAA compliance entirely in-house. A BPO partner can ensure you stay compliant.
Navigating complex healthcare queries. Healthcare outsourcing needs to be able to navigate extremely specific, complex and unique questions from patients. Not all call centers are prepared to navigate this level of complexity, which is why the training and experience of healthcare outsourcing agents are crucial. In addition, this level of complexity makes it difficult to automate the customer service process, further enhancing the need for the human touch throughout your operations.
Dealing with emotional concerns. For many, health-related concerns are an emotional and delicate topic. As such, healthcare BPO providers must provide the emotional quotient alongside the skills and technical knowledge. Dealing with high stakes and high emotions requires a skilled, compassionate human touch to manage effectively—a quality that sets healthcare outsourcing apart from other outsourcing centers.
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Ensuring Data Privacy and Security in Customer Service Outsourcing
When considering outsourcing elements of your healthcare services, ensuring data privacy and security is a must. Healthcare-focused BPO providers have to provide a higher level of security, compliance and privacy regulations, which other outsourcing providers may not focus on.
Outsourcing to a non-compliant call center can put your healthcare organization at a massive risk if patient privacy or data is compromised. Even if your call center has limited data access, HIPAA violations can be costly. That said, adhering to HIPAA standards is a must—and something that healthcare outsourcing can support you with.
In addition, healthcare organizations must train agents for security and data confidentiality. Your outsourcing team can help provide the training necessary to ensure all of your agents can support and adhere to compliance regulations. Finally, you should also ensure you have the technical support and capacity to securely manage data transfer and storage.
Quality Assurance: Maintaining High Service Standards
Another key element to consider with healthcare outsourcing is quality assurance. Any good outsourcing team should have regular quality assurance processes and best practices, but this is especially important when it comes to healthcare.
Quality assurance can look like:
- providing regular training and skill upgrades for agents
- implementing continuous improvement mechanisms
- having regular feedback loops to ensure ongoing improvement
- having QA processes to ensure adherence to service level standards
- implementing technology to monitor adherence and ensure excellence
Regular feedback loops are a core part of a good QA program, as it allows all partners in the process—from customers to agents to management and beyond—to provide feedback on the process and experience, allowing you to implement improvements and strengthen quality from all angles.
For example, at Global Response, we offer a fully integrated and transparent quality insurance solution that helps you:
- make informed business decisions
- track business and healthcare trends
- drive growth and service levels
- provide visibility into areas for cost savings, operational efficiencies, and more.
Not only that, but our time-tested QA process uses quality-related metrics to deliver insights into both your customer’s experience and your team’s soft skills and emotional empathy and performance.
Choosing the Right Customer Service Outsourcing Partner
So, how can you choose a customer service outsourcing partner that meets and exceeds your needs as a healthcare organization?
Look for three key principles:
- Expertise in the healthcare domain. As we’ve discussed above, healthcare is a specialized industry that requires specialized expertise to ensure successful outsourcing. As a result, during your vetting process, you should carefully evaluate any potential providers’ expertise within the healthcare space. A list of past or current clients, or case studies showing their experience within healthcare, should be sufficient to determine their experience and expertise.
- Compliance and security protocols. Given the complexity and importance of compliance and security in the healthcare space, ensuring your potential provider has the necessary protocol to both manage and maintain your compliance and data security is a must. Carefully check that their compliance records are adequate, that they have essential security protocols in place, and discuss with your potential provider what protocols are in place for security and privacy.
- Effective training programs and quality control. Without effective training programs or quality assurance processes, even the best outsourcing teams would flounder over time. Ensure that your partnership will provide high-quality service for years to come by carefully assessing training processes—both initially for new agents, and ongoing training—and quality control upfront.
The Future of Customer Service Outsourcing in Healthcare
One of the biggest changes to healthcare in the last few years has been the growing increase in telehealth. Behavioral telehealth visits are up 45-fold since the pandemic began, and overall telehealth visits have increased 338% since 2019.
As a result, the digital patient experience is becoming increasingly important as patients begin to act more like consumers and expect higher levels of customer service and patient experiences from start to finish, and across the digital and physical worlds. As such, customer service outsourcing is becoming more common—and more essential—for busy healthcare systems that are struggling to provide the level of customer care and support modern consumers expect.
Customer service outsourcing can also help aid in digital transformation, another essential factor in the modern patient experience and satisfaction levels, and healthcare compliance. As HIPAA factors continue to change and be updated, especially with increasing levels of digital healthcare in mind, an outsourced team can provide resources and strategy that’s unavailable in-house to provide better experiences and stronger compliance.
Conclusion: Making Your Healthcare CX Outsourcing a Success
At Global Response, we have 40+ years of experience in customer support. Our teams are always focused on bringing you the best brand experiences possible, delivering human-first, empathetic support experiences that are seamless with your provider and in-person support.
We’re committed to:
- managing customer engagement at every step to help you scale your team
- maintaining highest standards of data security
- enforcing our rigorous standards for meeting HIPAA requirements
- providing you with skilled agents knowledgeable about employer benefits, insurance, coverage policies, and more
- offering the best bedside manner in the business
- and more.
For healthcare outsourcing that you—and your patients!—can count on, contact Global Response. We’re here for you, so you can be there for your patients.
Hospitals can outsource a wide variety of tasks, including:
- medical coding and billing
- claims processing
- data entry and other administrative tasks
- appointment setting and follow-ups
- insurance processes and hotlines from patients
- customer service
- membership and provider services
- and more!