State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University, located in Syracuse, New York, has a campus that is comprised of hospital, clinical, academic, research, residential, and campus facilities. The Upstate University Health System includes Upstate University Hospital, Upstate University Hospital at Community Campus, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, and multiple offices to serve 1.8 million people. The care they provide extends from Canada to Pennsylvania and includes a robust telemedicine program to assist rural communities.
SUNY Upstate Medical University is the region’s largest employer with 9,460 employees. With a $600+ million payroll and numerous facilities, Upstate is a powerhouse for the economy of Central New York, generating $2.3 billion for the region.
Identifying Areas for Improvement
SUNY Upstate Medical University wanted to improve their healthcare call center performance and reduce caller wait times, shorten the time spent on each call, lower the call center’s abandonment rates, and provide a better caller and patient experience.
When looking at the call answering process, they discovered the time it took for operators to obtain information from callers could be improved. “We realized operators had to ask a series of questions to figure out which patient they were talking to,” says Jody Williams, Call Center Systems Administrator for Upstate. “Right now, they answer the calls with, ‘Thank you for calling, this is Jody, may I have the patient’s date of birth?’ and they search for everyone by birth date.”
The call center operators needed more information about each caller sooner, to reduce the overall time of the call, and to handle calls more efficiently.
Healthcare Communication Partners
Upstate has used 1Call’s healthcare communication software since 2006 and works closely with 1Call staff to meet their enterprise-wide communication needs. Jody comments, “We use several products from 1Call. Perfect Answer enables us to record custom greetings and automatically plays those greeting before operators answer calls. We use Appointment Reminders and just started using MergeComm to send SMS reminders, which people seem to really appreciate.”
Upstate contacted 1Call for guidance, and 1Call confirmed it was possible for their Guided Scripting to bridge the communication gap, while making sure calls would look the same to operators.
For incoming calls, the automatic number identification (ANI) would be sent to Epic’s EMR database. Jody explains, “When the call comes in, the caller ID is pushed out to Epic, and then Epic returns the patient’s record on the operator’s screen. Operators can verify who they are speaking with using a shorter list of questions that are related to everyone who’s associated with that caller ID.”
Integration testing began between Upstate, 1Call, and Epic. 1Call worked on the scripting piece and Upstate’s in-house Epic staff worked with experts located at Epic’s Verona, Wisconsin campus.
1Call keeps track of the time spent on calls and Upstate is looking forward to seeing improved statistics. Jody explains, “We’re hoping we can cut 10-20% off the duration of each call. That will make a huge difference over the course of the whole day.”
Epic Systems Corporation, or Epic, is a privately held healthcare software company founded in 1979 by Judith R. Faulkner, and located in Verona, Wisconsin.