3 Reasons why healthcare firms need a multilingual call center

Faith Ocampo Published on September 5, 2016 Last updated on September 20, 2023

The best healthcare firms take care of their patients even outside the clinic or hospital. This is where multilingual call centers come in.

Effective communication plays a vital role in the healthcare industry, where clear and accurate information exchange is crucial for providing quality care and ensuring patient safety. Language barriers can impede effective communication and create challenges for both healthcare providers and patients.

In this digital age of globalization and multicultural societies, healthcare firms need to adapt to the diverse needs of their patient populations. This is where a multilingual call center can make a significant difference.

In this blog, we will explore three key reasons why healthcare firms should consider implementing a multilingual call center to enhance the patient experience, expand access to healthcare services, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Reason 1: Enhanced Patient Experience

Language barriers in healthcare settings can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and compromised patient care. By having a multilingual call center, healthcare firms can bridge this gap and provide effective communication solutions.

Patients who can communicate comfortably and fluently in their native language are more likely to express their concerns, share critical health information, and actively participate in their healthcare journey. This enhanced patient experience can lead to higher levels of satisfaction and improved health outcomes.

Furthermore, effective communication in a patient’s preferred language builds trust and confidence. Patients feel heard and understood when they can communicate with healthcare providers in a language they are most comfortable with. This fosters a sense of connection and empathy, strengthening the patient-provider relationship.

In addition, multilingual call centers enable healthcare firms to provide personalized and culturally sensitive care. Understanding the cultural nuances, beliefs, and practices of diverse patient populations is crucial for delivering care that respects and aligns with patients’ values.

A multilingual call center can facilitate this understanding and contribute to a patient-centered approach.

Reason 2: Expanding Access to Healthcare Services

Diverse patient populations may face significant barriers when seeking healthcare services due to language limitations. By implementing a multilingual call center, healthcare firms can overcome these barriers and expand access to healthcare services for non-native speakers.

Patients who speak different languages can easily communicate their needs, make appointments, and access necessary healthcare information. This inclusive approach ensures that language is not a barrier to receiving timely and appropriate healthcare.

Multilingual call centers also play a vital role in providing healthcare information and education in multiple languages. Patients need access to reliable information about medical conditions, treatment options, preventive measures, and post-care instructions.

By offering healthcare information in various languages, healthcare firms empower patients to make informed decisions about their health. This not only improves patient outcomes but also encourages proactive engagement and preventive care practices among diverse patient populations.

Reason 3: Compliance with Regulatory Requirements

Healthcare firms have legal obligations to provide language access to patients who are limited English proficient (LEP) or have communication barriers. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in legal risks, penalties, and damage to the organization’s reputation.

Implementing a multilingual call center is an effective strategy for meeting language access requirements and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

Language access requirements in healthcare settings are designed to protect the rights of patients and promote equitable access to care. Federal laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Affordable Care Act, mandate language assistance services for LEP individuals.

By having a multilingual call center, healthcare firms can offer interpretation services, translation of vital documents, and support for effective communication with LEP patients. Compliance with these regulations not only ensures legal adherence but also demonstrates a commitment to providing equitable healthcare services to all individuals, regardless of language proficiency.

Implementing a Multilingual Call Center

To effectively implement a multilingual call center, healthcare firms need to assess their language needs and patient demographics.

Understanding the languages spoken by the patient population is crucial for determining the necessary language support. Recruiting and training multilingual agents is another essential step in building a competent team that can effectively communicate with patients in their native languages.

Leveraging technology is also key in providing language support. Call center software with built-in language interpretation features or video interpretation services can facilitate real-time communication between patients and healthcare providers.

Quality assurance measures should be put in place to ensure accurate and reliable interpretation services. Continuous improvement strategies, such as gathering patient feedback and monitoring language access metrics, help healthcare firms refine their multilingual call center operations and enhance patient satisfaction.

The Challenges Faced by Healthcare Firms during Multilingual Outsourcing

Outsourcing to a multilingual call center can bring numerous benefits to healthcare firms, including enhanced patient communication and improved access to healthcare services. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are also challenges associated with outsourcing that need to be carefully addressed.

In this section, we will explore some of the common concerns faced by healthcare firms while outsourcing to a multilingual call center and discuss the measures taken to mitigate these challenges.

