In the midst of crisis situations, hospitals and healthcare organizations need to be able to communicate important health and safety information to patients in a timely manner — and at scale. During COVID-19, hospitals have scrambled to set up nonessential personnel to work remotely, including call center staff. This has led some hospitals to look for alternative ways to communicate with their communities. Here’s how one CDW customer recently implemented call center automation.

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Connecting with Patients

A hospital in south Florida was looking for a better way to contact patients with their COVID-19 test results. Up until that point, it had been using a group of agents to dial manually from a list. The hospital’s IT team reached out to CDW and our partner Cisco for a solution. This was a natural move for them, as they already had Cisco Contact Center Express (CCX) in place with premium licenses.

The choice to use the Outbound Interactive Voice Response (IVR) dialer feature was an obvious one. Cisco graciously provided a 60-day temporary license for 50 outbound ports, and CDW provided the engineering personnel to design and configure the solution.

Designing a Solution

The agreed-upon design had the outbound dialer calling individual phone numbers with the patient’s birthdate and corresponding test date. When the called party answered, the IVR played a greeting, offered various language options (English, Spanish or Creole), and had the patient confirm that the date read to them by the system was indeed the patient’s birthdate. It was assumed that adults would accept for their children and/or spouses.

Upon confirmation of the birth and test dates, the system would play a standard message indicating negative test results, along with other useful information about combating the coronavirus. If the caller did not confirm the birthdate, the call was terminated.

Independent of whether the called party successfully confirmed the birthdate, the IVR would write the caller’s choice to an external Microsoft SQL database that the hospital would use to track the campaign and make the outbound dial list. That way, the hospital knows, after all outbound calls had been made via the dialer, that the entries without updates would need to be dialed again in the next run.

The design also specified that if the responding party was an answering machine or voicemail, not a live person, that the call would be terminated. This would close the contact for this run of the campaign and these numbers would need to be called again in the next dialer run. Any other call result would be attempted one more time in the campaign run before being closed.

Automating Success

In Phase 1 of the project, the dialer list was manually uploaded to the campaign at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Phase 2 leveraged the automatic scheduled list feature, where a scheduled job running at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. would load the campaign contact list from an SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) location, making the process even more automated.

While this is an ongoing process, the customer has so far seen success from it, with the main goal of taking a manual process and quickly automating it having been achieved. As this experience shows, when communicating information is critical, automated IVRs offer not only a way to improve your call center processes but also an opportunity to make a real impact on your end users.