First Call Resolution (FCR) rates measure whether or not patients’ needs are being resolved on the first call. But in healthcare, some patients inevitably need to call back: whether they need to reschedule or have a question for their provider. It’s true that it’s important to know that patients are getting what they need when they call but considering the nuances of call center performance in healthcare, and the varied nature of patient calls, there may be something better to strive for.
The industry benchmark for FCR in healthcare is 71%. If this number is truly representative of nearly 30% of patients failing to have simple needs met, like answers to care questions or appointments scheduled, then the industry has a lot of work to do. But as we mentioned before, First Call Resolution can be extremely difficult to measure accurately in healthcare and may not be indicative of what is really happening. For example, a patient makes an average of 3.5 calls per scheduled appointment, these include; calling about a symptom, calling to schedule an appointment, calling back after the appointment with follow up questions, and finally calling for a follow up appointment.
The point of measuring First Call Resolution is to gauge customer-service levels, agent performance, and ultimately lower unnecessary call volumes— to the benefit of callers and call center operations. Understanding that patients naturally make multiple calls per medical need, there may be a more significant approach than First Call Resolution that accomplishes all the same things, perhaps with even better customer-service levels. Rather than focusing on the single reason for a patient call, agents should anticipate the patient’s multiple needs.
Most access centers already utilize the provider’s EMR system and some form of CRM to verify patients’ data, enter new patients into the system, and schedule appointments. With this kind of high visibility into patient data, agents can anticipate patients’ needs, whether medication refills or upcoming screenings and preventative care. Aiming to tackle multiple needs per call, instead of just one, minimizes the number of times a patient needs to contact the access center, which accomplishes the goal of lowering call volumes. But most importantly, it significantly raises the customer-service level by providing greater personalization, and a phone experience that more resembles their care experience.
Adopting this practice can have a ripple effect of benefits for patients and providers. A reduction in call volume can ease the burden on access teams, resulting in lower wait times and improved abandonment rates, and other call metrics across the board. Additionally, giving this level of attention to a patient's upcoming care needs not only improves the patient experience through greater personalization, it increases scheduling volumes and ensures better patient outcomes.
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