Radiology Call Center uses lean thinking to improve customer service
With a more streamlined way of doing business, our customers are continually amazed at how well we handle their requests,” says Radiology Call Center associate Jan Rohraff. “Over and over, I hear remarks like, ‘You would do this for me?’ and ‘You can coordinate these together?’ When I hear this, I know we’ve made a difference.”
Rohraff is one of 12 staff members who handle the internal clinic-to-clinic requests for more than 600,000 radiology procedures each year—about 85 percent of all radiology requests at UMHS. The group recently applied lean thinking to improve customer service.
Director of the Division of Cardiothoracic Radiology Ella Kazerooni, M.D., explains there are between four and 12 “touches” per patient encounter for every radiology procedure. “That’s a tremendous amount of contact. The Radiology Call Center is often the gateway to the Radiology department. That’s where the first impression is made.”
That was why Kazerooni formed a quality improvement team and asked M-LINE, another successful Health System call center, to partner with the group to look at best practices and recommend ways to improve customer service.
Staff cross-trained for all Radiology areas, revamped phone skills and streamlined workflow. Now staff can schedule just about any request, combining multiple calls into one request, and reducing the time callers wait in the phone queue. The result? Abandonment rates and longest delay have been reduced by approximately 73 percent and 67 percent, respectively. And the center’s service level is up 49 percent.
“We wanted to create an environment where staff could enjoy their jobs every day while striving to meet the needs of our customers,” says Damon Lively, call center supervisor and member of the center’s quality improvement team.
The team created opportunities for staff involvement and recognition. Staff met the Radiology physicians whose schedules they book. The Radiology Call Center plans to go to one scheduling line for “one-stop shopping” for callers—and to move other scheduling responsibilities, such as Nuclear Medicine, to the main location at the North Campus Administrative Complex.“
Our patients are the ultimate beneficiary—and because we engaged our staff in the process, our staff benefits, too,” Lively says.
Kazerooni says, “Our measures show that when you engage a group of people and give them the tools, they can do amazing things.” —CM
"Great article! I have done some work in this call center as an Ergonomic Specialist. Damon Lively is very committed to employee health and safety. I know how hard the call center employees work and it sounds like this will increase not only patient, but staff satisfaction." - Jacqueline Eckert, Safety Management, Ergonomics
"I think this is fantastic because anything that can cut down the time on the phone making apointments is great. Sometimes I am on the phone waiting alone for 10 to 15 min without even making the apointment. Then have to call a different department to scheduele antother apointment and it might take another 15 to 20 min. I have even been on hold for almost a half of an hour that is very frustrating. I know other people get frustrated about that too. So this is a very good thing. I do love to be able to make one call in the University and they can tell me all of my appointments with different doctors at the same time, with one call. My only concern in scheduling everything is don't these schedulers for different department have to know about the different test to be able to answer questions for the patient? Thank you." - Pansy Mizell, Environmental Services
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