Just because Alaska Women’s Health, PC is one of the oldest OB/GYN practice groups in Anchorage, doesn’t mean the group does not know how to change with the times. The practice, which specializes in obstetrics, gynecology, urogynecology and infertility, realized the benefits of using an electronic health record to expedite and improve patient care. Alaska Women’s Health is in the midst of implementing the Greenway EMR into their practice. While moving to an EMR hasn’t always been easy for the group, the move is slowly paying off. In their move to reduce paperwork and improve efficiency, Alaska Women’s Health realized that they needed to improve the way they managed overnight calls. Administrative Director Cindy Alkire, RN, began looking for alternatives to the practice’s live answering service. See how On Call Central has paid off for Alaska Women’s Health.
At A Glance
- Alaska Women’s Health
- Anchorage, Alaska
- Number of Physicians: 7
- Number of Midwives: 3
- Live answering service was unreliable and did not filter out non-urgent calls.
- On Call Central automated call management system reduced non-urgent and “nuisance” calls by 75%.
- Users can define the menu options and call routing logic presented to incoming callers.
- Recorded calls reduce the documentation burden inherent in phone consultations.
- On call physicians get clear messages, rapidly and not relayed through untrained personnel.
- Customer service is superior to other medical technology companies working with Alaska Women’s Health.
- An intuitive interface allows for rapid adoption and shallow learning curve.
Being one of the largest OB/GYN practice groups in the state allows physicians and midwives of Alaska Women’s Health to touch countless lives of Alaskan women, but it also poses a logistic challenge for providers. Obstetrics and related clinical areas are round the clock professions, which means that physicians must be available at all hours. Unfortunately, the live answering services that Alaska Women’s Health used, “weren’t very good,” explains Cindy Alkire, the group’s Administrative Director. “They didn’t answer the phone routinely. Many times there was a delay in patients getting to the actual physician when they needed it. Sometimes messages didn’t get sent to us in a timely manner. There were a lot of issues.”
The overarching problem with the live answering service was that there was no gatekeeping at the point of the overnight call. Moreover, calls were slow in reaching clinicians and inaccurate when they did arrive. On the other hand, the clinician taking call was constantly bombarded with non-urgent calls. Cindy continues, “one of the reasons that we switched is because the doctors would get a lot of calls that were non-essential calls. They would get prescription refill calls and all sorts of calls that weren’t urgent matters, but that has changed immensely since we moved to On Call Central.” The live answering service was slowly and steadily funneling all callers directly to the on call physician. Cindy describes the extent of the problem, “the doctors were not getting the answers that they needed…the answering service didn’t ask the appropriate questions. It was just easier to call the patients than to convey a message via page to our surgeons, who ended up sitting on the line waiting sometimes as long as 10 or 15 minutes before the answering service could convey the specific message.”
On Call Central is a web-based call management system that tracks, records, and routes patient calls. The new system provided Alaska Women’s Health, PC with a secure, HIPAA-compliant, automated answering service that could triage calls better than their existing live answering service. According to Cindy, On Call Central reduced the number of non-urgent calls by 75%. Cindy candidly reports that what “impresses the physicians the most about On Call Central is that they don’t get all of those ridiculous phone calls that they used to get.”
While reduced overnight call burden is what most impressed the physicians and staff at Alaska Women’s Health, PC, users at the practice cite a number of On Call Central’s features that surpassed their expectations.
- Flexibility. On Call Central allows users to create a customized phone tree that “triages” a call before a message is recorded. The team at On Call Central implemented a unique strategy to minimize the number of after-hours calls to Alaska Women’s Health routed to the on call clinicians.
- Easier documentation. While the professionals at Alaska Women’s Health always kept records of patient interactions, On Call Central made that record-keeping easier. Ms. Alkire highlights, “the difference is that it was up to the providers to document and now we don’t have to worry about that because we can get those reports from On Call Central. It has taken a burden off of them.” On Call Central automatically records and stores caller’s messages and tracks the response to those calls, providing an entry for the patient’s health record and justification for billing purposes.
- Efficiency. Ms. Alkire discusses the features that her practice has come to appreciate after using On Call Central, “decreased phone calls, more clarity in what was going on, the rapidness of getting responses and getting things sent to the doctors so that they could deal with it. All of those were the main reasons that we were impressed.”
- Superior customer service. Cindy Alkire appreciates the attentiveness and response times from On Call Central, “anytime that we have needed to change anything, we have easily been able to call you and get that done. You are all on the spot “