NHS Trusts are faced with making significant savings in preparation for a projected budget deficit of £30bn by 2020. The pressure to improve patient experience remains high, as does the pressure to do this with fewer resources. In the first blog in this series we draw on our extensive experience with NHS clients to share effective ways for hospitals and trusts to improve patient experience whilst increasing efficiently and reducing costs.
Meeting patient demand is challenging. The way patients make contact is evolving and the way we handle patient interactions is changing. By reducing the amount of patient effort required to contact hospitals and trusts, along with revolutionising the way patient information is processed, hospitals and trusts are able to do more with less.
Patient self-service – Many patient interactions into a hospital are for simple routine tasks such as confirming, cancelling or rebooking appointments, checking test results or updating patient information. For a large trust, these tasks occur hundreds or even thousands of times a day taking up valuable operator time when many patients could easily complete these tasks via self-service.
This is particularly true of patients updating contact information such as a phone number or home address, as well as those checking their test results. In our experience only 2% of patients would choose to speak to an advisor compared to an automated agent when receiving test results.
Another subsequent benefit of offering self-service to patients is a decrease in inbound communications as patients are able to complete many routine tasks at a time that suits them. This allows your operators to improve the quality of service they deliver to the remaining inbound demand, therefore improving the patient experience.
Adding the self-service functionality to your hospital or trust will have the combined benefits of reducing patient effort and increasing efficiency, effectively lowering costs on your organisation.
Universal queue – The NHS must continue to adapt to the increasing number of available channels of communication open to patients, and as a result they need to effectively manage these options to prevent problems. Patients now expect to be able to contact hospitals through email, SMS, web chat and also social media, creating a challenge of how to effectively route and queue these channels fairly and efficiently.
Implementing a universal or single queue for all communication channels helps to reduce queue times for all patients by increasing the efficiency of the team tasked with processing patient communications. This shortens the waiting time for patients, reducing their frustration levels and improving the patient experience as a result. Adopting a universal queue allows hospitals to have a tighter control of their staffing budgets, reducing staff overtime and saving significant amounts across staffing as a whole.
Using advanced contact routing functionality will allow for acceptable response times to be achieved for the various channels, this can vary from several hours or days for emails to mere seconds for phone calls and web chat. Combine skills based routing with configurable rules to allow supervisors to adapt and respond to the changing demand experienced by each channel across the day. Download our product sheet for more information.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog to learn how your hospital can reduce costly 'did not attends' (DNAs) and connect disparate systems for greater efficiency and cost savings.