Many healthcare companies won’t consider work-at-home solutions because of perceived concerns around security, HIPAA compliance, and the ability to source qualified talent. While these are all important issues, it’s time to set the record straight, as misconceptions can keep healthcare companies from taking advantage of all viable options for solving difficult skills, staffing, cost, and service challenges.
Considering the complex regulations and compliance requirements the healthcare industry must navigate, it’s not surprising that many executives have preferred to stick with staffing models they know. However, because of how the work-at-home model has matured, there are now more flexible, proven, and regulation-compliant options available to help ease staffing and service challenges.
Here’s the truth behind three common myths regarding work-at-home services in the healthcare industry:
Myth #1: A work-at-home model isn’t HIPAA-compliant or secure enough for handling sensitive healthcare information.
There are work-at-home outsourcing service providers that use advanced security and privacy measures that are fully HIPAA-compliant, which can and should be verified through third-party auditors. For example, SYKESHome is audited annually to certify compliance with both HIPAA and PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requirements.
Moreover, the work-at-home model is a tested and proven solution — you don’t have to worry about being the first to adopt it. Leaders such as Aetna, Cigna, United Health, and Humana are already deploying home-based staff, according to FlexJobs, a leading job search site specializing in professional telecommuting.
Myth #2: A virtual workforce doesn’t offer the right qualifications to meet specific needs in the healthcare industry.
In reality, opening up talent sourcing beyond geographic boundaries with a work-at-home option actually increases access to the best candidates with specific qualifications and can potentially decrease labor costs. By working with a customer-service provider with proven experience in both the healthcare industry and virtual workforce management, companies can target talent for specific skills and certifications.
With geography working as a talent-sourcing ally instead of a constraint, you can even source talent in specific states to meet requirements of government-sponsored healthcare plans. In addition, because today’s complex healthcare environment is more consumer driven than ever, consumers want to speak with educated agents who understand the myriad plan options and changes in benefits. In this case, it’s beneficial to have work-at-home agents who live in the same market as your target customers, because they are navigating the same choices themselves. FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics also state that the average telecommuter tends to be older and more educated than in-office workers — a demographic more experienced in buying products themselves.
Myth #3: Healthcare consumers don’t want to access services virtually.
As telehealth services rapidly expand, research shows that healthcare consumers are overwhelmingly embracing the concept. In fact, SYKES found in our 2020 telehealth survey that while 20% of respondents reported using telehealth already, and 40% were considering it, combined, 97% indicated interest in scheduling a telehealth appointment — stating that they are open to considering a telehealth appointment, but simply hadn’t scheduled one yet. Overall, only 3% of respondents expressed a disinterest in telehealth appointments. As the healthcare industry begins to make telehealth more available, the evidence above suggests it will likely be a widely chosen option when and where possible.
While safe and convenient telehealth services are a hit with many consumers, a final roadblock to widespread adoption continues to be awareness. From the 2020 survey, when asked if their providers offered telehealth services, more than one in three respondents (34.55%) said they weren’t aware they had access — implying that providers haven’t done a great job communicating the availability of telehealth services with patients. And given that a combined 96.41% of respondents indicated their willingness to schedule and attend future telehealth appointments after their first, there’s clear evidence that consumers overwhelmingly appreciate telehealth services and will take advantage of it when given the opportunity.
Advantages of a Healthcare System Without Walls
As healthcare continues to become a more consumer-driven industry, the work-at-home model will play an important role in helping healthcare companies adapt to the changing dynamics. Working with a trusted customer-care partner with longtime experience in deploying the work-at-home model will allow companies to leapfrog past technology and security challenges without taking on huge risks and upfront investments. For example, SYKESHome has been providing work-at-home outsourcing services since 1997.
The dual challenges of holding down costs while maintaining — or even improving — effective delivery of healthcare requires the industry to adopt a transformational model that integrates the multichannel technology and service solutions available in our digital age. Deploying the work-at-home business model for services and care in the right areas will help companies meet difficult compliance requirements and improve patient care and service.