  • Language Proficiency and Cultural Competence: One of the primary concerns when outsourcing to a multilingual call center is ensuring that the agents possess the necessary language proficiency and cultural competence to effectively communicate with patients. Healthcare firms need to be confident that the agents can accurately interpret medical terminology, understand patients’ needs, and provide appropriate responses. Cultural sensitivity is also crucial to ensure that patients’ cultural beliefs, practices, and preferences are respected.

    To address this concern, healthcare firms can establish stringent recruitment and training processes. They can partner with call center providers that have a proven track record in recruiting and training multilingual agents with healthcare expertise. Assessments, interviews, and language proficiency tests can be conducted to evaluate the candidates’ language skills. Ongoing training programs on medical terminology, cultural competency, and customer service can further enhance the agents’ skills and ensure they are well-prepared to handle patient interactions.

  • Data Security and Compliance: Healthcare firms deal with sensitive patient information, and ensuring data security and compliance is paramount. Outsourcing to a multilingual call center raises concerns about the protection of patient data and compliance with privacy regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

    To address these concerns, healthcare firms should select call center providers that have robust data security measures in place. This includes secure data transmission protocols, encrypted databases, access controls, and regular security audits. In addition, comprehensive data protection agreements should be established between the healthcare firm and the call center provider, outlining the responsibilities and obligations regarding data privacy and security. Regular monitoring and auditing of the call center’s compliance with HIPAA and other applicable regulations are also essential to ensure ongoing adherence to data protection standards.

  • Continuity of Care and Service: Maintaining continuity of care and service is crucial when outsourcing to a multilingual call center. Healthcare firms need to ensure that patients receive consistent and high-quality care regardless of whether they interact with in-house staff or call center agents. Seamless coordination between the call center and the healthcare firm is essential to prevent any gaps or miscommunication that may compromise patient care.

    To address this concern, healthcare firms should establish clear communication channels and protocols with the call center provider. Regular meetings, performance reviews, and feedback sessions can help foster collaboration and ensure alignment between the call center and the healthcare firm’s objectives. Standard operating procedures and training materials can be shared to ensure that call center agents have accurate and up-to-date information about the healthcare firm’s services, processes, and policies. Implementing a robust ticketing or case management system can also aid in tracking patient interactions, follow-ups, and any ongoing care requirements.

  • Patient Privacy and Confidentiality: Protecting patient privacy and maintaining confidentiality is a critical concern in the healthcare industry. Healthcare firms need to ensure that patient information shared during interactions with call center agents remains secure and confidential.

    To address this concern, healthcare firms should work closely with call center providers to establish strict confidentiality protocols. Confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure agreements should be in place to legally bind call center agents to maintain patient privacy. Training programs should emphasize the importance of patient confidentiality and the consequences of any breaches. Call center facilities should also have physical security measures in place to prevent unauthorized access to patient information.

  • Language and Cultural Nuances: Healthcare communication involves more than just language proficiency. It also requires an understanding of cultural nuances, beliefs, and practices that may impact patient interactions. Ensuring that call center agents can effectively navigate these nuances can be a challenge.

    To address this concern, healthcare firms can provide cultural sensitivity training to call center agents. This training should focus on the cultural diversity of the patient population served by the healthcare firm and educate agents on how to approach and address patients’ cultural needs respectfully. Regular feedback and communication between the healthcare firm and the call center can also help identify any specific challenges related to language or cultural nuances and provide necessary guidance for improvement.

Real-World Examples of Healthcare Firms that Took Advantage of Multilingual Outsourcing

Here are a few examples of healthcare firms that have successfully leveraged multilingual outsourcing to enhance their services:

  • Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic, a renowned healthcare organization in the United States, has implemented multilingual call center services to cater to their diverse patient population. With patients coming from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, Mayo Clinic recognized the importance of effective communication. By outsourcing to a multilingual call center, they were able to provide language support in multiple languages, ensuring that patients receive personalized care and understand medical information accurately.
  • Bumrungrad International Hospital: Bumrungrad International Hospital, located in Thailand, is a leading medical facility that attracts patients from around the world. Recognizing the need to provide language support, they partnered with a multilingual call center to assist their international patients. The call center provides language interpretation services and assistance in various languages, facilitating smooth communication and ensuring a positive patient experience.
  • Apollo Hospitals: Apollo Hospitals, a prominent healthcare provider in India, serves a diverse patient base, including patients from different states within the country and international patients. To address language barriers and improve patient satisfaction, Apollo Hospitals established a multilingual call center. This call center enables patients to communicate in their preferred language, allowing for clear and effective communication between patients and healthcare professionals.
  • NHS England: The National Health Service (NHS) in England, one of the largest healthcare systems globally, has implemented multilingual call center services to support their diverse patient population. Recognizing the linguistic diversity within the country, the NHS offers language interpretation services through their call center. This ensures that patients who do not speak English as their first language can access healthcare services and receive the necessary information in a language they understand.

