• September 30, 2022
  • By Amy Brown, founder and CEO, Authenticx

4 Ways Healthcare Orgs Can Turn Contact Centers into Insight Centers

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Healthcare organizations understand the power of data. But data comes in two forms: structured and unstructured. Think of structured data as information that neatly fits into spreadsheets and databases and can be easily translated into numbers for analysis, whereas unstructured data cannot be processed and analyzed with conventional tools and methods due to its complexity.

Human conversations are one example of an unstructured data source. 

Every day, customers call or chat with contact centers and express that times are tough, and they need help: A mom might call in tears because she received another bill for her child’s care, but she can’t afford to pay it. A caretaker might share that looking after an elderly father and his increasing care needs is taking a toll and she feels burned out. 

When aggregated, these conversations serve as a powerful source of truth for addressing systemic barriers that lower accessibility and quality of care—and this data already exists in contact centers. Because social determinants of health (SDOH) factors aren’t directly related to a patient’s physical health, they’re often hard to identify since patients don’t always feel comfortable disclosing those details. Yet whether or not organizations realize it, customers are sharing indicators of SDOH in daily, routine conversations. Unsolicited conversational data offers incredible insight into patients’ lives, struggles and healthcare goals.

These positive and negative social circumstances impact patients’ healthcare decisions within every interaction and include insights about these factors:

  • Access to safe housing, neighborhoods and transportation.
  • Violence, racism and discrimination.
  • Access to education, sufficient income and job opportunities.
  • Access to nutritious food and opportunities for physical activity.
  • Polluted air and water.
  • Developed language and literacy skills.

Addressing SDOH with thoughtfulness and intention builds positive patient relationships and improves community health outcomes. These four strategies use conversational data to improve health outcomes strategically.

  1. Collect and listen to unsolicited feedback.

Many healthcare organizations use surveys to collect SDOH data. While surveys do contain feedback and data insights, there are downsides to solely relying on surveys to gather customer feedback. Survey results are limited, skewed, and don’t represent the entire patient population.

Alternatively, organizations can (and should) source unsolicited intel from conversational data. Organizations relying on unstructured data for insight are 24 percent more likely to exceed their business goals. This type of feedback can be found in any type of bidirectional conversation and includes the thoughts and perceptions patients freely express. Instead of answering a question, patients organically tell employees what’s on their minds which provides context into callers' social and environmental factors and creates opportunities to develop an action plan to address any barriers. 

For example, a company could adjust its messaging and call scripts if customers share their frustrations about cost and access. Or perhaps the company switches gears to offer more specific, personalized information about benefit statements and pricing.

Access to all customer interactions delivers insights along the continuum of customer satisfaction, not just the highs and lows reported via surveys. 

  1. Pinpoint quality and access indicators.

Research shows that SDOH factors can drive as much as 80 percent of health outcomes. For example, patients who lack access to transportation or internet may skip vital healthcare visits or miss out on telehealth and patient portal tools. These obstacles may prevent them from completing suggested care plans and receiving life-saving medications.

It’s critical that healthcare organizations pinpoint social issues impacting their patient populations in order to improve patient satisfaction and accessibility. Listening directly to conversations happening in a contact center provides unsolicited patient perspectives and surfaces common themes, barriers to access, and knowledge gaps being expressed by patients. These insights can guide teams to strategically develop programs that solve and address SDOH disparities. 

  1. Refocus communications and response plans.

Acquiring near-real-time customer behavior indicators from conversational data enables healthcare systems to intervene swiftly and deliver assistance. SDOH insights help guide where to route resources for programming and other strategic initiatives. 

To learn about the nature of SDOH factors and create a communication strategy that addresses these needs, organizations can do the following: (1) study conversational data to identify key themes, trends, and insights; (2) listen to conversations at scale to help develop response plans, improve call scripts, and better equip contact center agents; (3) identify the natural language patients use to help guide messaging for community resources, tools, and other support programs; and (4) understand how people express real-life scenarios so employees can be trained to recognize SDOH factors and be appropriately connect callers to helpful resources, programs, or teams for additional support.

  1. Invest in employees with enhanced training opportunities.

Conversational data helps solve health disparities by providing a pathway for providers to empathize and understand their patients’ challenges. Acknowledging social factors impacting a healthcare system’s surrounding community offers a tremendous opportunity to provide relevant use cases and training for front-line agents and employees. These glimpses into patient struggles, frustrations, and fears offer valuable insight and identifies opportunities to take action.

Investing in employees through enhanced training better equips them to deliver on brand promise. This investment can include scenarios, scripts, message responses, emotional support, and common FAQs. 

Healthcare organizations need to recognize that contact centers are insight centers. Investing in conversational data offers organizations a powerful strategy for addressing systemic barriers that lower accessibility and quality of care. 

Amy Brown is the founder and CEO of Authenticx, a software platform that analyzes and activates patient voices at scale to reveal transformational opportunities in healthcare. Brown built her career as an executive in the healthcare industry, during which time she advocated for underserved populations, led and mobilized teams to expand healthcare coverage to thousands of Indiana residents, and learned the nuance of corporate operations. Brown founded Authenticx with the mission to bring the authentic voice of the patient into the boardroom and increase positive healthcare outcomes.

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