Multichannel versus Omnichannel for Healthcare Providers

A clear path to superior patient experience

Multichannel versus Omnichannel for Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers know all too well about the changes that have taken place in the way patients are engaged today. Like many industries, patient engagement is no longer restricted to mail, fax and phone calls. Providers have also expanded the service hours available for patient communications. 

Perhaps the biggest change has been in the number of channels that are used to communicate with patients. Traditional channels have evolved today to include voice, email, chat, SMS text, mobile apps, social media, self-service and more.

With so many different channels, it’s now a question of how we manage these effectively for the patient, the customer service representatives and the practice. While many people think multichannel and omnichannel approaches are similar, there’s an evolutionary difference between the two

An Omnichannel approach provides a clear path to a superior patient experience for healthcare providers. Here’s why. 

The shortcomings of a Multichannel approach

A Multichannel contact center can offer the same channels as one that uses an Omnichannel approach. And in most cases, the customer’s preferred channel or channels will always be available. For example, if a patient needs post-procedure follow-up via phone, that option will exist. 

However, the Multichannel approach has its shortcomings. Even though so many channels are available, there’s usually nothing connecting the data and putting each patient’s engagement history into context. Data from each channel is siloed. 

In a Multichannel contact center, a customer service representative on a phone call may have no idea of the context of a patient’s history on other channels like SMS, chat, email. Without proper context, you could have a situation where the customer experience is negatively affected. Have you ever had to repeat yourself when calling a provider’s office, even though you may have submitted that same information via email, a prior call or their online portal? Such frustrating experiences highlight the limitations of a Multichannel strategy.

A seamless experience with Omnichannel

For healthcare organizations wishing to implement a seamless patient experience, an Omnichannel contact center is a far better choice to connect channels, customer preferences and history at each point of engagement, enabling representatives to deliver superior customer experience.

Individual channels can create costly, additional and disparate levels of effort to engage patients. Further, many healthcare groups and practices have often been left behind as they do not have the resources and expertise to make the best decisions around patient experience strategies.

A simple rule of thumb for Omnichannel is the “3 Cs”:

  • Customer – Omnichannel is designed to allow the customer to engage when, where and how it is most convenient to him/her. Right combinations of voice, email, chat, text, IVR, social and web portal can each be integrated for preferred and seamless customer experiences (CX).
  • CSR –Customer Service Representatives supporting customer engagement can better serve each touchpoint because they have a universal view of past customer engagements, historically and by channel. This typically enables better first contact resolution (FCR), reduced need for callbacks, reduced costs and improved CX.
  • Company – The omnichannel integration of data across all customer engagement points provides superior analytics and business intelligence for continuous process improvement, better allocations of resources and greater efficiencies across the business. 

Applied to the Healthcare Provider environment, the “3 Cs” improve patient satisfaction and experiences, enable CSRs (clinical or non-clinical) to serve more effectively and offer provider groups and practice actionable data to improve operations. 

Leveraging Omnichannel for better patient engagement

As an industry, Healthcare has been slow to adopt innovations focused on patient engagement.  Yet, there is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and victories of other business sectors and “leapfrog” ahead. Technology and superior business practices are now readily being adapted to healthcare operations at a time when the Healthcare market demands change.

Many healthcare groups and practices do not have the time or experienced resources to make these changes; there are great consultative and healthcare-specialized BPO partners that can come alongside these providers to get there faster, better and cheaper than they would on their own. 

The evolution of patient engagement continues, and the opportunities to deploy best practices leveraging experienced partners can be quickly adopted. The old issues of missed schedules, lost revenues, poor patient experiences and ratings, and uncontrolled costs to serve can be addressed through a well-implemented omnichannel strategy.