Healthcare Communications Firm Discusses Future Impacts of IVR and Automation in the Industry

1-800 Notify

1-800 Notify CEO Martin Trautschold provides insight into what IVR technology could improve

As companies look for ways to streamline their digital communication and payment systems, the CEO of 1-800 Notify, Martin Trautschold, shared his thoughts on how IVR (Interactive Voice Response) automated payment systems are changing the way healthcare professionals work with patients and process payments.  

IVR automated systems allow for real-time access to information and features that allow patients to hear their outstanding balances and pay healthcare bills over the phone at any time. Healthcare service providers such as 1-800 Notify bring this technology to healthcare organizations around the United States, helping offices operate more efficiently while patients spend less time waiting on hold to speak with someone. 

"Our clients' business challenges led us to develop the Payment IVR service," said Trautschold. "In discussions with our clients, they asked us if we can solve a challenge, and in this case, the challenge was allowing patients or insurance subscribers to pay their bills anytime during the day using a credit card or bank account without needing to wait on hold or talk with a staff member."

IVR has the potential to make professional communications more intuitive and streamlined. By developing the technology further, there will be less stress placed on live agents and office staff, who can only speak to one person at a time.

Using communications automation technologies, such as automated voice and SMS text, have helped healthcare providers improve patient appointment attendance rates, promote consistent wellness appointments, and share important messages with patients. 1-800 Notify has worked with hospitals, healthcare systems, physician groups, and medical billing firms. After designing and implementing dozens of customized Phone Payment IVR systems, Trautschold with the 1-800 Notify team have become experts in IVR technology and practical automation systems in the healthcare industry, which often lag behind other major industries in adopting new technology at scale.

Trautschold states, "It's all about focusing on the caller experience and expectations. Many callers are holding a paper statement in their hands with a statement balance which they are expecting to hear. It just makes sense to start the conversation with that balance. Then, if the balance has changed, explain why. We want to provide a caller experience that is smooth, comfortable and avoids any surprises. A surprise usually means a transfer back to a human representative from the automated system, and no one wants that to happen."

Trautschold believes there are a few key areas in which IVR technology can improve to better serve the healthcare industry. "IVRs should be treated like a valued customer service staff member who is given periodic performance reviews and training." Trautschold continues, "The IVR should never be implemented and forgotten - the IVR is interacting with your patients or subscribers on a daily basis. People change, expectations change, you want to keep exceeding your customer's expectations - the only way to do this is to give your IVR a periodic performance review." Key IVR performance metrics include: 

  • callers who successfully authenticate (for example with an account number and date of birth), 
  • successfully complete payments and 
  • transfer from the IVR back to talk with a representative (which ideally is avoided).  

If any of these key metrics start to move in the wrong direction or are not where they should be compared to industry benchmarks, it's time for some detailed IVR Review, which may well include a review of the overall IVR Call Flow.  

Other technology enhancements that can also be explored for inclusion into the IVR include enhanced voice recognition and secure text chat.  As voice recognition technology continues to improve to better understand a speaker's specific tone, dialect and meaning, it should be added as an interaction method in addition to the "tried and true" fallback - the telephone keypad touch-tones. Furthermore, some phone IVR systems are starting to offer a switch to a secure text chat, which would benefit people who prefer texting to waiting on hold to speak with a representative in a voice conversation.

1-800 Notify has developed an automated system that can securely authenticate a patient's identity, share account balance information, and take payments, all without requiring the caller to speak to a staff member. This technology has made it easier for patients to interact with their healthcare providers and get assistance when it's convenient for them - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ability to integrate more services will lead to faster, real-time payments. Patient records are instantly updated through various software vendors, such as Epic Systems. 

The next five years will be crucial for advancements in IVR technology; Trautschold predicts that IVR systems will need to be further developed to understand what a patient was doing before placing a call. For example, the system could greet the caller with a prompt such as, "I see you were recently on the patient portal exploring your patient balance. Would you like to make a payment today?" 

IVR will need to plan for additional integration to allow more seamless transfers between live agents and IVR systems without requiring callers to re-authenticate their identities by sharing personal information again. 

Recommendations for a successful Payment IVR include: 

  • Continuous review of your existing IVR performance compared to key metrics and working to improve that performance. No IVR should be implemented and forgotten.
  • Customizing your payment IVR to provide a streamlined and intuitive "frictionless" experience that keeps the caller delighted and coming back to use it again and again. Successful Payment IVRs are never a "one-size-fits-all" proposition.
  • Look to enhance integration with other systems that would allow the IVR to "know" what the caller was doing before they picked up the phone (example - if the caller was on the secure patient portal reviewing their account) - the IVR could mention that to the caller.
  • Allowing callers to switch to a secure text chat with a live agent instead of waiting on hold to speak with someone 

Automation will be crucial in the years to come as healthcare organizations find ways to do more with fewer people, or with more people working remotely. Trautschold has already seen that IVR can help offices handle 30% more patient calls, reduce hold times for patients to speak to a live agent, and give staff members more time to provide better customer service. 


About 1-800 Notify

1-800 Notify is a healthcare communications firm that is fully HIPAA and PCI compliant, an Epic App Orchard Partner and integrates with many systems. 1-800 Notify improves patient appointment attendance, wellness and payments while improving efficiency for hospitals, systems, physician groups, and medical billing firms. Founded in 2011, 1-800 Notify has rapidly grown to support millions of inbound IVR autopay by phone calls, two-way appointment reminders, patient wellness and broadcast messages. 1-800 Notify is proud of its 98% client retention rate. We focus on learning each client's unique needs, tailoring solutions to those needs and providing a highly reliable and scalable service -- all at a price that is difficult for our competition to match. For more information, visit

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Source: 1-800 Notify