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Interactive Voice Response in healthcare

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Kathleen Gaffney| Healthcare Strategist| Dimension Data Healthcare

Kathleen Gaffney| Healthcare Strategist| Dimension Data Healthcare

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) usage for self-service in hospitals has increased over the past few years. IVR is a telephone system that allows data to be provided or collected over the phone via voice recognition or keypad response. IVR relieves administrative staff of routine customer interactions and helps healthcare organizations increase their efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Additionally, many customers like being able to find answers to their questions or to retrieve sensitive information without the need to speak with a person.

Self-serve voice portals can be of two types – knowledge-based and transaction-based. Knowledge-based systems use a structured database to provide the customer with answers to most frequently asked questions, such as hours of operation. Transaction-based systems are personalized to the customer and allow a customer to access personal details and services such as account balance, lab results, appointment times as well as request a prescription re-order, pay a bill, or other similar activities. Transaction-based systems require systems integration to ensure that customer data is available in a usable and integrated manner. In the healthcare environment systems such as the EMR, laboratory, and accounts payable are typically integrated into the IVR.

Typical Self-Serve Applications include:

  • Account Balance and Payment– Organizations can provide 24/7 self-service account information with an automated agent-less solution. The IVR system allows for payments via ACH, Credit Card or Debit Card without the need for call centers or agents.
  • Automated Test Results– Patient records can be accessed through IVR Software allowing callers to obtain data confidentially and easily 24/7. Healthcare providers can allow their callers to access their test results while preserving the privacy of the caller and avoiding any potential leakage of sensitive information.
  • Auto-Attendant and Info Hotlines– Auto-attendants provide patients with access to commonly requested information (such as hours of operation, address, directions and improve call routing when human assistance is needed.
  • Clinical Relevance– Allows patients to obtain data from clinical systems – request prescription refill, access immunization records, and schedule appointments.

IVRs provide customers with a choice in communication channels. Information can be delivered over the phone, via a mobile web app, and using interactive text messaging. They are not intended to replace agents, but as an overall strategy can maximize the customer experience while lowering overall customer communications costs.