Informations for 400,000 patients
Main purpose of the implemented Contact Center is to make appointments scheduling easier, and to reduce patients' waiting time. Because of great demand, appointments for ultra-sound and x-ray exams are given special care. Using the priority system, patients that have higher priority are called-in before those that have lower priority, and can wait a bit longer. The other function of the system is to give general information. The operators can give initial triage (direct patients to adequate departments) and give information on doctors' work schedule. Before the appointment, operators explain to the patients how to prepare for the exam. A control system was also implemented: it is known how long an average appointment lasts, and that information is used for scheduling purposes.
Contact center is also used as a giant “switchboard” for the rest of the Health Center. In case a patient, besides appointment scheduling, needs additional medical consultation the operator can redirect the call to the requested physician, or medical technician. Contact center can be a great place to get patients' opinions and suggestions for improving the services and healthcare quality, and consequently raise citizens' satisfaction.
So called “outgoing campaigns” are used for prevention purposes. Contact center operators call patients and schedule appointments according to their gender and age – preventive gynecological exams for early breast and cervical cancer detection, as well as exams for early detection of colon cancer.
Health Center is a primary healthcare provider for all citizens in Novi Sad metropolitan area and Sremski Karlovci municipality. Its objectives are health protection and improvement, prevention and early disease detection, and treatments and rehabilitation of sick and injured patients. Health Center is a unique entity comprised of several departments and smaller organizational units such as healthcare stations and infirmaries with their own departments and sections.
Older generations of contact centers have their flaws. For instance, if there are three telephone lines and one of them is busy, callers will hear busy signal if they call the line that is busy, while two operators wait for calls. That is why it is much more eﬃcient to have only one public number and several lines. This way, patients always call the same number, and it is transferred to the first available operator. And if all operators are busy, the patient gets the information that he is on the waiting list and that the operator will answer soon. When this situation arises, selected operator is informed that there is a call waiting, and asked to finish the current call as soon as possible.
Bad communication between patients and doctors, as well as ineﬃcient scheduling system lead to long waiting queues and created the need for modern communication standards to be implemented.
The city of Novi Sad and “Novi Sad” Health Center are the best example of how an all-in-one approach can be utilized. The city of Novi Sad uses a contact center that can accept much more calls than it is currently needed, and primary healthcare is managed by the Novi Sad City Council. That is why Health Center contact center is connected to the existing infrastructure of city's contact center.
Saga installed all elements of the computer network that connects all facilities and infirmaries. IP telephony was also installed, as well as Interactive Intelligence software for its management. This way, all Health Center facilities use the same system.
Complete structural cabling was implemented, passive and active network and telecommunication equipment was installed, and all Heath Center facilities were connected. From the design phase in March 2009, until the contact center deployment (in September 2009), less than six months have passed.
Contact center implementation reduced waiting for exams, and lead to 25% increase in number of appointments. The new system enables patients to come when scheduled, and to finish the exam in the least possible time.
Switchboard busy hours are reduced to a minimum level. And if average call time for an operator is above 2 minutes, he receives a message to end the call as soon as possible. Since agents answer diﬀerent num-ber of calls during the day, additional training, done by Saga, enables their improvement. There is also possibility to create complete statistical analysis to find out in what way and how long are operators working, how many appointments are scheduled for each doctor and for the entire organization (per day, week, month and year), etc.
All calls to contact center are eﬃciently distributed, recorded, and all parameters are tracked in real time. Health Center can reassign surplus employees or people that can’t work as medical technicians (if they had jaundice, or became allergic to penicillin or other medicine) to jobs in contact center.
Since the contact center is mostly busy during the morning hours, the operators that work during the afternoon call the people scheduled for preventive exams and remind them to come to the Health Center. This helps detect diseases in their early stages and increase the chance of full recovery. Also, the treatments are much cheaper, and the awareness of need for preventive exams is raised. Since the contact center's implementation, there was much less disgruntled patients and doctors, because scheduling is easier and number of misunderstandings is lower.
„Creating the contact center, which Saga implemented for 'Novi Sad' Health Center, enabled us to be closer to the citizens, to simplify the scheduling system as much as possible, and to provide additional information to our patients. Through this project we increased number of appointments by 25%, avoided long waiting queues, and established better contact with the users of our services. That is why our patients are now much more satisfied.“
dr Života Lazarević,
General Manager, “Novi Sad“ Health Center