Case Study | Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital: Using Scripting to Increase Efficiency, Reduce Errors, and Reduce Training Time for Operators
Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital, previously known as Mercy Medical Center, became part of the Cleveland Clinic health system in 2021. Mercy Hospital operates a 476-bed hospital in Canton, Ohio, and several outpatient locations in Alliance, Carroll County, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, Massillon, North Canton, Plain Township, and Tuscarawas County. Mercy Hospital employs 620 medical staff members, plus an additional 2,800 caregivers. Mercy Hospital is a Catholic hospital that continues the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. It prides itself on being dedicated to excellence and healing.
A Busy Call Center
Mercy Hospital's call center typically answers almost 90,000 calls each month. They handle a wide variety of requests from callers, including calls for patients and hospital employees, answering service calls for physicians, code calls, alarm calls, prescription refills, remote receptionists, appointments, and scheduling.
A Major Update
When the hospital upgraded its call center system to 1Call's Intelligent Series (IS) platform, the new software gave them innovative scripting capabilities, allowing them to script the various calls received by their call center. The IS platform significantly enhanced the organization's directories, on-call scheduling, and reporting capabilities. After upgrading, the significant advantages were "fewer errors, happier physicians, and being better able to accommodate physicians and their busy lives," according to Systems Analyst II Carolyn Sonnefeld.
Significant Training Improvements
One of the most significant benefits scripting brings to Mercy Hospital is the reduced training time for operators. Before scripting, training a new operator involved explaining how each type of call needed to be handled and any special requirements for some physicians. This process could take up to a month for new operators to become familiar with all the details.
Now, Carolyn builds that type of information directly into the scripts, which has reduced training time for a new operator to about one day. Carolyn said, "Now we can pretty much pull anyone in, sit them down, and off they go."
Easy Script Building
Carolyn uses script templates to speed up building scripts and to set up new physician accounts. "It took about a month to do some basic work, with a few tricks here and there. I feel confident that probably a couple of months into it, I felt there wasn't a whole lot I couldn't handle," stated Carolyn.
Keeping Physicians Happy
When working with new physicians, Carolyn collects their basic office information, contact information, and asks how they want their calls handled on weekdays, nights, and weekends. New physicians often challenge her, asking if the call center can provide particular services. "They'll say, 'Can you do that?' And people are really surprised at our technology and what we can do." She continued, "Never once have I told someone I can't do that. Because I actually can."
Simplified Call Handling
Carolyn said, "As soon as we started using scripts, call time was shorter, errors were fewer, and training was better. It was just all around more efficient."
The primary reason that scripting reduces errors and speeds call processing is that scripting does all the work in the background. The scripts automatically determine how to contact the physician based on the current day and time. "They don't have to think outside of the box. It makes calls faster, and it improves efficiency. There are fewer errors this way, and everything is done right there for you. You just follow your screen – top to bottom, left to right," stated Carolyn.
Before using scripting, consults were the most challenging type of call Mercy Hospital's call center handled. Carolyn says, "Every doctor has their own way they want consult calls handled." Now that they are using scripting, "We get all of the necessary information from the caller, such as where the patient is and what the consult is about. IS automatically pulls in all of that for the operator based on the time of day, day of the week, and what the doctor prefers to be called for. It knows who we're sending it to and where we're sending it (to their home phone, cell phone, or pager). Before IS scripting, that was a little bit of a bear. There were lots of errors there."
When a physician or multiple physicians need to be contacted, IS scripting also simplifies that process. "All the work is done behind the scenes, with the advantage of, for each, we page out several groups and individuals. So it's one button that does all the work. And then in the background, we're getting all of these people contacted, all at the same time," said Carolyn.
The IS platform is also integrated with Mercy Hospital's HL7 patient information database. "We can pull in information based on which hospital it is, and that eliminates spelling errors, date of birth errors – things like that. It speeds up the call time, pulls in all that information very quickly, and then as soon as we select the 'Next' button, the script handles the rest," said Carolyn.
A Team Effort
Ensuring everything is current and updated can be a challenge for any organization. To expedite this, Mercy Hospital has a special script for this purpose. "We created a script within our department for operators to help report things, give ideas, and things that need to be changed or updated. It's all very neat in one account, and I don't have to go anywhere else for that information. The operators really like that," stated Carolyn.
Determining what happened on a particular call is very easy with IS. "I use a lot of the IS reports, trying to investigate calls. I would say that's a huge perk now. I can tell pretty much what happens with calls, whether it be an operator error, something that happened during the call, or if someone hung up – things like that. I feel like Inspector Gadget. It's really great; I love it!" said Carolyn.
Advice to Others
When talking to others about upgrading to 1Call's IS, Carolyn typically asks them what their most challenging type of call is and then tells them how scripting can help make those calls so much easier. "The biggest thing is that nothing is impossible," Carolyn said. "It looks better, and it's cleaner, neater, just very nice all around."
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