Hidden Costs of Traditional Patient Engagement

Many healthcare executives are slashing budgets as they deal with the financial fallout from COVID-19. Administrative support and call centers may seem like low-hanging fruit since they do not appear to impact patient care. However, health systems still need to engage patients before, after and during treatments. Here's how SMS-based patient engagement delivers efficiency and the communications patients want and need.

August 25, 2021

Many healthcare executives are now tightening their belts and slashing their budgets as they look to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re among them, administrative support and call centers may seem like low-hanging fruit, especially since these high-cost areas don’t have an impact on direct patient care.  However, health systems still depend on these functions for enabling patient engagement - using tedious phone calls and direct mail for everything from appointment management to satisfaction surveys. That’s precisely why organizations like yours are looking for new ways to replace human-powered patient outreach, primarily via automated, SMS-based patient engagement.

There are many compelling reasons to “cut the cord” on traditional engagement, and the hard costs associated with mailing and calling patients are just the beginning. Hidden costs associated with outdated patient engagement modalities include the following.

•    Lowered productivity and efficiency. 
When you consider how much time your nurses and administrative staff spend contacting patients for clinical follow-up, appointment management, and educational messages, turning to an automated approach makes sense. A recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers (alt PwC) report showed 36 percent of CEOs aim to focus on productivity through technology and automation, more than double since 2016.

•    Increased burnout. 
The global pandemic has taken a toll on healthcare workers, with AMN Healthcare predicting that provider burnout and disengagement could be the most disruptive force now facing healthcare. Reducing the hours, stress, and strain associated with traditional engagement is one step toward alleviating these concerns. 

•    High training costs. 
If your organization uses call centers for traditional patient communication, there are hidden costs beyond staffing. Research shows that the costs of training new medical information call center agents can reach $6,400 or more for each individual. 

•    Increased outsourcing. 
If you think outsourcing these key functions is the answer, think again. Research shows that call center outsourcing in the US can cost $25 to $65 per hour for each representative. With just four staff members operating from 9 am to 5 pm per weekday, your costs can easily top $350,000 per year.

•    Lower patient satisfaction.
Patients expect and demand more digital engagement. In fact, 97% of consumers text, including 92% of seniors. And 37% of consumers are texting more because of the pandemic.

The Advantages of SMS-Based Automated Patient Outreach

One recent example highlights the value of cutting just some of these costs. Howard University achieved a savings of $110,880 annual FTE costs by eliminating manual phone outreach via adoption of an automated, SMS-based patient engagement platform. According to its Patient Outreach Administrator, "Cost-savings were immediate, and the no-show rate was quickly cut in half."   

To learn more about how health systems are “cutting the cord” on traditional engagement and moving toward SMS-based patient engagement powered by EHR-embedded platforms, download the latest eBook today