Work-from-home mandates put healthcare practices to the test in 2020. However, the challenge of operating a practice remotely, albeit in the wake of a pandemic, might not differ greatly from the struggles healthcare practices face managing multiple office locations.
So, how can one scenario and approach inform the other? What can we learn?
Let’s start with the similarities:
In both scenarios, practices are asking questions like: How can our practice operate both consistently and efficiently from many different login locations for the long-term? What systems should we put in place to ensure the same professional, high-quality patient care experience every time? How can we maintain – or even improve – patient-centered communication across multiple locations?
Solving this means mirroring your operations at a separate location. However, the difference is howpractices arrived at this point and the expectations for either scenario.
Adding New Practice Locations
For expansion and growth, it is often assumed the next practice location will be configured just like the main office. Phones? Check. Printers? Check. Networking? Check. And so on. The mindset is about ensuring each location receives the same set-up and can operate like the others (though not necessarily with the others).
However, replicating a blueprint for each new office doesn’t create a location-neutral version of the patient experience. Most times, it’s exactly the opposite.
Often there are different phone numbers for each office. Staff members are specialized to support a certain provider and lack information on others. There is little visibility into what’s happening at the other locations and sharing information across sites often requires extra steps.
The unfortunate side effects of this model are:
- Office staffing that isn’t flexible or scalable
- Frequent scheduling errors
- Clinical staff are pulled into scheduling tasks
- The patient experience suffers
A Mindset of Extension vs. Replication
When there is a sudden need for an extension of your practice – such as a global pandemic – the mindset changes. Scenarios like pandemics, power outages, or natural disasters leave no room for planning. Your staff is in the office one day, working from home the next.
In these instances, the emphasis shifts toward access.
More specifically, care agents and practices are now thinking, “How can we access the appointment schedule, then quickly identify and alert the right patients with updates about office closures, then confirm appointment rescheduling. How can we update and document it all in a centralized location?”
A Patient Communications Platform
The “access” mindset helps crystalize qualities that solve for remote login access from multiple locations and seamless operations across several office locations:
“How can I EXTEND the operations of my practice to establish access that will REACH beyond the boundaries of a physical location?”
“How do we engage with our patients from various locations, using multiple communications tools – all maintaining the same professionalism and upholding our scheduling protocols?”
The solution for both business scenarios is an extended, integrated solution that enables transparency and supports a location-neutral, seamless patient experience.
How to find the right solution:
- Keep patient-centered communication at the forefront of your decision criteria. Features, integrations, and processes that appeal to staff should also deliver equal or better impact to the patients. Understand what your patients value (The ability to text the practice? The ability to chat online?) and make sure your communication platform supports their priorities.
- Challenge “the way we’ve always done it” mentality. Scheduling protocols are typically complicated with a lot of variables. Providers and departments often depend on a core group of people trained on their unique preferences. Separate “the work” from “the relationships with the people doing the work” to reduce the likelihood of becoming trapped in processes that no longer support the realities of your workflow.
- Don’t settle for a single-feature solution. Instead of adding another layer to your existing software, simplify. Look for ways to combine several existing features into one platform. Confirm the ability to integrate with other systems and data sources (like an EMR).
- Find inspiration in different operating models. Large healthcare networks and hospitals often move to a centralized scheduling model or a healthcare call center. With or without the outsourcing aspect, how could the workflows used in these models inspire the right solution for your office or department?
The patient experience is driving outcomes for practices and health systems in today’s demanding landscape. By keeping patient needs and expectations top-of-mind as you reimagine your call center, you can succeed in streamlining operations from multiple locations while simultaneously delivering attentive care to your patients at every turn.
Discover how the PatientSync healthcare call center platform can help your practice deliver concierge-style, patient-centered communication. Schedule your demo today.