South Coast Radiology consolidates 13 front desks into one call centre with Mitel unified communications

Thursday, 04 October, 2012

South Coast Radiology has used unified communications to centralise communications from its satellite offices into a call centre at head office, realising efficiency and fiscal benefits in the process.

The company has 230 staff and 13 clinics around Queensland. Until recently, each of the clinics was responsible for taking calls, from both patients and medical professionals.

“The sheer volume of calls coming into those sites was overloading the front desks. It was starting to compromise patient care. You’ve got a queue of patients there, who are trying to get seen, trying to register, and the phones are ringing off the hook,” said Paul Johansen, General Manager at South Coast Radiology.

Clinics were also missing calls - patients and doctors calling in would sometimes get engaged signals and at other times hang up after getting tired of waiting in a queue.

In 2011, the company went to tender for a contact centre solution. The company wanted to remove call handling from the clinics and centralise this function in a contact centre based at head office. The company was considering VoIP, because it wanted to make use of its existing network bandwidth. It ended up employing a Mitel unified communications suite, implemented by Voice Print Data.

The company installed a Mitel 3300 CX Controller at each of its clinics and a centralised contact centre (enterprise edition) at the company’s head office. Under the new system, calls come in to the individual clinics but are routed to the call centre, over the company’s fibre links.

With limited technology skills internally, South Coast Radiology wanted flexibility from the solution, particularly when it came to implementation.

“We didn’t do all the sites at once, because we didn’t know the volume of calls. We actually went site by site. That slow transition - starting to switch them over, getting the call centre staff trained - was so important. Having partners and suppliers that would give you that flexibility has allowed us to learn about the business,” said Johansen.

The call centre now handles more than 1000 calls a day and callers are able to get on to staff quicker. Where once it would take doctors 15-20 minutes to get through, it now takes less than two minutes.

With calls now taken out of the clinics themselves, clinic staff are able to provide better service for patients.

“They’re not being distracted by phones that are constantly ringing. They can actually take more time with the patient at the front desk,” Johansen said.

Centralising call management into the contact centre has allowed the company to standardise the way it takes bookings.

“Where an ultrasound may have been booked for 40 minutes, it was then standardised to 30,” he said.

This streamlining has allowed the company to process more patients in a day, directly increasing revenues.

The system also has some disaster recovery features. The fibre links do sometimes go down, so calls in the new system can’t get through to the call centre. But with the new system, South Coast Radiology can turn off call diversion very quickly and resume call intake, without involving any of the telcos responsible for the fibre links.

“As soon as a link is lost, we get notified immediately. We can contact the sites and get them, with four keystrokes into the phone system, to switch off that call diversion and revert to taking calls at the clinics,” Johansen said.

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