Earlier this summer, I was invited to give the keynote address at the Twenty-Eighth Annual Healthcare Call Center Conference in Chicago. My topic: Change. Specifically, I was asked to speak about the dramatic and constant state of change we face in the healthcare field today. WOW! There was no shortage of fodder for this talk!
My presentation first explored some global changes in the healthcare industry — such as the shift from inpatient to outpatient care, volume-to-value based reimbursement, the consolidation of providers and the ever popular Accountable Care Act. Rest assured I moved through these quickly since I think we are all a little road weary hearing about them.
Next I touched societal changes – including the “digitization” of the universe as we know it. (I’m not at all sure if that is a real word, but you catch my drift). We also looked at the flip side which is the movement toward “re-humanization.” (Watch out Webster, I’m on a roll.)
But the lion’s share of my presentation was devoted to making change happen. As our healthcare systems gear up for population health, one imperative is to help our patients and members of our communities make positive and healthy behavioral changes.
OK, so what does all that have to do with call centers? In all honesty, I was worried about just that. I wondered if the attendees at the conference would stare at me like I was speaking Swahili?
As it turned out, I really was talking their language.
Perhaps the greatest change that occurred that day was the shift in my own perception of what call centers really do.
I discovered that in addition to the expected functions — making referrals and scheduling appointments — many call centers are deeply immersed in population health initiatives. They have sophisticated operations that offer outbound calling, texting and video visits designed to help patients make healthier choices, modify their behaviors, adhere to treatment plans and manage their chronic diseases.
The conference participants were excited to learn new skills that are grounded in behavior change theory. And as a healthcare marketer, I personally acquired a whole new respect for the role of call centers and the significant contributions they can make as our hospitals and health systems delve into population health and wellness.
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