Make Remote Work the New Normal for Healthcare Call Center Agents
In this article, published in April 2020 by Healthcare Business & Technology, Shawn Yates discusses how, with the right software tools, healthcare providers can track work-from-home agents, measure their performance and much more.
Remote work has grown 44% over the last five years and 91% since 2010. While this employment trend is accelerating in nearly every industry, some industries—including healthcare—lag behind. This can be problematic for healthcare providers, especially in light of the industry’s high turnover rates. Modern job candidates and employees are continually seeking new benefits for higher job satisfaction, and remote work is at or near the top of the list.
Now that the COVID-19 crisis has upended call center operations and forced many employers to resort to remote work, healthcare providers are faced with the challenge of providing enough oversight to keep agents productive and patient accounts moving.
When teams are physically separated, technology can close the gap. Modern software can not only track agent productivity, but also provide managers with the ability to measure the performance of work-from-home employees. Real-time performance data also allows for timely coaching, which can even be lacking in physical call centers.
Once the current crisis passes, managers can use today’s performance data to grant or revoke more permanent work-from-home arrangements on an individual basis.
Here are three reasons why providers should consider allowing their call center agents to work from home post-COVID-19 with the help of modern technology designed for this purpose.
A remote work option creates a strong applicant pool
Prior to COVID-19, the unemployment rate in the United States had dropped to just 3.6%—the lowest since 1969. While job seekers have more opportunities available to them when unemployment is low, this complicates the hiring landscape for businesses—especially those that don’t offer a remote work option.
Many healthcare providers have already invested significant resources in moving their A/R teams to remote work, so they’re inclined to stay the course. Long term, this decision will no doubt pay off. Work flexibility is a deciding factor for candidates, according to 51% of hiring professionals; remote work options give healthcare providers a significant advantage over competitors that may not offer this type of flexibility. Providers can build a strong pipeline of applicants, and retain top talent long term, by offering a remote-work benefit.
Flexible work arrangements boost productivity
While many employers have avoided work-from-home arrangements out of concern for declining productivity, studies overwhelmingly show that remote work boosts productivity. In a 2018 Indeed survey, 57% of remote workers indicated they are more productive when working from home, and 72% of employers surveyed said their remote workers are more productive. Just 3% of employers felt their workers are less productive at home than in the office.
Using modern revenue cycle management platforms, managers can view collector productivity in more detail. They can see how agents spend their time and what’s happening during payer and patient calls. At the same time, automation can equip remote agents with the information they need, streamline account work, dramatically reduce payer hold times, and enhance QA processes. With more robust managerial support and advanced tools, agents can maximize their time, resolve accounts more quickly, and grow professionally—the keys to a consistently productive remote workforce.
As an employer, you’ll establish a foundation of trust
Regardless of industry, managers tend to distrust their employees. Many employees know their managers don’t trust them, and they don’t trust their managers either—often due to overbearing management practices. Research confirms what common sense tells us: this mutual mistrust erodes employee productivity and loyalty.
Allowing employees to work remotely is a show of trust, which breeds more trust. With a technological infrastructure that offers managers detailed visibility into agent performance and allows agents to enhance their value to the organization while working from home, you can strike the right balance between effective performance management and individual autonomy. As a result, you’ll build a happier, more loyal team and motivate employees to produce better results.
In healthcare receivables, agent productivity is vital. But productivity gains depend on a number of factors, from morale and retention on the front line to real-time performance management to automation tools that allow agents to accomplish more and excel in their jobs. Remote work, supported by modern revenue cycle platforms, affords all of these advantages—and is a permanent change worth making.
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