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7 Ways to Tick Off Telehealth Patients


November 19, 2020

Extremely Frustrated Caller


Are you guilty of committing these common telehealth sins? They plummet customer satisfaction scores and derail patient-retention efforts. In the interest of improving the patient experience (since we are all patients as well), below are a few of the biggest offenders that can be easily mitigated with low-lift solutions. Solving these can quickly bolster your office’s patient-approval scores:

A dead-end IVR

“Please leave your name and number and someone will get back to you in 2-3 business days.”

Nothing is more aggravating than hearing a recording that practically tells the patient their call is unimportant. When offering branching options on your phone tree, medical facilities need to make sure they are being resolved in a timely manner – ideally at the time of call, but if not, then hopefully within an hour or two. The last thing any organization wants is for an annoyed caller to post their frustrations on social media for mass consumption. One issue can quickly snowball to hundreds of issues in a matter of days.

Follow-up for results; follow-up for prescriptions; follow-up for another damn thing…

Every. Little. Thing. Requires. Another. Call.

Not having your workflow streamlined can cause patients to need to call several times for different steps of the process. Having to call the organization again and again for the same reason can be a huge aggravation for the customers. 65% of customers agree that it is the largest flaw of the customer support system.

Waiting, waiting… waiting…

Waiting for the call to be answered. Waiting to be put on hold. If your organization is not able to meet reasonable targets for Average Speed of Answer (ASA) and total resolution time, then you need to execute a root-cause analysis, identify what is causing long waits and correct the issue(s).

The same thing is true of time spent on hold. If there is a need to reach out to someone else on your team. If you have to place a patient on hold, start off by asking the patient: “MAY I put you on hold”? While on hold, frequently check back with them, “Thanks for your patience, I’m still working with the department to get this taken care of”. Doing those simple steps reduces a lot of stress on the patient’s end.

Agents and staff not equipped to resolve the caller’s concerns

oh, um, I don’t know. Please hang on while I ask someone about that…

It is essential that patient access, nursing managers and analysts understand the many reasons patients have for calling in order to appropriately distribute the calls. Ideally, this is done via a designated queue to those employees prepared the specific reason for call.

However, several issues can spring out of this type of setup:

  • Call agents are human. Particular agents may forget certain steps in process and what to do. With an agent-monitoring, your management can quickly identify which agents need to be refreshed on training.
  • Avoid situations where and the agents don’t have the tools or skills necessary to do whatever the caller is expecting. Press Ganey conducts employee satisfaction surveys that specifically ask “do you have the tools you need to do your job” or “Did you receive the information you need to do your job effectively”?

If an employee is responsible for a task or knowledge about specific topics, then it is the organization’s responsibility to provide the training and tools required to carry it out. Set staff up for success!

Talking to Robots


Scripting and processes essential when there are multiple representatives responsible for answering phones and talking with patients. These represent standardizations and are at the heart of efficiencies and reliability from agent to agent. In time, the most skilled employees make the scripting their own and personalize the message crafted by the organization. That is great and helps create an amicable exchange of information. What we DON’T want are agents who read their scripts in a monotone, rapid, robotic manner.

Too Many Transfers and having to Repeat the same information over and over again

That’s a different department. Hold on, I think these guys can help you…

Does the Right hand know what the Left hand is doing?

In the call center world this question would never be asked if the organization had invested in a holistic healthcare CRM.

Care Desk is a next-generation Healthcare CRM that closely integrates with your other tools and software to provide users with a single seamless experience, eliminating the need to switch between disconnected applications, saving users time, and reducing error-prone data re-entry. It automatically stores all communication details about a person. All the information and data from the CRM follows the caller from agent to nurse to doctor to the lab and so on. There is one source of patient information, for everyone to refer to in real time. Patients no longer must endure the same repeated requests for date of birth, ss# or provider name and location.

Things not to say to a caller:

Nothing says, “you’re frustrating me,” like these phrases:

"Relax, take it easy"
"That is not my job"
"I have no idea"
"I’m going to put you on hold"
"I can’t do that"
"I’m going to hang up on you if you keep yelling at me"
"What do you want ME to do?"

Ticking off remote patients is really easy – just leave them as an afterthought! With a few changes to your workflow and scripting, you can make sure that the callers aren’t in anger-mode when your agents get on the line. No one wants to have to juggle a barrage of angry patients all day. Your staff will thank you!

For more information on how to solve these, check out the following resources:

Telehealth Maturity Model
Five Steps to Telehealth Digital Transformation
Nurse Triage Soft skills
Active listening
5 Steps to Turn Around Patient AngerUltimate Guide to Telehealth

About Keona Health

At Keona Health, we believe that relationships matter. We know that a clinic’s triage system can test a patient-doctor relationship, especially if a patient cannot easily get the help he or she is seeking. Keona Health offers healthcare software and automation solutions to ease the burden of telephone triage on medical practices and help medical professionals better communicate with patients.

Posted By

Gina Tabone

Gina Tabone, MSN, has 25+ years of experience in telehealth. She has consulted for physicians, health systems, call centers, & other healthcare entities.

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