Huntingdon Road Surgery based in central Cambridge is a long established Doctor’s surgery.
The surgery operates out of two premises approximately 2 miles apart and has 16,000 patients registered to it. The surgery was awarded ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC in 2016.
One area of concern was how to provide a better experience for patients calling in for an appointment.
For a number of years incoming calls for both surgeries were answered at Huntingdon Road thus allowing a single point of contact for patients. However, the Samsung telephone system operating on just 6 analogue lines was proving unable to cope with the high number of calls particularly during the early morning period.
Due to all of the lines being busy this also created a knock on effect of limited lines being available for the surgery staff, thus preventing the normal operation of the surgery during busy periods. The inability of patients to get through at peak times also generated complaints due to frustrated patients having to constantly redial.
The surgery engaged with Eastern Voice & Data to consider the issues and to look for a solution.
One of the main issues that needed attention was how to provide a fairer system for patients calling in for an appointment.
It was decided that the best solution would be to initiate a cloud call queuing system that would enable callers to be queued in sequence to wait for an available operator. It was further identified that providing the caller with information regarding their queue position and expected answer time would enable patients to be fully aware of when they would be answered. This solution also enabled the Surgery to better understand the overall problem as statistics were available to inform senior staff as to the actual number of calls that were being answered.
Importantly it was recognised that in managing the early morning rush by virtue of the call queue the rest of the surgery could operate as normal. Also by queuing callers and allowing reception staff a ‘think’ time of 20 seconds before the next call the stress for both staff and patients was reduced.
This resulted in a better working environment and importantly a fair queuing system for incoming callers.
The solution implemented by Eastern Voice & Data was Gamma Horizon, the UK’s leading Cloud based telephony solution.
The legacy telephone lines were dispensed with and all numbers were moved over to a fully managed data connection. This had the added benefit of increasing the number of lines available also providing direct dial numbers for all staff thus taking away the emphasis for reception staff to answer calls.
High definition Polycom VVX handsets significantly improved the quality of phone calls and staff were able to manage the operation of their handset by accessing the Horizon user portal.
Also important to the surgery was the knowledge that Horizon could be easily expanded and features added. Although it was decided that full call recording was not necessary they were happy knowing this could be easily activated.
The installation was managed over a single day with a smooth transition to the new system.
Importantly the complete installation was implemented within a set budget and has enabled the surgery to fix telephony costs for the foreseeable future.