Are healthcare contact centers ready for a new era of flexible work?

How can healthcare organizations embrace hybrid work models, and improve working conditions and quality of service?

Published ·August 7, 2023

Reading time·4 min

Remote work in healthcare  

Today, the traditional 9-5 workday in the office is no longer the norm. More and more people are opting for flexible work arrangements outside the workplace. And while healthcare has traditionally been hesitant to embrace this change, the shift could potentially solve a number of issues the industry is facing in terms of burnout that leads to staff shortages. 

Still, while this new way of working has many benefits, it also presents some healthcare-specific challenges. It’s well known that healthcare is an industry that’s behind the curve when it comes to remote work, mostly due to finding the right talent, keeping that talent and protecting cybersecurity. 

So how can healthcare organizations embrace flexible options and prevent burnout? Let’s break down the challenges and opportunities presented by the era of remote work in healthcare, and how healthcare organizations can adapt to this new landscape and improve the quality of service for consumers. 

What’s the “new era of remote work”? 

The “new era of remote work” is a term used to describe a shift away from the traditional 9-5 workday, whereby more and more people are opting for flexible work arrangements. This shift has been driven largely by advances in technology, as more healthcare systems are able to make use of cloud-based services, high-speed internet access and software tools to allow their employees to access company networks and collaborate on projects from anywhere.  

Why is this a concern for healthcare organizations?  

In healthcare contact centers, remote work can help healthcare organizations make better use of their limited resources and reduce costs whilst improving the quality of care and CX for patients. Additionally, this shift in how healthcare services are delivered could help reduce burnout and agent attrition.  

However, there are also significant challenges associated with embracing the new era of remote work. 

The healthcare industry is notorious for its slow uptake when it comes to digitalization, leaving it lagging in terms of patient care and service delivery. This has been particularly exacerbated by the pandemic, which has highlighted the need for a digital transformation of the industry.  

What are the benefits of remote work? 

The benefits of remote work for healthcare organizations cannot be understated. It can help optimize resource allocation, reduce costs and allow for better collaboration between teams in different locations. Additionally, it can allow for a more agile approach to dealing with unexpected circumstances, such as an outbreak of a contagious disease.  

Not to mention, by offering employees the chance to work remotely, healthcare organizations can help improve their work-life balance and retain talented employees in a competitive market. When they’re no longer confined to a certain location for their job, employees are able to manage their own schedules better and focus on their mental and physical wellbeing without sacrificing their work commitments. 

Happy employees also mean more positive consumer, member and patient experiences.  

The challenges of remote work in healthcare 

Despite the potential benefits, many challenges are still associated with implementing a remote work model in the healthcare industry. One of the biggest challenges is data security, as personal and sensitive data must be properly encrypted and safeguarded. With the regulations on data privacy getting stricter, healthcare organizations must be sure that all their employees are correctly trained in data security protocols.  

On top of security issues, there’s agent recruiting — finding the right talent for these positions is much more extensive and complex than other industries. There must be a rigorous background check and financial screening, plus, candidates must be empathetic and well-trained in consumer-facing roles.  

4 next steps for healthcare organizations  

To overcome the challenges posed by remote work in the healthcare industry, organizations must focus on developing solutions that can allow existing services to be delivered remotely, while also ensuring that data remains secure and that consumers have positive experiences.  

  1. Move everything to the cloud. Healthcare organizations should collaborate with existing tech companies to develop creative solutions that can deliver healthcare services remotely. This could include taking advantage of existing technologies such as telemedicine and online booking systems. 
  1. Lean on human resource experts to find the right talent for your organization. As healthcare continues to face a growing number of the workforce walking away after burnout, it’s critical for healthcare leaders to allow experts to help fill in those gaps. Leaning on outsourcing companies can reduce costs and improve time management and resources by allowing a third party to take on the complexities of finding the right talent.  
  1. Prioritize training. Support engaged, hands-on training with both interactive learning, micro learnings and one-on-one guidance in data security protocols (90-95% of all breaches are due to human error) and tech in the contact center.  
  1. Find experts to help streamline remote work settings. Automation and AI can help streamline processes throughout the contact center, but healthcare leaders should lean on customer experience experts when doing so to be tactical and efficient.   

Remote work is a major opportunity for healthcare  

The shift towards remote work represents a major opportunity for the healthcare industry. It can help healthcare organizations optimize their resources, reduce costs and add to the goal of shifting to a consumer-centric healthcare landscape. However, it’s important to understand the challenges posed by this shift and take the necessary steps to enable secure, compliant operations. With the right focus and investment, healthcare organizations can take advantage of this shift and deliver the best consumer experiences. 

To learn more about what healthcare organizations can do to attract and retain talent and improve consumer experiences, download our best practice guide “Healthcare reimagined: How to build a CX for the future.”