Nicole Limpert is the marketing content writer for 1Call. 1Call develops call center software solutions and applications designed for the specific needs of healthcare organizations.
Hospital call center operators are also Healthcare Heroes and are playing a critical role in their organization’s response to the coronavirus crisis. State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University leveraged their call center software to provide flexibility and enable their organization to respond quickly to the COVID-19 crisis to support their communities while keeping their staff safe.
“We played an immediate role in the hospital’s corporate response to the coronavirus pandemic,” explains Shelley White, Director of Patient Access Services for SUNY Upstate Medical University. “A COVID-19 hotline was established and we took calls from multiple counties in our area. Within two weeks, our call volume drastically increased, and we needed more space in our call centers to work while practicing social distancing. We set-up additional remote operator workstations so more of our agents could work from home. This kept our staff safe while serving the community.”
Running a call center in a virtual server environment, or in the cloud, gives hospitals the ability to use remote operators. These tools are scalable and offer fully functioning call handling to transform any personal computer into a professional telephone agent station.
“We were able to redistribute existing staff from other departments and tap into their skills to cross-train them to work for the switchboard,” states White. “In our situation, patient access staff and medical answer teams were trained on easy calls and were then able to work from home as remote operators. These staff members are now even more valuable to our organization.”
White’s team also assisted staff within the hospital. SUNY Upstate Medical University is the only ACS certified Level I Trauma Center in the region and serves about 1.7 million people and 28 referral hospitals. White says, “During this coronavirus crisis, our ER registration is short-staffed, but we are able to help by watching our track board, which is tied into the EMR system with Epic. When a COVID-19 patient is admitted, we can call the patient to register them and verify insurance information over the phone. This process would normally be done in-person by ER staff, but we can do it remotely and ease some of their workload.”
Call centers in every industry have been affected by the pandemic. In healthcare, communication setbacks can mean life or death. White was able to use her call center’s software to quickly adjust to an unpredictable environment, “Our software has given us so much flexibility to keep up with this ever-changing COVID-19 crisis. We were able to smooth workflow peaks and valleys and went from being overwhelmed with calls at the beginning of this situation, to having improved call metrics.”
White is confident in her team and their ability to serve the community, “SUNY Upstate Medical University is doing well during this COVID-19 crisis. We've been a community leader in so many ways, making everyone very proud. Our ability to rapidly adjust our call centers was instrumental in that response.”