In the 1970s, answering machines were all the rage. We bought one for my grandparents so we could leave messages if they were at the river, on their boat or fishing. By the 1980s, they were getting up in age. Operating the new speaker mode on the answering machine, without cutting me off, had really complicated things for them. For all the technological changes they experienced with telephony, the one they struggled with the most was the evolution of voice prompting systems, which predated the auto attendants we use, today. It turns out, my grandparents were not alone – and this struggle remains an issue for many older customers, especially in the healthcare industry.
According to Cullman Primary Care Multi-Specialty Group (CPC), many older people have a hard time listening to and following the automated menus. They have hearing loss that causes them to miss instructions and prompts; and they have sight problems that make it difficult to see the keypad on a phone. It’s not uncommon for older patients to get flustered from having to punch in a bunch of numbers and listen to multiple messages just to reach their doctor or nurse. Essentially, they get lost and confused in what seems like an endless loop of mechanical demands.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
CPC understood the frustration, and decided to reach out for assistance in finding a solution. Integrated Communications Solutions (ICS) is a Digium partner that specializes in providing medical industry professionals with everything from simple VoIP solutions to complex IT fixes. By implementing Digium’s Switchvox Unified Communications (UC) solution, they were able to centralize CPC’s multiple doctors’ offices and clinics operating throughout Cullman, Alabama, into a single hub at the primary medical center.
CPC no longer has to tell a caller to hang up and dial another number if they reach the wrong office for their doctor. They have also eliminated system overloads that disconnect a caller (when on hold) or leave them in an unanswerable loop. In the emergency medical field, that was not a good thing.
Switchvox reduced prior telephone costs by 40 percent for CPC, and allowed them to tackle some of the growing demands of the expanding medical center. They were also able to do further call customization, without investing in expensive upgrades common to proprietary phone systems, or sacrificing quality or technical support.
One of those call customizations was finding a proprietary workaround that gave all of their community-oriented patient care centers and doctors’ groups the ability to route patient calls, directly to their doctor. The routing occurs automatically, based on caller ID. This was especially useful for CPC’s elderly patients.
On the surface, this may seem standard practice in today’s IP environment, but thanks to the flexibility of Switchvox, all ICS had to do was add some special programming in the route table to force specific caller ID numbers directly into their doctor’s or nurse’s call queue, bypassing the auto attendant. Since numbers are commonly added and deleted on a frequent basis, the programming had to be simple and fluid. Due to the power of Switchvox, it was a unique request that was easily answered.
To learn more about how Cullman Primary Care is utilizing VoIP click here.