Advocate Medical Group Improves Customer Service Through Call Recording and Monitoring

By Chris Heim

Advocate Health Care, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is a faith-based, not-for-profit health system. It is the largest healthcare provider in Illinois and is recognized as one of the top 25 integrated healthcare systems in the country. Founded in 1980, Advocate Medical Group is one of the leading medical group practices in Chicagoland, with more than 700 physicians providing a wide range of medical and surgical care. Advocate Medical Group physicians are affiliated with Advocate Health Care Hospitals and provide outpatient care and diagnostic services at more than 80 locations.

The Challenge: The 100 staff members in Advocate Medical Group’s Patient Care Express Contact Center represent the hub of communications activity for this large, integrated health system medical group. When Advocate Medial Group began acquiring new physician practices, the ability to provide detailed records and a better audit trail became essential for building trust, as well as establishing and maintaining quality service standards not only for the patients, but also for internal customers. These 24/7 services included appointment scheduling, messaging, physician pages, appointment reminders, and medical advice provided to patients through the nurse line. The ability to easily access recordings of these calls was essential to validate and improve the quality of all communications.

The administration team was using call recording software and had even used handheld recorders at one point to capture this information, but they needed better ways to store and retrieve these important files. “The systems in place did not provide us with the right amount of clarity in the recordings or the detail needed to store and retrieve the files when needed,” said Karen Baker, administrative supervisor for Advocate’s answering service department. “We needed to find a better system that simplified the process and also provided a standard training tool for our team.”

The Solution: Advocate selected MediaSTAR™ call center recording solution from Amcom Software. A long-time customer for operator consoles, as well as emergency and incident notification and management, Advocate decided that a complementary solution from an existing vendor would be the best option.

Advocate Medical Group is now able to record and archive calls to its network for easy retrieval. They can now capture all calls in the following areas:

  • Physician pages, including at-home conversations
  • Patient appointment reminders
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Centralized messaging
  • Nurse triage advice

Advocate Medical Group is also using call recording for quality management. “With the volume of calls we handle, sometimes an agent may present an adverse tone or step outside of protocol. [Call recording] is an essential asset with coaching, mentoring, and working on ways to improve the exchange of information. When people hear how they sound to a customer, they’re often amazed. It’s an incentive to hear how you come across. We like to use it as a motivator. When we get a compliment on how a call was handled, we always send it to the associate to let them know,” Baker said.

Supervisors will randomly ask associates if a call can be monitored in real time, then the results are discussed in a positive format that points out what’s being done correctly and what needs improvement.

Advocate Medical Group’s Patient Care Express will soon begin using the system as the single tool for employee call scoring and quality assurance. This will enable a supervisor not only to review calls but also to grade them on quality aspects, such as how clearly words are spoken, use of proper medical terminology, pace, and so forth. Call scoring will allow for more in-depth reporting across the team, as well as clear categories for associates to consider when on calls. It will enable the contact center to measure the adherence to policies and standards, as well as the agent’s soft skills in a consistent, formulated manner.

The Results: The staff greatly appreciates the new system. “Today the team is able to extract a recording file easily for a given communication to provide an audit trail when necessary,” Baker added. “All of our calls are stored and retained for the required amount of time to comply with both Advocate and industry policies.”

Having easily accessible recordings of calls has proven extremely helpful in resolving issues, miscommunications, broken processes, and clarifying disputes. “The level of performance, quality, and loyalty has improved across the team and across the system with the ability to listen to the interaction taking place during our calls,” Baker said.

Additionally, call recording has increased focus on training efforts, helped to identify process improvement opportunities, and facilitated employee development. “Call monitoring is inarguably one of the best methods of improving call quality and service delivery,” said Baker. “Our professionalism, efficiency, and overall customer experience have definitely benefited. Advocate Medical Group’s Patient Care Express has realized significant improvements in call quality, customer satisfaction, associate performance, and overall contact center performance. We have been able to identify improvements in our clinical quality and safety outcomes by the ability to conduct and report in-depth root cause analysis on adverse events and incidents. This makes Advocate Medical Group a safer and more responsible organization.”

“Call quality monitoring allows Advocate Medical Group to be reflective of the customer’s value and expectations,” added Tina Kennedy, director of Patient Care Express. “It empowers the contact center with the ability to truly measure the customer experience. This is the competitive edge and the customer value-added focus that sets Advocate Medical Group apart from other organizations.”

Chris Heim is CEO of Amcom Software in Eden Prairie, MN. For more information, call 800-852-8935. Sixteen of the top nineteen hospitals in the U.S. rely on Amcom Software to run their mission-critical communications. Solutions include call center communications, emergency management, mobile messaging middleware, and paging, as well as the above-mentioned MediaSTAR.

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