The November 2023 Issue

LVM Systems

Is Your Call Center Centralized?

A Decentralized Call Center Is an Oxymoron

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In the early days of our industry, the label call center fit perfectly. We handled calls from a central location. This was necessitated by the platform we used, which we installed in our office. It consisted of physical hardware to switch calls and network our computers.

Centralized: The physical limitations of our call center equipment required that all agent stations be on-site. It was impractical, if not impossible, to connect an off-site workstation.

Because of this configuration, both our practices and management styles emerged from the idea of everyone working as a team from a centralized operations room. Though calls could originate from anywhere, they all ended up in one place. Our staff handled them with ease and effectiveness. It was efficient and easy to manage.

Multilocation: With the advent of the internet, it became possible to connect a second location to the centralized telephone platform. Though the off-site agent experience was often not as fast or as reliable as its on-site counterpart, it did, nonetheless, allow for the first wave of decentralization to occur.

This simple change, however, revealed some weaknesses in the way we did business.

First, managing staff in two locations required a different management style. The informal—yet proven—management-by-walking-around approach was great in a centralized environment. Yet, by not being able to be in two places at once, the manager effectively ignored the staff at the other location. Though some employees worked well without direct in-person oversight, others did not. Too often quality suffered, and productivity dropped.

The other issue was out of sight, out of mind. Leaving a box of donuts in the break room in one location as a thank-you to the staff dismissed the employees at the second location. The proven communication technique of posting notices on a physical bulletin board ignored staff at the second site. And holding an office potluck became problematic, resulting in further division as opposed to enhancing comradery. Too often, an us-versus-them mentality emerged between two sparring locations.

Yet over time, wise managers adjusted their management style and operational practices to equally embrace employees at both locations.

Home-Based: As hosted systems, also called SaaS (Software as a Service), became available, the long-standing dream of many a manager at last became a viable reality. What was this grand vision? A truly distributed workforce where every employee could work at a different location, such as their own home. In truth, any location with a stable internet connection could become an effective remote agent station.

Though some resisted this opportunity, citing HIPAA and data security concerns, others already had procedures in place to effectively deal with this. And when the pandemic hit, forcing many call centers to close or pivot, some easily switched to a 100 percent home-based operation.

Hybrid: Though some call centers today continue to operate solely in one of these three operational models, most take a hybrid approach, with some staff working in a central office, other employees operating from a second location, and still others working from their home offices. This allows for the greatest efficiency and flexibility.

In this way, the operation benefits, the organization benefits, and the patients and callers benefit. Having a distributed operation is an ideal situation, even if we still refer to it as a call center.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat. Read more in his latest book, Healthcare Call Center Essentials, as well as Sticky Sales and Marketing.

Navigating the Future: The Winning Formula for Medical Call Centers in 2024

By Genevieve Carrenard

In an era marked by the rapid evolution of healthcare and technology, medical call centers are poised to play a pivotal role in the industry’s continued transformation. As we step into 2024, these centers find themselves at the intersection of opportunity and innovation, with the potential for substantial growth and profitability. But what will it take for them to thrive in this dynamic landscape?

Let’s explore the strategies and trends that can guide medical call centers toward a successful and lucrative future.

The Evolution of Medical Call Centers: Medical call centers have come a long way from their humble beginnings as answering services for healthcare providers. Today, they serve as multifaceted hubs of healthcare communication, connecting patients, physicians, and healthcare facilities in ways that enhance access to care, improve patient outcomes, and streamline operations.

The increased digitization of healthcare services has created a demand for medical call centers that can seamlessly integrate with electronic health records (EHR) systems, telehealth platforms, and mobile health apps. As the industry continues to evolve, here are eight key strategies for medical call centers to remain profitable in 2024:

1. Embrace Telehealth and Virtual Care: The global pandemic catapulted telehealth to the forefront of healthcare delivery. Medical call centers must adapt by offering comprehensive telehealth services, including virtual consultations, remote patient monitoring, and prescription management. By positioning themselves as telehealth leaders, these centers can tap into a growing market and attract healthcare providers seeking to extend their reach.

2. Prioritize Patient Engagement: Successful medical call centers in 2024 will prioritize patient engagement and satisfaction. Personalized interactions, empathetic communication, and proactive outreach will be essential. Call center staff will utilize data analytics and AI-driven tools to understand patient preferences, anticipate needs, and provide tailored recommendations for better health outcomes.

3. Leverage AI, Automation, and Data-Driven Decision Making: Artificial intelligence and automation are not just buzzwords. They are quickly becoming indispensable tools for modern medical call centers. By implementing chatbots and virtual assistants to handle routine inquiries, appointment scheduling, and prescription refills, call centers can reduce costs, freeing up human agents to focus on complex, high-value tasks.

4. Ensure Compliance and Security: In an era of heightened data security concerns, medical call centers must prioritize compliance with healthcare regulations such as HIPAA. They should invest in robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard patient data and build trust with healthcare providers who rely on their services.

5. Offer Multilingual Support: As healthcare becomes increasingly diverse, offering multilingual support is crucial. Call centers should provide services in multiple languages, accommodating a wider patient demographic and expanding the client base.

6. Collaborate with Healthcare Systems: Forming strategic partnerships with healthcare systems and hospitals will allow medical call centers to become an integral part of the care delivery ecosystem. Collaboration can lead to referrals, shared resources, and mutually beneficial relationships.

7. Continuous Training and Development: It’s important for call centers to invest in ongoing training and development for their staff. This insures that they stay up-to-date with the latest medical knowledge, communication techniques, and technology. Well-trained agents are more effective at providing quality care and service.

8. Stay Agile and Adaptive: In an ever-evolving healthcare landscape, adaptability is key to success. Call centers must be prepared to pivot and innovate as new technologies, regulations, and patient expectations emerge.

Conclusion: Medical call centers in 2024 have a unique opportunity to thrive. By following these trends and strategies, medical call centers can navigate the future with confidence, providing essential support to the healthcare industry while achieving profitability and growth.

The future is bright for those who are ready to embrace change and innovation.

Genevieve Carrenard is the business manager at Medical Call Center News. She has a decade of call center experience in the US and Canada. She is committed to helping clients meet their advertising and marketing needs. Contact her at

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Medical Call Center News is pleased to announce the addition of Genevieve Carrenard. She will focus on customer service, content creation, and website optimization.

Genevieve has ten years of call center management and leadership experience at major corporations in both the US and Canada. Starting this month, she will tap into her expertise to write articles in Medical Call Center News.

Welcome, Genevieve!

Send us your healthcare call center articles and news for the next issue of Medical Call Center News.

A Thought for Today

“Don’t be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.” —Mignon McLaughlin