Five Ways to Turbocharge a New Healthcare Contact Center

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As healthcare companies enter year two of the Affordable Care Act, a top priority for many healthcare insurers and payers this year will be to attract new members. Through 2014, more than 12 million Americans who didn’t have healthcare insurance prior to ACA are now covered, according to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

With an estimated 44 million more people coming into the market for insurance over the next two years and millions more to follow in subsequent years, payers will be competing against one another to sign up new members. Meanwhile, the consumer market will see an additional influx of consumers over the next several years as employers usher employees from employer-provided plans to individual insurance sold through public and private healthcare exchanges. A May 2014 study by S&P Capital IQ predicts that the majority of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies will drop 90 percent of their workforces from employer-sponsored health plans and send them into the public exchanges for coverage by 2020.

As market dynamics shift toward consumers shopping for health plans, healthcare insurers will need the expertise and agility to accommodate a torrent of consumer requests for information about plans, as well as the resources to onboard and support new members.

For many providers, a dramatic increase in consumer support traffic may require the need to rapidly expand or build new contact centers.

Here are five ways that a knowledgeable contact center outsourcing provider can enable healthcare insurers to ramp up new contact centers quickly and successfully:

1. Mastering site selection. Determining the optimal location for a new contact center involves many variables. A good starting point for site selection is to identify communities that are investing in healthcare skills development. Communities with universities and medical schools are endowed with medical professionals or students who may be looking to cultivate their healthcare industry skills and knowledge. An experienced outsourcing partner can help identify a potential talent pool within a particular geography while developing a career path that makes sense for would-be contact center associates.

2. Deploying proven, repeatable processes. A proficient outsourcing provider uses a blueprint that’s drawn on years of experience designing and ramping up contact centers for numerous clients across multiple industries. With this experience, a trusted partner can enter a facility, evaluate the technology needed, determine the anticipated call volume, predict the number of seats required, identify the customer channels to be supported, and go live within 90-to-120 days.

3. Identifying, recruiting, screening, and onboarding superior talent based on demonstrated hiring techniques. Finding and selecting contact center associates with the right mix of healthcare experience, empathy, and communications skills can be time consuming and challenging. A qualified outsourcing partner starts with an online assessment that’s customized for each client’s requirements, designed to ensure that qualified candidates meet a certain level of aptitude and ability. A verified pre-qualification approach enables the outsourcing partner to process thousands of applicants quickly and thoroughly. From there, face-to-face interviews enable employers to certify that they’re hiring the right people, and that the applicants fully understand the nature of the roles they’re being hired for. 

Meanwhile, the use of simulated customer calls phone calls can be used to confirm that final-round candidates are adept at handling unique customer requirements for health plans.
4. Priming for leadership development. Recruiting and training supervisors for a healthcare contact center is multifaceted. In addition to finding the right talent for these roles and putting new hires through a robust training program, the nature of open enrollment creates opportunities for some supervisors to take on bifurcated roles. During open enrollment, additional associates are brought on and supervisors are distributed to manage a variety of work teams. Once open enrollment closes and fewer seasonal associates are needed, some supervisors are transitioned back into associate roles. A trusted outsourcing partner that has honed that approach over time can clearly communicate to supervisor-associates what the expectations are for these positions. Meanwhile, contact center leaders who take on these split responsibilities are able to strengthen their skills and expand their career growth opportunities.

5. Tackling the complexity of reciprocal licensing for associates. Each state has a different process in place for associates to obtain reciprocal licenses for selling healthcare insurance (e.g., via online applications/direct mail, differences in background checks conducted, etc.). An outsourcing partner that has extensive experience handling state-by-state licensing requirements can remove these burdensome administrative tasks from healthcare insurers and ensure these processes are handled completely and accurately. 

As a part of the site selection process, a qualified outsourcing partner can target markets where there is an existing base of associates who are already licensed.
There are multiple advantages to working with an outsourcing partner that has the experience and track record needed to get a consumer-focused contact center operational quickly.

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