How to combat burnout among contact center agents in the health sector

By: Paulo Manzato is Regional Vice President of Sales for Latin America at Talkdesk

Healthcare has been hit by an epidemic of employee burnout in the healthcare industry. In an AMA survey, more than half of physicians surveyed reported high levels of stress from being overworked, understaffed, poorly designed technologies, and inefficient workflows — in addition to the emotional burden of dealing with stressed, confused, or worried patients. their families. While clinical staff is generally the focus of most healthcare burnout research, studies show that employees who deal directly with patients also experience similar stress. This includes health center support agents.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a heart surgeon or a contact center agent, your job is to help patients and plan members with potentially serious physical and mental well-being concerns. No wonder they are so excited! For contact center workers, being able to help these people efficiently and empathetically is essential to providing exceptional service and feeling valued at work.

A McKinsey survey showed that “contact center employees who are satisfied with their work are generally four times more likely to stay with their company for at least a year.”

The evidence is clear that contact center agent turnover and burnout are sources of huge costs for healthcare organizations. But what can service providers and insurers do to reduce attrition and churn so they can help patients and plan members? There are several strategies they can implement:

Help agents in real time using AI

Health contact center agents are under intense pressure to help people who have questions or concerns about lab test results, specialist referrals, prescriptions, deductibles, billing and other important medical and insurance issues. These patients and plan members may be agitated or even irritated, which can intimidate less experienced support agents and diminish their effectiveness and ability to respond appropriately.

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing, and other intelligent technologies are available to enable agents to quickly resolve patient and plan member issues, proactively providing them with next best action recommendations for every step of a live call or digital chat. Additionally, these tools can perform sentiment analysis and provide cues for agents to respond in the most empathic way. This is much more effective than the traditional “roadmap” approach used by some support centers because it facilitates genuine human interaction, increasing job satisfaction for health workers.

Provide agents with an integrated and user-friendly interface

When agents are trying to find critical information for a disturbed patient or plan member, the last thing they need to deal with is a poorly designed interface that slows them down. Agents don’t have time to navigate through multiple screens and apps during a call or live chat. Healthcare organizations must equip agents with easily navigable interfaces that integrate multichannel data.

See more: Meet the Talkdesk Retail Experience Cloud, a platform for the retail sector that aims to unify the customer journey

Automate repetitive tasks

Simple but necessary tasks, such as opening a new case or accessing an existing account, can overwhelm contact center agents when handling patient/member inquiries. Integrating automated functionality into the contact center platform streamlines agent workflows, freeing them up to focus on more complex tasks and the person they are trying to help.

Self-help for patients and members

Automation can also be used by healthcare organizations to provide self-help options to patients and plan members at ease to make their own appointments, request prescription refills, or other routine activities. Automated self-help functionality simplifies the support process for agents, while giving patients and members the opportunity to be self-reliant.

Use AI/ML to “train” agents

Smart technologies can be used to increase the quality of support provided by all contact center agents, learning the techniques of the best professionals. These techniques can be standardized for training and during agent interactions with patients and members.


Health care effectiveness must be measured across the patient’s journey. Contact center support agents are a critical link in this service chain. So when that bond is broken, the patient’s experience suffers. A modern, intelligent cloud-based contact center provides healthcare organizations with a robust technology platform that can reduce attrition and friction, empowering agents to focus on patient and member care.