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UC brings better patient response at UKHealthCare

CosmoHealth software helps University of Kentucky improve response from network of 50 clinics

When the University of Kentucky’s UKHealthCare went looking for new call center technology, the goal was to improve service to customers of the 50+ clinics that UKHealthCare operates by providing a common approach to voice communications that could be centrally managed. But UKHealthCare also wanted to let each clinic handle its own call center needs, since those vary widely depending on the size of the clinic and its specialty.

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Satisfying those two goals led UKHealthCare to CosmoCom, a provider of IP contact center technology with a telehealth system, CosmoHealth, that uses unified communications to intelligently rout inbound and outbound calls while interoperating with Electronic Health Records to deliver accurate patient information with each call.

“We had about 50 clinics and each of them had different phone systems so it probably caused a lot of confusion amongst our customers as to how to access clinic resources,” said Doyle Friskney, CTO at the University of Kentucky. “Our goal was to find a way to make customer contacts with university clinics more successful. We decided to put a call center package in but we were looking for one unique capability and that was that each of these 50 clinics was going to be separate. Basically, we wanted to set up 50 small call centers but one horizontal management view of all 50. Only a few of the call center packages we looked at could do that.”

As a software-based approach, the CosmoHealth package provided that flexibility, along with the ability to reconfigure the system to accommodate consolidation of clinics or expansion. Equally important, the CosmoHealth approach maintains separate databases for each clinic, so patient health records are more protected, meeting federal HIPPA requirements.

“That was the hardest criteria for call centers,” Friskney said. “To deal with each clinic as an autonomous unit was very important to us for a lot of reasons. And to have the flexibility to change all that in a matter of hours without a forklift upgrade if we decide to combine two or three clinics was also very important.”

By centralizing management, the UKHealthCare clinics could operate more efficiently, and get a better picture of how clinics were handling calls – whether there were long hold times or periods when calls didn’t get answered promptly, Friskney said.

“One of the drivers we saw was that they didn’t have to dispatch technicians to go make adds moves and changes on 50 different sites, which saves a lot of time,” said Bill Frazier, regional sales director, Southeast Region, for CosmoCom. “Also, one of their head people in medical center could establish guidelines for telephony, how the phones are answered and how quickly, which gives them a better picture of how things are working.”

As a unified communication system, the CosmoHealth contact center supported both voicemail and email for call agents, and integrated with the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 deployment that the University of Kentucky had already adopted.

“That is really important to us,” Friskney said. “To the masses, our unified communication system is OCS.”

CosmoCom is developing a solution that will interoperate with OCS on presence as well, Frazier said. “We already have presence in our system and we will be expanding that, so that the [call agents] using our system will be able to see the status and presence of everybody in their system on or off campus.”

In addition, the CosmoCom system enables calling agents at the clinics to manage multiple conference bridges at one time, something Friskney said was absolutely vital.

“If [an agent] is on a conference bridge, waiting for a doctor or a pharmacy, and an ambulance calls in after an accident, that agent needs to be able to manage multiple conference bridges on demand and be able to add and drop people on the fly,” Friskney said.

UKHealthcare and CosmoCom have been working together for about two years, and that work has helped feed into CosmoCom’s push into healthcare with its CosmoHealth solution, Frazier said.

“Customers can start relatively small and scale up very easily without forklift upgrades,” said Steve Kaish, vice president, Product Management & CIO of CosmoCom. “Because it is all IP and because of additional things we put in the software, we think the system is uniquely suited for large distributed environments. It can be deployed in one or two data centers, with failover capabilities, or you can even distribute certain components closer to the agent, when that makes sense.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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