Why Online Text Chat Is A Saving Grace For Front-Desk Hospital Admin

Hospital administrators are finding it more challenging to keep pace with increased workload. As such, there’s not a desperate scramble to find ways to make their work more productive. Faster processing is essential. 

But is it achievable? Well, that’s what the proponents of a chat bot for business applications are claiming. The idea is that the new technology will enable administrators to take on more conversations, fundamentally improving their productivity well beyond what is possible with conventional phone calls. 

This phenomenon emerges from the fact that phone conversations are inherently linear. Operators can only deal with one person at a time. 

But that’s not true when it comes to text messages. Administrators can potentially deal with multiple enquiries at the same time and even perform other activities in the small breaks between new messages from patients. 

Text-Based Chat Benefits

The purpose of this post is to look at why online chat might be a saving grace for front-desk hospital admin and how it is changing the face of clinical services for the better. It’s not perfect, but it is certainly an improvement on existing approaches that lead to overwhelm and error. 

Improved Patient Experience

Online text chat has the potential to improve the patient experience significantly. Individuals can receive quick answers to their questions in writing, making them easier to retain and refer to later.  

Furthermore, hospital admin can prepare cut-and-paste canned answers to improve efficiency further. For instance, they could add information about appointment times or addresses with a single click instead of getting agents to type it out. 

This approach means that patients benefit considerably from lower stress and uncertainty, too. Instead of waiting on the phone for a response, they can text an inquiry, get on with their day, and then look at the answer later, when it is convenient for them. Patients can also continue with any urgent activities without breaking up their time to talk to health representatives and professionals. 

Reduce Phone Usage

Online text chat is also infinitely scalable without increased network demand, which isn’t the case for conventional phone lines. While it is possible to install multiple terminals using old-fashioned technology, it is expensive and can’t grow easily as the clinic expands. New phone lines require physical installations to run, which is costly and disruptive for hospital operations. 

On the other hand, new text conversations require negligible bandwidth (which is the responsibility of third-party operators, not the hospital’s facilities management team). Administrators can conduct an unlimited number of conversations, cutting phone call costs and reducing reliance on older, less reliable technologies. It also cuts wait times, which again, helps patients feel less frustrated. 

Better Accessibility

Text chat may also offer patients improved accessibility, particularly those who are hard of hearing. Instead of picking up a phone, dialling a number, and trying to hear the person on the other end of the line, these individuals can simply type their questions. 

Texting in this way helps avoid confusion. Written language is often clearer and more precise than what people say over the phone. This way, text-based chat facilities at hospitals could also improve accessibility for people who don’t speak English natively.

Reduced Stress

A further benefit of text-based chat is how it transforms the level of stress that staff experience. Those using these systems are less likely to experience burnout compared to talking over the phone. Dealing with messages on a screen is often a more pleasant experience than talking to irate patients over the phone. 

Other factors contribute to lower stress levels, too. For example, when hospitals start using text chat, it frees up the phone lines for more complex calls. Patients can ask simple questions and get quick answers online while leaving the phones to the people who need immediate assistance or guidance. 

This shift in demand can reduce the amount of demand on front-line staff. Admin staff can focus on offering deeper value instead of constantly dealing with minor inquiries and hospitals can benefit from superior retention and morale. 

Higher Efficiency

Also, text-based chat could offer hospitals a way to improve the efficiency of front-line staff. That’s because workers can manage multiple patients at the same time instead of having to take calls in sequence. 

New operators can usually manage two patient chats at the same time. Most advanced and experienced colleagues can do four or more. This point reduces the labour burden of conventional hospital admin employees. Staff can deal with patient inquiries faster and more accurately without having to do complex work over the phone. Workers can also process questions faster, avoiding them having to wait in long queues, particularly at the start of the working day.

However, the ability to host multiple conversations isn’t the only efficiency benefit that text-based chat technology could bring. It could also offer many others, depending on how hospitals implement it. 

For example, text chat can automate a considerable chunk of conversations that secretaries and front-end staff have with patients. Tools can automate things like appointment bookings and cancellations, eliminating these as routine tasks.

Text-based chats can also enable staff to fundamentally change their workflows, opening up new opportunities for multitasking. Patients can wait a few seconds while front-end staff direct in-person patients or enter data into forms. 

Chat Transcription

Another way text-based chat is helping hospitals is by providing conversation transcriptions natively. Instead of relying on speech-to-text systems, hospitals can store chats in CRMs automatically, without having to include any intermediate steps. The software can then scan text to extract relevant details and build a comprehensive patient profile for future reference. 

The smartest hospitals are uploading this information into the cloud and using it across departments, creating a secure single source of truth for each person who interacts with the clinic. Professionals can then use this information to learn more about patients remotely and share information, without having to go back to the patient. 

Integrations With Administrative Software

Hospitals are also leveraging chat’s integrations with administrative software to further improve their workflows. Many tools can sit alongside conventional programs, with automatic AI-powered features to extract relevant information from chats and use it for improving admin in the hospital office.

Multilingual Support

Finally, online text also facilitates multilingual support for diverse populations. Hospital admin can collect linguistic information and then use real-time translation tools to deliver text that patients understand. 

What’s remarkable about today’s AI tools is that this ability applies to almost any language. Hospitals can communicate clearly with patients, even if they use a language that only a handful of people in the population use, which is helpful for the more cosmopolitan cities. 

How Hospitals Can Improve Their Communication Technologies

Hospitals are making improvements to their communication technologies, but they could be doing much more. Most medical establishments are leaving easy wins on the table instead of taking advantage of the available technologies. 

Modernise Infrastructure

For instance, many hospitals are still relying on outdated infrastructure installed thirty to fifty years ago. Many institutions are still using old-fashioned internal communication tools, relying on landlines or even using old video-conferencing tools that cost a fortune to keep running. 

At the same time, cybersecurity is taking a backseat. While most hospitals are encrypting conversations, the underlying IT network is easier to penetrate than many would think, exposing potentially sensitive information. 

Even Wi-Fi isn’t up to standard in many clinics. Patients and staff sharing the same systems, or the wireless internet is there for the benefit of visitors online, without providing any further operations functions. 

Optimise Workflows

Hospitals can also improve their communication technologies to optimise their workflows. Implementing a single integrated hospital EHR platform for communications, appointment scheduling and admin tasks can help to facilitate constant communication and eliminate redundancies in the system. Administrators can leverage things like smart alerts and automated notifications to better manage workflows, set reminders, and ensure that they complete all necessary tasks.

Patient-Centric Communication

We are also seeing a rise in demand for patient-centric communication. These are tools that facilitate more straightforward interactions between patients and the people serving them. 

For example, some technology companies are putting this like online portals for medical records and lab results online. These often combine with text chat to simplify communication and keep everything in one place. 

Text messaging is also playing a considerable role in patient service, facilitating: 

  • Updates on procedures and test results
  • Question answering
  • Appointment scheduling

As mentioned above, we are also seeing the emergence of real-time multilingual support. Instead of hiring expensive interpreters, machines are doing the language translation automatically. 

Staff Training

Finally, there is a considerable need for staff training and support to get everyone up to speed on how to use these new systems. Adding text chat without telling colleagues they can integrate it with the CRM or hold multiple chats at the same time is unlikely to yield productivity benefits. 

Take time to address the digital divide among staff members. Double-check that everyone is up to speed on how to use these systems properly. Ensure that administrators get the feedback they need to understand how to use tools efficiently.

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