By Kevin Ruthen, chief technology officer, Support.com.
Customer support plays a critical role in healthcare. In fact, a report from McKinsey and Company on healthcare consumerism found that “customer service ranked second behind only coverage — and ahead of cost and access — when survey participants were asked what features would make a healthcare company most appealing.”
Historically, customer care for the healthcare industry has been delivered by agents housed in brick-and-mortar call center facilities due to the complex security and compliance requirements. As a result, when the pandemic first struck, many call centers were forced to shut down, ultimately to re-open with physical distancing measures that reduced overall capacity. Others sent agents to work remotely, although they were quickly met with a myriad of challenges associated with managing and securing a remote workforce.
Brick-and-mortar centers traditionally use physical controls and in-person monitoring protocols to ensure security, and many were not prepared to adapt these security measures to a virtual environment. Traditional providers ran into issues verifying an agent’s true identity and confirming whether the agent was operating in a secure and private work environment.
Additionally, providers faced challenges securing an agent’s network and hardware from malicious software (i.e. viruses, malware), that could then spread to the rest of the contact center. Without these security measures and verifications in place, these work-from-home agents were at risk of violating HIPAA security and compliance requirements.
Can customer support for healthcare be provided outside the four walls of a call center? Can secure, HIPAA-compliant customer support be delivered by a remote workforce at scale?
Success with WFH support agents – what does this look like?
Homesourcing is a model that enables outsourced work to be delivered by employees working from home, while maintaining or even improving productivity. Homesourcing requires that all of a company’s processes, platforms, tools, security protocols, and culture are redesigned to support home-based employees. The model requires recruiting full-time (W2) employees who have the traits, work ethic, and time management skills to be successful in a remote environment and enables providers to screen for specific skills or industry experience.
For homesourcing to be a viable model for the healthcare industry, it must address three core areas related to customer data – privacy, control, and access.