How Automatic Call Distribution Affects Patient Experience

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The landscape of healthcare is rapidly changing. With an increase in patients seeking medical treatment, the way that patients experience care is also changing. In order to keep up with the rising demand, many pharmaceutical companies are turning to automatic call distribution (ACD) within their call center operations. 

While ACD is beneficial for managing high call volume, it can also have a negative effect on patients' overall experience. In this blog post, we'll explore how ACD affects patient experience and what call center directors can do to mitigate any potential negative impacts.

What is Automatic Call Distribution? 

Automatic call distribution (ACD) is a telephone system feature that answers calls and directs them to the next available agent. ACD systems are commonly used in high-call-volume environments such as healthcare and contact centers. 

When a caller contacts a healthcare organization, the ACD system will route the call to the next available agent who can best assist the patient. This helps to ensure that calls are answered promptly and by the most appropriate person. 

Benefits of Automatic Call Distribution 

There are several benefits of using an ACD system within a healthcare organization, including: 

  • Improved efficiency: Calls are answered more quickly and efficiently by routing them to the next available agent. 
  • Increased capacity: ACD systems help organizations to handle more calls without increasing staff levels. 
  • Data collection and reporting: ACD systems collect data on call volume, wait times, average talk times, and other metrics that can be used to improve operations. 
  • Improved patient satisfaction: By routing calls more quickly and efficiently, patients are less likely to experience long wait times or be transferred multiple times before speaking to the right person. 

Drawbacks of Automatic Call Distribution  

Despite the many benefits of ACD systems, there are also some potential drawbacks that can affect patient experience, including: 

  • Long wait times: If there are not enough agents available to take calls, patients may experience long wait times. This can lead to frustration and cause patients to hang up before they reach an agent. 
  • Inefficient call transfers: When calls are transferred multiple times before reaching the right person, patients may become frustrated or angry. This can damage relationships between patients and healthcare organizations. 
  • Missed calls: If calls are not answered promptly, they may go to voicemail or be disconnected entirely. This can result in lost opportunities to provide care or sell products/services. 

Although automatic call distribution systems offer many benefits for healthcare organizations, they can also negatively affect patient experience if they are not properly managed. In order to ensure positive patient experiences, call center directors should consider implementing some or all of the following strategies: 

  • Increase staffing levels during peak periods: This will help to reduce wait times and improve efficiency. 
  • Monitor ACD data regularly: This will help identify any potential problem areas so that they can be addressed quickly. 
  • Reduce hold times for important calls: Patients should not be kept on hold for long periods of time when calling about important issues such as medical emergencies or prescription refill requests. 
  • Use callback features wisely: Patients should not have to wait for extended periods of time when calling back about important issues.

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