Top 10 Challenges Patients Face Interacting with Patient Support Contact Centers and What to Do About It.
Patient support contact centers play a crucial role in assisting patients throughout their healthcare journey. These programs:
- Provide information and education.
- Offer emotional support.
- Improve treatment adherence.
- Enable access – financial assistance, transportation.
- Assist patients in navigating the healthcare system.
- Drive engagement for improved outcomes.
- Solve challenges that patients and caregivers face.
These centers are a vital touchpoint that improve patient experiences, adherence, access, engagement, and health outcomes. However, interacting with these programs can present various challenges for patients. Here are common patient challenges and solutions aimed at improving patient outcomes and removing barriers.
Challenge 1: Patients often contact support programs seeking medical advice.
- Equip agents with clear scripting that emphasizes their role in providing education and support rather than medical advice.
- Agents can build rapport by focusing on what they can do to assist the patient and do what they can to address their needs.
- Encouragement and positive affirmations can motivate patients to seek guidance from their healthcare providers, ensuring personalized support.
Challenge 2: Complex medical information is confusing and makes it difficult to understand or retain.
- Make medical information easily understandable by using accessible, precise, and simple language tailored to the individual, avoid the use of acronyms or medical jargon.
- Use open-ended or checkback questions to check for comprehension and address confusion.
- Showing empathy when patients express frustration or confusion builds trust and creates an inclusive environment helping patients feel heard and validated.
- Use patient-focused scripting that explains health conditions, medications, or treatments in clear and understandable language to educate and empower patients.
- Tracking and analyzing frequently asked questions allows for regular updates to scripting and agent resources, ensuring information remains current and relevant.
Challenge 3: Confusion around navigating care and complex healthcare systems.
- Providing patients with clear and concise explanations of the next steps in their care helps alleviate confusion.
- Checkback questions can be a useful tool to ensure patients understand the information shared and helps avoid repeat calls for the same issue.
- Clear guidance on who to contact for specific needs and access to necessary resources simplifies navigating the healthcare system and helps patients more effectively manage their own care.
Challenge 4: Side effects can decrease treatment motivation.
- Acknowledging and validating the physical and emotional challenges patients face is crucial in motivating patients and promoting treatment adherence.
- Providing genuine empathy and reassurance, emphasizing progress and the patient's efforts can create a safe space for the patient to express themselves.
- Using positive language that focuses on patients' efforts and progress encourages them to continue with their treatment plan.
- Encourage patients to discuss any concerns or side effects with their healthcare provider before making any changes to their treatment plan.
Challenge 5: Financial constraints or lack of insurance can limit access to medications and treatments.
- Equip agents with resources to refer patients to appropriate access and reimbursement and patient foundation programs to overcome financial barriers. These resources help patients explore avenues for financial assistance, ensuring they have access to the medications and treatments they require.
- When discussing assistance and copay programs, agents should communicate simply and clearly to ensure patients understand their options and who they can reach out to for more support.
Challenge 6: Emotional needs.
- Some patients need help coping with their condition or do not have anyone else to talk to. Showing genuine interest can build connections with patients and identify their emotional needs.
- Utilizing motivational interviewing techniques: open-ended questions, reflective listening, and affirmation statements, allows agents to support patients beyond their medical concerns.
- Knowledge of support resources specific to the patient’s disease state, such as local or national support groups, allows agents to provide valuable assistance beyond what they can provide over the phone.
Challenge 7: Lack of patient engagement in outreach calls.
- Tailor conversations to patients' needs by asking probing questions and center the call around addressing those needs rather than following a scripted approach.
- Intentionally focus on the patient through active listening and engagement to help the patient feel their time is valued.
- Engage patients in two-way dialogue using motivational interviewing techniques. This approach empowers patients and fosters a deeper connection, improving overall engagement.
Challenge 8: Transferred to multiple departments before needs are addressed.
- Implement clear IVR (interactive voice response) systems for easy navigation, reducing transfers, and removing friction.
- If a transfer is needed, ensure a brief time in queue for transfers and warm transfer between agents to reduce the need for the patient to repeat information. Keeping the experience as frictionless as possible.
- Assigning dedicated case managers who support patients throughout their treatment journey ensures continuity of care, providing a personalized experience that makes patients feel valued and supported.
Challenge 9: Language and cultural barriers.
- Employ multilingual agents or provide access to interpretation services.
- Provide agents with cultural sensitivity training to ensure they can navigate diverse backgrounds and customs respectfully.
- Provide translated educational materials and resources to improve patient comprehension and engagement.
Challenge 10: Limited accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
- To promote inclusivity, ensure that support services, phone lines, and online platforms are accessible for individuals with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments.
- Provide agents training on how to effectively communicate with and accommodate unique needs to provide a supportive and equitable experience.
Patient support programs play a vital role in delivering essential assistance and guidance to patients throughout their treatment journey. It is crucial to recognize and address the challenges patients face to enhance their outcomes and eliminate barriers. By implementing solutions that specifically target patient challenges, we can foster a more patient-centric approach that prioritizes their needs and ensures they receive the necessary support. A patient-focused approach improves the effectiveness of patient support programs and enables comprehensive care, ultimately leading to positive patient outcomes.
At Centerfirst, every day we work towards our Just Cause of living in a world where every patient's voice is clearly heard, and every patient's need is completely addressed. We understand how crucial it is to listen to the voice of your patient and continually strive to improve the patient's experience.
Are you ready to improve your patient’s experience? Contact us to learn more.