Multiple Means of Support
As one of the largest healthcare centers in the mid-South, University of Kentucky HealthCare comprises 80 specialized clinics, 143 outreach programs, and a team of 6,000 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and healthcare workers.
But up until a year ago, UK HealthCare didn’t have a state-of-the-art contact center system capable of supporting multiple call centers and healthcare applications on a single platform.
Instead, each healthcare clinic had its own staff and scheduling systems, according to Doyle Friskney, chief technical officer at UK HealthCare. Over time, each had developed its own method of communicating with patients, including key systems, call sequences, regular phones running off campus private branch exchanges, and even Voice over Internet Protocol.
“The bottom line is they all had a different type of system,” Friskney says. “There weren’t very many that were the same.”
This mixed system led to a lot of confusion—particularly for patients. So when a new executive vice president for health affairs took charge five years ago, he made moves to rectify the situation.
“He realized that one of the things he absolutely had to do was to improve the perception of customer service,” says Friskney, who notes that UK HealthCare needed to change how customers and patients communicated with medical staff and to create a common phone system.
UK HealthCare ultimately wanted the flexibility to change how it serviced calls and to create new business processes that would complement existing business plans. “We wanted a system that would allow us to replicate what we had, but be flexible enough to migrate to a different type of system as [things] changed,” Friskney explains.
Thus began UK HealthCare’s search for a call center solution, but the organization quickly discovered that most software packages “expected you to have one massive call center” with centralized administration, Friskney says. This certainly wasn’t what was in place at UK HealthCare, which operates dozens of small call centers, each with between three and 10 agents.
“We desperately wanted the ability to have administrative call pattern information across all of those call centers,” Friskney says. “We wanted horizontal management views across all call centers, and then we wanted each call center to have its own unique management view.”
According to Friskney, only one or two vendors were capable of providing that sort of solution. So after a thorough vetting process, UK HealthCare went with a company and solution that weren’t originally on its radar: CosmoCom and CosmoCall Universe, its unified contact center suite.
And that decision, according to Bill Frazier, southeast sales director at CosmoCom, resulted from his company’s unique ability to fit the specific needs of UK HealthCare.
Steve Kaish, vice president of product management at CosmoCom, echoes these sentiments, noting that UK HealthCare called both reference customers and non-reference customers before making a final decision.
“[UK HealthCare] said invariably that we got very good marks for our ability to partner with a customer and provide good support for them through installation and into the support phase of the project,” he says.
Since the initial deployment of CosmoCall Universe—one clinic at a time for more than a year—UK HealthCare has seen some impressive results.
According to UK HealthCare’s Friskney, CosmoCom Universe gave each manager at each clinic the ability to manage calls in his call center by providing “all the sophisticated capabilities of a call center.” Additionally, the solution provided the staff responsible for the clinics with the ability to watch call flow across all call centers, and thus, better understand how UK HealthCare was servicing clients.
“It instantly gave us significant management information that we had not had historically,” Friskney says, adding that CosmoCall Universe also provided for an increased degree of standardization within the call centers. “It gave us the ability to be consistent, which really helped [patients] in trying to stay in touch with us, and it wasn’t nearly as confusing as it was in the past.”
Friskney says the solution also improved the quality of call responses and even resulted in some cost savings. However, he is quick to stress that UK HealthCare’s decision to implement the solution had little to do with cost savings or call handling times. “The issue wasn’t savings that drove the program to begin with,” he says. “It was improving customer contact.”
With so many clinics and types of call centers at UK HealthCare, the deployment was massive, and, although it went smoothly, Friskney admits that along the way there were some minor challenges—or what he calls “all the little mountains you have to knock down.”
Friskney says those minor challenges included integrating CosmoCom’s software, which took longer than originally anticipated, the initial learning curve that comes with the implementation of a new solution and software, and some changes that needed to be made on CosmoCom’s end—changes he says the company was “very receptive” to making.
Frazier says CosmoCom helped UK HealthCare fix all of the issues. He describes the deployment as proceeding extremely smoothly. “It’s amazing how our system goes in, and customers are happy on very short order,” he says. “The only issues I ever see are with infrastructure.”
The reaction to the deployment has been better than Friskney expected. He cites the efficiency of the system and the additional information it provides for its warm reception.
A case in point: When one clinic’s call center that had already adopted CosmoCall Universe was forced to go offline and return to its previous system, staff members made their feelings about the new solution crystal-clear. “Within two days they were asking to be migrated back,” Friskney says. “They recognized the difference when they went back to their old system.”
Friskney credits careful and thorough planning for the success of UK HealthCare’s deployment of CosmoCall Universe. “A lot of people in technology will just start looking at software packages and—by intuition and knowledge of their particular area—have a tendency to select one system over another system without ever asking the persons being affected what they needed,” Friskney says, stressing that UK HealthCare performed significant up-front analysis that paid dividends along the way.
And because of the success of the deployment, Frazier predicts that the University of Kentucky might deploy CosmoCall Universe at additional sites—both on campus and at newly acquired health centers—in the future.
“There are lots of different departments we see deploying,” he says. “They expect to deploy us across every [healthcare] entity they acquire.”