Case Study: Speech Recognition Application

By Steve Green

Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, MA, encompasses an ambulatory care center serving more than 3,000 patients each day and a 259-bed hospital. In addition, the Lahey Clinic Medical Center Northshore in Peabody, MA, serves more than 400 outpatients each day and includes a 10-bed hospital.

These facilities are all served by the Lahey Telecommunications Department, whose staff of 30 operators (consisting of full time, part time, and per diem staff) handle between 68,000-75,000 calls per month. In recent years, the department faced a persistent challenge: To reduce the number of calls made to operators by “internal” callers – physicians and hospital staff.

“It was becoming a real service issue,” explained Lisa Guarino, Telecommunications Manager, Lahey Clinic. “We needed our operators available to answer calls from patients and other callers outside the hospital. No matter how many options we offered – IVR systems, online directory information – employees kept calling the operators.”

The Solution

Speech recognition technology from Amcom Software provided an effective solution. The applications, which run from the same Oracle database as Lahey’s operator services and web directory applications, enable callers to “ask” an automated line for a connection or page without ever speaking to an operator. Since implementing the speech recognition lines, Lahey has quickly achieved its goal of reducing internal calls to operators and improving service to patients.

The Results

  • Call volume to Lahey operators has been reduced by 20 percent because of calls being handled automatically by the speech recognition system.
  • Approximately 2,800 pages per month are handled without operator assistance.
  • Operators have more availability to answer patient and “high value” calls, while the speech recognition handles routine transfers and paging requests.
  • The Lahey Telecommunications Department has reduced operator overtime hours and the use of “per diem” staff.
  • Lahey employees have found the speech recognition line easy to use and have adopted the new technology quickly.

How it works: Lahey Clinic uses speech recognition for three distinct functions: As an automated “main number,” as an operator assistance number for internal users, and as an automated receptionist answering calls to General Internal Medicine.

  • When people dial the main listed number, the speech recognition system asks them to say one of five options: Appointment, Billing, Medical Records, Patient Information, or Name of a physician, department, or staff member. The system listens, then completes the connection.
  • When staff and employees dial the internal speech line, the system asks whether the caller wants to “call” or “page” someone, then steps the caller through the process via prompts and the caller’s spoken responses.
  • Speech recognition is also used to handle calls to Lahey’s General Internal Medicine Department. Callers are asked to say one of four options – Future Appointment, Prescription Renewal, Medical Records, or Billing – or they can say “operator” to reach the department receptionist.

For more information call 800-852-8935.

[From the December 2005/January 2006 issue of AnswerStat magazine]