Managing Healthcare Calls While Working From Home during COVID-19

Posted by Ahmed Macklai on May, 13 2020 8:29 pm

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to unfold, many health insurance organizations are receiving much higher call volume than normal, with patients calling to ask how the organization is handling the COVID-19 outbreak. If you’re a health insurance organization dealing with COVID-19, you are likely receiving thousands or even tens of thousands of calls from patients inquiring about specific benefits and coverage policies as they pertain to telehealth services or home health visits during the outbreak.

As COVID-19 cases continue to grow exponentially across the United States, healthcare organizations are taking steps to ensure that patients and policy holders can access the testing and treatments they need. Some states are even issuing emergency orders, asking public health insurance organizations to waive deductibles and copays for patients who need tests now and suspend any prior authorization requirements for COVID-19 tests. This ever-evolving regulatory landscape poses challenges to healthcare organizations and drives patients and policy holders to call their providers in ever higher numbers.

Patients want to know now what their insurance policies are covering. This means your company is likely seeing significantly higher call volumes right now. But while your organization is handling the higher COVID-19 related call volume, you also must also handle the normal calls you receive about referrals and billing.

How to handle those normal referral and billing calls during COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is a scary and emotional time for everyone, including your call center agents and patients. But it is crucial that your call center is taking the time to answer and respond to everyone’s calls, whether they are specifically about COVID-19 or not. Use this simple guide to help prepare your call center to handle everyone’s calls.

  • Allocate separate COVID-19 teams. During this time, it makes sense to allocate separate teams for different types of calls. You can allocate one team to handle all COVID-19 specific calls. These include any calls about the new state mandates and emergency orders and how they affect patients’ insurance policies, as well as questions about early refills for prescription drugs and prior authorization for COVID-19 related testing. Then allocate a second team to handle all normal calls that you receive about referrals and billing. These are calls that you would receive under typical circumstances that are not related to the COVID-19 outbreak in any way. By allocating two separate teams to handling different types of calls, you are ensuring that those normal calls don’t get pushed to the wayside in favor of only addressing the COVID-19 related calls. Instead, normal calls and COVID-19 related calls are both being answered and addressed, just by two separate teams.
  • Update your scripts, rebuttals and knowledge base. Productivity is probably a huge issue for your employees right now, since most if not all of your call center agents are likely working remotely. You might also need to hire new employees to cover the higher call volume who are also working remotely. Acknowledge this reality in your scripts whenever possible.

    For example: “Thank you for calling ACME Insurance’s physicians referral department, this is Jane Doe and I am here to assist you. Thank you in advance for your understanding as I am working from home. How can I help you today?”

    Streamline access to answers about coverage impacted by COVID-19 by creating scripts and knowledge bases for your agents. ChaseData’s Agent APP allows the “docking” of any URL (for example a searchable knowledge base) to be visible throughout a call.

  • Implement call center software that performs remotely. Providing your customers with plenty of up-to-date accurate information about both changes related to the virus and typical billing and referral concerns is impossible if your system experiences downtime. Moreover, in this new normal of remote work, there is no longer a PBX phone to “fall back on.” ChaseData CCaaS guarantees unparalleled uptime, numerous automations to speed up work, voice mail, extensions, IVR and a host of other features that make working remotely reliable and easy.

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