Beyond the Pandemic: Integrating and Scaling Telehealth and Patient Communication for the Future

Never before have healthcare contact centers, care facilities, and state agencies been as tested as they are today to handle the massive call volumes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Call centers have rapidly shifted entire agent workforces to work remotely, while patient communications platforms like the mobile-first Luma Health witnessed a nearly fortyfold increase in messaging traffic since the onset of the pandemic.

In a recent Cisco Investments-hosted webinar, Chris Swan, VP Business Development of the AI-powered conversational software Acqueon, and Dr. Tashfeen Ekram, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Luma Health, revealed how healthcare technology has quickly mobilized communication on the backend to assist contact agents and healthcare providers battling the virus on the front lines.

Joining Cisco’s Customer Contact Sales Specialist Laura Weaver and moderator Kathryn Howe, Director, Healthcare Digital Transformation, Americas Sales, the healthcare experts covered a range of topics from deflection strategies that can help offload agent call volume to government regulations, security concerns, and ways contact centers and telehealth might integrate to scale patient communication and care.

Three Recommendations From Our Digital Healthcare Experts

Leverage bots, scripting, contextual logic, and proactive outreach offset high call volume

By using logic-based deflection strategies, Swan and Dr. Ekram detailed how healthcare platforms are able to convert agent conversations into automated workflows as a critical means of freeing agent resources.

Chatbots that collect patient information, scripted messaging with contextual logic, and proactive outreach all offer relief for overwhelmed contact centers by pushing some of the call volume to alternate channels.

Integrate contact centers with telehealth to create a seamless virtual visit
Once regarded as an ancillary part of the patient-provider communication strategy, telehealth has been suddenly thrust to the forefront of the industry as a go-to remedy with a bright, here-to-stay future.

Quickly recognizing the value telehealth offers in the midst of this pandemic, government agencies have relaxed certain regulations, opening the door to greater use of this technology.

As a case in point, Cisco Webex-enabled contact centers were able to set up in a matter of days in the UK and the San Francisco Bay Area. “We never thought we could do that in five days, but we learned that we can with the technology,” said Weaver. “That’s the kind of agility we need to think about moving forward.”

Looking toward the future, Dr. Ekram and Swam described how contact centers will need to coordinate with telehealth to schedule the virtual video session, obtain consent, remain compliant with HIPAA rules, and follow-up with the patient.

Scale for a permanent telehealth footprint

Already, non-COVID-related healthcare segments are engaging with telehealth platforms out of necessity and in ways they never once thought possible.

Consider the physical therapy student, caught mid-semester out of school, who’s fulfilling her hands-on training via video, or the sports medicine and ear, nose and throat physicians diagnosing patients on virtual platforms.

“Most of what they need to do can be done outside a clinic,” said Swan, “so there’s been a huge boon from ‘how do you integrate it into the business as usual?’ That’s where we’re spending a lot of brainpower.”

But scaling telehealth and integrating contact center support will require providers to re-evaluate what they may have viewed previously as a temporary, standalone solution.

Telehealth platforms will need to integrate within contact centers’ existing workflows and, as Weaver pointed out, meet long-term security protocols by operating off secure infrastructures with VPN.

“You may only be doing a few of your visits over telehealth now,” Dr. Ekram said, “but this is going to be the new norm, so you’ll want to make sure the solution that you choose can scale for the larger volume that we’re going to see.”

Don’t miss this insightful glimpse into how the healthcare tech industry is preparing for the next set of challenges as contact tracing, regulation changes, and other new developments shape the “new normal” of our future.

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Additional resources:

Five-Stage Framework For Healthcare Managing The Covid-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 – Crisis management checklist fo contact centers

 

About the author: Pradeep Paniyadi joined Cisco Investments in 2019. As a Relationship Manager, he serves as a trusted partner for our portfolio companies, helping them navigate Cisco’s vast ecosystem and making powerful connections with Cisco’s business entities.

 

 

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