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The Role of Healthcare Call Centers: Phoning in The Patient Experience?

In the US in 2021, the healthcare industry was worth around $808 billion, which makes sense with it being a sector that everyone has to cross paths with at one point or another. With such a massive range of patients, aka customers, it’s no surprise that healthcare call centers are such an essential limb of the industrial structure. 

Examples of excellent customer service in healthcare are defined by precision, empathy, and attentiveness, with efficient channels of communication an essential facet of any good healthcare provider. Both purpose-built and outsourced call centers for healthcare companies have become vital channels for said communication, offering patients a necessary method for contacting doctors, nurses, and other practitioners. 

We’ve put together this blog to put the spotlight on healthcare call centers, expanding on what they’re used for, how they can enhance the client experience, and more. 

The General Functionality of Healthcare Call Centers

A call or contact center in healthcare will largely be used for three primary purposes: triaging patients, organizing appointments, and providing real-time medical support to patients. 

Triaging Patients

A healthcare contact center will generally use trained personnel to determine how severe a patient’s needs are, following standardized protocols, algorithms, or methodologies to assign them to a doctor or surgery accordingly. Efficiency in these practices is vital for ensuring those with the most urgent concerns receive the appropriate attention promptly, along with optimizing resource utilization within physical facilities. 

Appointment Scheduling and Reminders

Healthcare call centers are the base of operations for scheduling appointments, generally utilizing software to manage slots, reduce wait times, and maximize the practitioner’s time. Many call centers will also send out appointment reminders with phone calls, text messages, and emails, helping to reduce the likelihood of no-shows or last-minute cancellations. 

Providing Medical Information and Support

Customer service in healthcare includes training for call center professionals, ensuring that they feel confident giving basic medical advice to patients, including knowledge about conditions, medications, treatments, and preventative measures. Part of this process includes applying a degree of empathy and compassion, ensuring patients feel reassured and comfortable throughout a conversation.

These are the literal functions of healthcare call centers, e.g. connecting patients with care, scheduling appointments, and providing some real-time medical information – but we’ve only touched on the value that they’re capable of providing. 

Enhancing Patient Experiences from a Contact Center

Having a positive customer experience has become more important in every industry, but it’s arguably more important in healthcare than any other. Remember that in this sector, people’s lives can be at stake and they might well be spending their life savings for the sake of treatment. 

When figuring out how to improve customer service in healthcare, it’s worth considering that these aren’t your typical customers, they’re patients. This means their needs and expectations differ significantly, even when talking to an agent over the phone. Two of the primary elements that every call center strategy needs to consider when speaking with a patient are Personalization and Accessibility. 

Personalized Communication: Patients don’t want to jump through too many hoops before a conversation becomes relevant to them and their situation. With call center technology like a CRM in place, communications can be personalized faster and more efficiently.

Accessibility: The nature of medical conditions is that they don’t operate following anyone’s schedule, meaning that patients can need access to communications at any and all times. Healthcare call centers need to provide 24/7 service as a bare minimum. 

When utilized correctly and operating to the right standard, call and contact centers in healthcare can offer massive value to patients. It’s just vital that each patient and their situation are treated as individuals with round the clock access to information. 

Call Centers for Supporting Healthcare Providers

It’s also worth noting that by outsourcing some responsibilities to call and contact centers, healthcare providers can take some of the pressure off of their operations. While receptionists and administrative staff will never leave the healthcare system, there are plenty of applications for call centers and contact staff. 

Offloading Administrative Tasks: Healthcare provision sites are often inundated with people trying to get in touch for endless different reasons, which is where a contact center can come in handy. Outsourcing these tasks allows providers to focus on in-person patient care, along with on-site admin staff being able to handle the more immediate tasks at hand. 

Data Collection: There are advanced call center technologies today that allow for staff in these sites to collect data, useful for identifying trends and metrics. This data can then be fed back to healthcare providers and staff, allowing for improved services. 

Facilitating Telemedicine: With the right degree of training and personalization in place, call centers can offer telehealth and telemedicine services. This allows independent staff to offer basic remote consultations and other conversational services. 

With the right technology, training, and focus, healthcare call centers can offer valuable support for the more frontline side of the medical field. This not only supports these staff members but also ensures that patients and customers receive better service across the board, with less potential for burnt-out providers.

Challenges & Solutions Faced by Healthcare Call Centers

Even with all the benefits that can be offered by healthcare call centers to both patients and frontline staff, there are still a range of significant challenges that they have to face. Whether working in contact center management or a healthcare facility, it’s important to keep these challenges and their solutions in mind.

Staffing Issues: It’s fair to say that call center turnover is pretty significant, regardless of industry, meaning service quality can shift regularly if not properly managed. This is why comprehensive agent onboarding and positive workplace facilitation are necessary. These practices ensure staff are trained well, sufficiently empathetic, and stay happy at work, helping to guarantee that service doesn’t dip too regularly or significantly. 

Technological Limitations: All call and contact centers rely on technology, meaning substandard systems will negatively impact the patient experience. Healthcare call centers must invest in user-friendly technology that supports smooth communications, allows for the efficient collection of data, and facilitates personalization. Regular reviews and updates of technological infrastructure are elements of good practice. 

Regulatory Compliance: In healthcare particularly, call centers have strict regulations and privacy laws to abide by, including but not limited to the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). This links back to the need for extremely high standards when it comes to agent onboarding, ongoing training, and general workplace behavior, supported by audits, compliance checks, and staff interviews. 

Language & Cultural Barriers: Everyone needs healthcare, and in a diverse country like ours this can present challenges in terms of language and cultural understanding which can in turn negatively impact service. This can be combatted and managed by hiring multilingual staff or interpreters, while also providing cultural sensitivity training. Technology like language translation software can also be utilized. 

High Call Volumes: With so many people trying to get in touch, there can be long wait times that result in patient dissatisfaction and frustration. Sufficient call center technology is necessary to route calls, prioritize urgent comms, and create queues of patients. Another solution is providing patients with additional options for communication, including instant chats or emails. It’s also important to adjust staffing based on call volume and demand. 

Of course, the healthcare sector is rife with challenges, and the call center side of operations is no different. With the right amount of modern technology and a focus on building a strong human side of operations, healthcare call centers can easily manage these challenges to provide the best service possible. 


With everything we’ve covered, it’s clear that call centers play a vital role in the landscape of modern healthcare. In the face of ever-growing demand, an increasingly diverse population, and the uncertainty posed by global health scares like the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for accessible communication and information is vital. However, to properly facilitate a good healthcare process, continuous improvement, adaptation, and a forward-thinking approach to technology within the call center is essential. 

For more insights about call center technology that could be used in healthcare, approaches to contact center management, and more, reserve your spot at Call & Contact Center Expo today. This event will bring together thousands of professionals in the field of customer engagement, along with speakers, business exhibitors, and more, so don’t miss out!