Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

5 Healthcare IVR Best Practices

In HealthcareIVR Systems are used to automate a wide variety of tasks: route calls to different departments, announce office or facility hours, allow patients to confirm appointments, and more. In many cases, the functionality of a system is limited by the way the prompts and announcements are written, read, and structured. How do you ensure your IVR System sounds as good as it promises to work?

Best Practices for Writing Healthcare IVR Announcements

1. Provide an "Escape" Option for Callers

Some callers will try to "zero out" immediately when they hear an automated system of any kind. In the Healthcare Industry, callers are looking for a knowledgeable, compassionate individual. To combat this, try telling callers, "To speak with a live representative, press 0 at any time." Not only does this assuage callers who just want to talk to someone live, it's been shown to increase the amount of time callers spend using the automated system. It seems counterintuitive, but just knowing there is a way out encourages callers to use the system.

2. Choose a Calming Voice

When choosing the right voice for your phone system, it's important to consider your callers' point of view. Think about a worried mother calling a pediatrician's office, or a confused patient trying to reach a doctor at a hospital. Since they both have immediate needs, they'd probably respond better to a system with a soft, compassionate, and calm voice as opposed to a recording with a "radio announcer" voice. Every voice over talent has a different recording style and it's best to choose the talent that meets your needs and patients' preferences.

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3. Limit Menu Options

In both large facilities and smaller offices, patients call for many reasons. Overloading your menu with every option under the sun is easy, but it's important to limit the number of options presented. Three is the golden number! Try to avoid having more than 3 choices per menu level, and no more than 3 menu levels. It's better to have 3 menu levels with 3 prompts each, than 1 level with nine prompts. Remember when giving your menu options, put the extension or number at the end of the prompt. For example, your prompt should read as "For patient services, press 3", not like "Press 3 for patient service". 

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4. Prioritize Order of Options

As you recreate your IVR system, pay attention to what options are chosen the most. The popular options should be at the beginning of your menu. Less popular options, and those that are less important, should go toward the end of the menu. By setting up your menus with popular selections first it helps callers avoid frustration, and reach their intended destination as quickly as possible.

5. Multilingual Recordings

If you're a specialty practice working with a wide range of patients, you may want to consider including a variety of languages. The first menu would say something like "Hello, you've reached ABC Practice. For English, press one. Para el español, presione dos. Para la prensa, francesa tres."  The recording tells callers what number to press to hear the IVR in their preferred language. This sets your patients at ease, so they can be confident in the selections they are choosing. 

Bonus: Get Feedback

To ensure patient satisfaction, ask for feedback about the caller's experience. A survey is usually the best way to get feedback! Find out how happy callers were with their experience, how they think it could be improved, and what was easy or difficult for them, and adjust your phone system from there.

IVR is a powerful tool that has near-endless applications in healthcare. When your scripts are written following best practices, and your recordings are read clearly by a professional voice over talent, it helps both your patients and staff. A professional recording will allow callers to feel more confident, and at ease with their selections. Ultimately, changing one small part of the patient experience can contribute positively to a patients overall view of your practice.

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This Content Has Been Updated on 9/2017

Tags: healthcare, IVR, IVR Script Examples, IVR Scripts