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The patient journey is a crucial aspect of our healthcare system — and one that’s been overlooked for too long. With more and more of our healthcare interactions occurring digitally, healthcare providers are being asked to make services available on more channels — and offer a better experience overall.

“Healthcare is extremely personal,” says Patty Hayward, director of healthcare strategy at Talkdesk, a leading cloud-based contact center provider. “But when you think about a typical patient experience today, it’s not very personal at all.”

The patient experience

As healthcare services have moved into the online and digital space, patients have begun to demand the sort of seamless, convenient experience they’re accustomed to in other industries, like retail.

Talkdesk is committed to meeting that challenge. “We’re consumers always, but patients sometimes,” Hayward notes. “We’re used to that Amazon experience. Finding a way to bring that same ease into healthcare is very important. Expectations are high — Talkdesk Research™ found that 67 percent of patients are willing to switch providers after just a single bad experience.

Improving the patient journey in healthcare starts with a focus on the patient experience. “In the healthcare industry, there’s a tendency to look at things from the physician experience — providers haven’t really done a great job of putting the patient at the center of healthcare,” says Hayward. “For example, most telehealth systems are designed to maximize each doctor’s efficiency, and the resulting patient experience ends up resembling the in-person one. People will tolerate a typical waiting room when visiting their doctors, but they’re much less tolerant of wait times for telehealth.”

The digital experience patients increasingly expect is frictionless. And it’s crucial that the conversation be personalized — however the patient chooses to interact, whether digital, by phone, or in person, their history should follow them. Finally, today’s patients demand convenience, which means contact should be possible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a self-service option as a minimum.

Contact centers play a key role

A robust contact center is essential to providing patients the experience they want. “A contact center needs to be thought of as a strategic asset and not a cost center,” Hayward says. “In the past, each department had their own contact center setup. That’s a very fractured experience; patients have to repeat themselves because the context is missing from previous conversations. It needs to be connected.”

A major mistake some healthcare organizations make is cobbling together several digital platforms in an effort to provide patients the experience they want. This can result in a disjointed patient experience, with interactions on one channel failing to follow the patient as they engage on others. An end-to-end, cloud-based Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution, like the Talkdesk Healthcare Experience Cloud™, can give providers a unified view of each patient across touchpoints. This enables a more personalized experience where patients feel understood as they engage across departments and channels.

Transforming patient experience requires a contact center solution that is purpose-built for healthcare with pre-trained artificial intelligence (AI) and robust integrations with core systems. “I always tell providers that the solution isn’t simply adding a chat feature to your website,” Hayward says. “You’ve got to have great AI behind it. If you don’t, it’s going to cause more confusion and frustration. You need medical-grade speech-to-text. You need to be able to teach it what things mean without code. You need to be able to provide smart routing and be able to recommend the next best action. And you need to have deep integrations into the electronic health record, not just a ‘screen pop.’”

Understanding each patient in a connected and convenient journey builds the relationship between people and their care. “When a person needs healthcare, they want empathy — they don’t want to be treated like a medical record number,” notes Hayward. “The patient experience is probably one of the most important things we can be talking about right now.”

To learn more about the Talkdesk solutions improving the patient experience, visit

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