Case Study: University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

By Laura LaLuzerne

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has provided care for more than 520,000 people with cancer since 1944. The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has built a worldwide reputation for excellence in cancer patient care, research, education, and prevention.

During 2002, the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center had more than 60,000 patients, including 22,000 new patients. There were 471,728 outpatient treatments, procedures, and visits. In addition, there were 18,781 inpatient admissions. M. D. Anderson has approximately 13,000 employees, including clinical and research faculty.

A Call Center Challenge: M. D. Anderson had three separate call centers to handle the large call volume for its patients and employees. One call center handled institutional calls, another handled patient information calls, and still another handled new patient referral calls. Combined, these three call centers answered approximately 250,000 calls each month.

Managing and staffing multiple call centers was difficult, so M. D. Anderson began to search for a better alternative, one that would allow them to offer more services. According to Mark De Los Santos, Director of the Welcome Center at M. D. Anderson, “M. D. Anderson had a strategic vision where we wanted to take call processing within the institution. We wanted to be able to do what a normal institutional operator does, which is basically route calls, initiate pages, and everything else, but over and above that, we also wanted to be able to offer true answering service capabilities to our physicians.”

M. D. Anderson Welcome Center: After an extensive search, M. D. Anderson was able to merge their three call centers into one Welcome Center, with the implementation of the 1Call Infinity and eCreator systems in December 2002. De Los Santos said M. D. Anderson chose 1Call because it “offers telephony processing, just as any institution would look for, but also offers more. 1Call offers messaging and the ability to create scripting within the system via eCreator, whereby I can control the quality of the call regardless if you are only on the job one week, or 20 years. And based on the people I talked to, 1Call’s customer service was rated as highest.”

M. D. Anderson’s new Welcome Center Attendants are universal operators that can handle any type of call. Using Infinity and eCreator, they’ve watched their average call time drop from one minute per call to 30 seconds per call. The same amount of information is conveyed, but the calls are handled faster.

Additional Services: The Welcome Center Attendants now also act as Customer Service Representatives for the institution. Employees with telephony problems call in to the call center. Their information is entered and is then automatically faxed to the technicians.

The M. D. Anderson call center now handles Help Desk calls for their Human Resources Department. Operators enter what the person is looking for in the employee’s individual account in the Infinity system. They then use scripted questions to drill down using eCreator’s decision tree to find an answer for the caller.

Future Plans for the M. D. Anderson Welcome Center: M. D. Anderson is looking forward to implementing the Infinity Conference Bridge, which will give them the capability to connect up to 30 callers per conference. With researchers located globally, M. D. Anderson often has 15-20 people from around the world on a single conference call. It is estimated that they will be able to handle 98-99% of their conferencing needs internally, saving about $10,000 for the institution each month. Plans also include using the 1Call Infinity and eCreator systems in all of their business centers (clinics), so that their entire facility is on a single platform.

For more information about 1Call products, call 800-356-9148.

[From the Fall 2003 issue of AnswerStat magazine]