Call Center Case Study: excelleRx

By Eric Camulli

Established in 1996, excelleRx provides medication counseling and pharmaceutical distribution services for 70,000 hospice and chronic care patients throughout the United States. To support its 800 client hospice organizations, excelleRx employs 645 team members, including 250 pharmaceutical care representatives who are highly trained pharma­cists and pharmacy technicians.

Hospice Pharmacia, the primary business unit of excelleRx, aims to change the way medication is deployed so that patients receive medications based on objective information instead of just habit or personal prefer­ence. More than just empty words, this dedication drives excelleRx to combine technology and clinical expertise to ensure that patients receive the appropriate medication for their unique situations.

Challenge: The mission is to provide the best care and support to the nurses who use Hospice Pharma­cia customer service. This involves making sure that nurses speak to the right representative at the right time. Many call centers have seasonal spikes, which can be easier to staff for, but Hospice Pharmacia experiences spikes in call volume differently.

“Because our nurses are mobile, we see call spikes in the morning, at noon, and at the end of the day,” said excelleRx Vice President of IT Steve Lemak. “When nurses call, it’s vital that they speak to an expert, not just a warm body. Our pharmaceutical care representa­tives are highly specialized technical experts, so it isn’t easy to find temporary help – es­pecially without overstaffing for the rest of the day.”

For a mobile workforce of nurses and other caregivers providing care to patients, being tied to a phone for even five minutes is unacceptable, so how can operations be optimized without sacrificing quality of service?

Solution: A custom callback solution from Virtual Hold was implemented for Hospice Pharmacia. The callback solution virtually eliminates caller hold time. If there is a call queue when a nurse calls, the system informs the nurse of the estimated wait time and offers a choice: either wait on hold or receive a callback when a pharmaceutical care representative is available.

If a callback option is selected, the nurse’s place in line is maintained. The nurse hangs up and can move on with a busy day, secure in the knowledge that Hospice Pharmacia will call back when it said it would.

Results: High-tech, high-touch applications, like the callback solution, enable Hospice Pharma­cia to provide quality medical management services to its mobile workforce of nurses and caregivers. With this technology, they can ensure that nurses speak to the right person the first time, within the time promised. Moreover, even though it can be dif­ficult to estimate how long nurses will have to wait, the estimated wait time calculations result in callbacks that are on time 99% of the time.

As nurses become more comfortable in receiving a callback, utilization of the system continues to improve. In 2007, a callback was offered to 44% of callers and more than half of those opted for a callback. In 2008, nearly 72% of callers who were offered a callback accepted it, which is no surprise given how busy nurses are.

It “is a great product that’s really helped us out,” Lemak said. “A nurse’s time is very valuable, and we could be losing more than business when they’re on hold.”


  • 2 million minutes of hold time avoided
  • 54% boost in service level during peaks
  • 58% reduction in abandons during peaks

System Profile:

  • Nortel Symposium
  • Nortel MPS 500 IVR
  • Nortel IPML CTI
  • Virtual hold technology: Concierge
  • 2 locations
  • 2 queues
  • 250 representatives for 17,000 callers

As Chief Technology Officer of Virtual Hold Technology, Eric Camulli is responsible for leading the direction and architecture of solution development to ensure that VHT’s virtual queuing solutions meet the needs of a diverse client base. With more than a decade of experience in the telecom and contact center industries, Eric combines technical expertise with an understanding of the challenges facing today’s contact centers.

[From the December 2009/January 2010 issue of AnswerStat magazine]