Eight Ways to Simplify Healthcare Appointment Scheduling in Your Call Center

by James William

Patient scheduling and management is a serious business. There are many factors to consider, including insurance, terms, available appointments, etc. Furthermore, things rapidly get complex in the healthcare industry! It can make the responsibilities of your agents harder to fulfill in the medical appointment scheduling call center. It might be challenging for an agent to remember all they need to do when they have to learn how to schedule appointments for fifty or hundreds of different situations in patient care. Naturally, they are susceptible to errors or missing a step.

These things worry healthcare providers. At the very least, they know that optimizing overall scheduling procedures would increase their quality scores, and agents would experience less stress during the work. It doesn’t have to be so tough to make appointments. A knowledge base software or chatbot can aid agents in following the workflow and documenting the process. A medical appointment scheduling call center with these technologies can assist businesses in streamlining the scheduling method.

These eight strategies for facilitating patient scheduling by your agents have been compiled from experiences dealing with call centers that arrange appointments for various medical specialists.

Eight Effective Strategies to Make Healthcare Appointment Scheduling Easy

1. Create a simple call flow before answering the call.

Create a straightforward process for patient scheduling that your representatives can follow while on the phone. So, how will you recognize the patient and the call’s context? The answer is to write an easy-to-follow intake script for your agents to use while taking calls. Clearly state the actions that must be taken to schedule appointments in the right sequence in a script used in the medical appointment scheduling call center. Different situations might warrant different workflows, and your script used in the call center must be ready to accommodate these requirements.

2. Specialize reps

There are several ways to specialize in appointment booking and associated tasks in workplaces. You may allocate representatives to particular areas, offices, or appointment kinds and let them specialize in them to offer patients better appointment scheduling, rescheduling, or follow-ups.

Assigning representatives to individual offices can help them learn the differences; for instance, if your call center schedules patients for 30 offices, each of which is different.

On the other hand, if you book appointments for 30 identical offices, you may designate representatives to accept particular kinds of appointments. In order to handle procedures or rescheduled appointments, you might designate certain representatives to set up new appointments through your medical appointment scheduling call center. Assigning tasks based on the call’s complexity is also a wise choice.

3. Establish the degree of difficulty for various call kinds.

Not all phone calls are the same. You will encounter multiple challenges on some calls, while others will be easy to manage. Decide which appointments are “Easy,” “Medium,” and “Difficult” to arrange. By going through each step and determining how difficult the call is, you may assess the level of the specific call. Determine the number of steps and the number of variables that are introduced in a call. Are there many variables present? Can a call have many outcomes when a rep is on it?

A simple call won’t contain a lot of variables. It is a simple procedure that doesn’t take too long to finish. A medium-level call, however, has a few variables but is still manageable. The process isn’t too difficult to understand and implement. Calls with a high difficulty have many variables. They are an example of a decision tree where the caller’s response might send your representative in many different routes. A rep needs thorough instructions, training, scripts, and experience to accomplish these difficult operations.

However, having the same representatives handle the most challenging calls all day, every day, has the drawback that they burn out more quickly. So, medical appointment scheduling call centers must train and cross-train agents to prepare them to handle all sorts of requirements.

4. Use interactive voice response (IVR).

Knowing how challenging each call is can help you decide how to divide the calls as they come in. Not every representative should answer inquiries if you have specialist agents. For each of your specialist agents, that is an extra step.

Decide if it will be “easy,” “medium,” or “difficult” to arrange the appointment instead by using IVR (Interactive Voice Response) or a digital receptionist. It enables you to recognize the caller based on a set of parameters and route them to a knowledgeable representative who can assist them most effectively.

Instead, you might have one person direct them to the appropriate reps. You need an intake script that can rapidly identify the caller’s goal, whether you utilize an IVR or dedicated personnel to receive and distribute incoming calls in your medical appointment scheduling call center.

5. Add more complex appointments after starting with simple ones

Your reps might feel confident learning how to handle different kinds of calls as they get used to their specialized tasks. You should have a learning strategy that gradually introduces new recruits to all of your processes. If the appointments’ difficulty can be determined, you may classify them and give the representatives responsibility for them as part of a training program. Your cross-training schedule may resemble this:

  • Month One: New agent answers “easy” calls
  • Month Two: New agent answers “medium” calls
  • Month Three: New agent answers “difficult” calls

It enables you to train new reps to answer calls while they are still training. Instead of putting them through four weeks of training, you might put them through two to three days of instruction before letting them start taking “easy” calls. Give further training for learning “medium” calls after a month. Do one or two extra days of training to master “difficult” calls once another month has passed.

This way, your reps can handle any call after only 5-8 days of formal training in your medical appointment scheduling call center. It lowers the cost of employing new representatives for support and improves their working conditions and overall experience.

6. Identify the inquiries from calls and provide your representatives with resources.

Determine the inquiries that call representatives are receiving. Then, provide reps access to information that will aid in answering those particular queries.

If representatives are questioned, “Does Dr. X take Y’s insurance?” Give the representatives a tool that will enable them to find the solution fast. These resources can be used by employees in the process. One or more of these resources in the medical appointment scheduling call center can be:

  • Decision trees
  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Word is used to write procedures 
  • Written Procedures and guides
  • Knowledge base articles
  • Workflow articles

7. Instruct Reps to follow your processes on every call.

Every call should be expected to include the use of your process and information resources; therefore, ensure that they are constantly updated. Why do your reps need to follow your protocols every time they are on a call? It’s because your processes are always evolving.

Most businesses make weekly changes to procedures or reference materials (such as insurance information, transfer codes, or appointment availability). So, representatives, no matter how they try, cannot recall all of the changes. Therefore, they should utilize your resources to ensure they use the most up-to-date information for each healthcare customer support outsourcing call.

8. Show representatives how to handle calls.

Getting off the course is simple when patients take charge of a conversation and start chatting off-topic. Teach the representatives to listen to the caller and bring them back politely. The call must be within your control. The conversation might veer off-topic and take more time if one caller is in charge of directing it. Reps risk missing a step if patients ramble off facts in any old order. It makes it more challenging for agents to get the data required to arrange an appointment. The caller should be guided through the necessary actions in the proper sequence by the representative. The rep can simplify the call, and it takes less time to finish in the medical appointment scheduling call center.

Wrap-Up: Using Solutions to Streamline the Scheduling Process.

There are several possible outcomes when patients call to make a medical appointment. When you utilize these guidelines, your representatives will be better prepared to deal with the diversity of situations that may arise on the job. However, to ensure that your reps get the support they need when they do, you should keep help manuals and other resources available. Utilize tailored software solutions to simplify capturing and recording appointment scheduling in your call center processes. Additionally, upgrading your constantly changing help documents may be done in minutes instead of hours using chatbots and cognitive automation in healthcare customer support outsourcing.