These examples highlight how healthcare firms across different regions have recognized the value of multilingual outsourcing to cater to the diverse needs of their patients. By embracing multilingual call center services, these organizations have been able to improve communication, enhance patient satisfaction, and deliver patient-centered care.

In a diverse and globalized world, healthcare firms need to recognize the value of a multilingual call center in addressing language barriers, enhancing the patient experience, expanding access to healthcare services, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Effective communication in the patient’s preferred language is essential for building trust, providing personalized care, and improving health outcomes. By embracing a multilingual approach, healthcare firms can create an inclusive healthcare environment that respects cultural diversity and delivers patient-centered care.

Investing in a multilingual call center is not only a strategic decision but also a commitment to equitable and quality healthcare for all.

Open Access BPO is an outsourcing firm that keeps up with healthcare firms in caring for their patients through our multilingual and multichannel customer support as well as our back office solutions. Our services are powered by a diverse pool of well-trained agents, and our company has always been HIPAA-compliant, boosting our reliability in serving healthcare firms.

Visit Open Access BPO’s website to learn more about our services.

healthcare provider in customer service call center

In a multicultural environment, how can healthcare organizations enhance the patient experience?

In its early days, the healthcare outsourcing industry focused on processes such as data entry and transcription. However, now that outsourcing companies are becoming knowledge-based and tech-driven, the services that the industry offers are also evolving. They’ve included healthcare information management, clinical research, big data and analytics, medical billing, and others. However, these changes aren’t enough to allow healthcare companies to embrace diverse consumer sectors.

The ability to cater to patients coming from differing backgrounds is a must for healthcare providers located in multicultural areas. Often, these are well-developed cities with plenty of emigrants or tourist spots that attract visitors from foreign regions. In such cases, partnering with a multilingual call center is a must in order to improve the patient experience while reducing the organization’s expenses.

Compared with outsourcing to a monolingual provider, multilingual outsourcing companies deliver added advantages. Here are some of them.

1. Eliminate language-related mistakes.

employee working on laptop with printed document

In the healthcare segment, a single mistake can be extremely costly and dangerous. The organization’s reputation is not the only thing on the line, people’s well-being is also at stake.

That’s why it’s important for healthcare firms to have qualified professionals as part of their workforce. Aside from having a working knowledge in the field of medicine, they must also be able to write and speak different languages, so they can cater to patients who speak a foreign tongue.

In these cases, multilingualism comes in useful. Some outsourcing firms provide live translation services during doctor-patient consultations via video conferencing and other forms of online calls. Some also carry out medical transcription and document translation. This would ensure that medical files are correctly encoded.

2. Provide quality patient care

doctor using virtual user interface human heart

For many healthcare organizations, the patient experience is top priority. It’s crucial that they establish trust and credibility, and the key is to form a good relationship with patients.

A multilingual call center can help healthcare companies and service providers respond to queries promptly, including those made by non-English-speaking patients. Setting up a department that delivers customer service ensures there are people who can give patients the information they need regardless of the language they speak. They may ask about the organization’s services, doctors’ schedules, updates on their previous visit, medical insurance policies, and other matters.

It’s even more important for hospitals and clinics to respond immediately during emergency situations. In these cases, being unable to speak the language of their patients can slow them down.

3. Speed up processes while cutting costs.

smiling call center representative carrying pink piggybank

Building an in-house customer service team can be quite expensive. Employees’ training and salary as well as the necessary technologies and resources must be considered.

A multilingual call center would let healthcare organizations reduce spending. These outsourcing providers already have the necessary setup, encompassing human resource, skill development, and technology infrastructure. Thus, they eliminate the need for healthcare firms to build a customer support team from scratch.

Plus, these outsourcing companies are already specialists in administrative processes like medical billing, medical transcription, and customer support. Their expertise would thus let health care companies deliver fast services.

 

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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