Interacting with patients digitally
Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust interacts with patients digitally and finds staff have more time to help people who prefer to talk on the phone.
- Migration to a cloud-based contact centre
- Easy for staff to use
- Supports remote workers
- Using AI to make efficiencies
A digital future
In Rotherham, the hospital and community services all work together to provide integrated care to the local people. And digital technology is making a big difference. There are over 70 sites in all: hospital, community sites, clinics, GP surgeries and a hospice. All of them are busy, and all are supported by the central IT service.
The hospital is managed by the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust. When their Netcall SEMAP+ system reached capacity, the Trust’s Director of Health Informatics, James Rawlinson, wanting to use their IT resources in the best possible way, made the shrewd decision to migrate to a cloud-based contact centre – delivering on the Trust’s cloud-first strategy.
Moving ahead to the cloud
SEMAP+ had served Rotherham faithfully for ten years. The Trust had enjoyed solid support from Netcall and liked the direction their products were taking, so they moved to Liberty Converse.
It would be hosted off-site away from the Trust’s other IT infrastructure. This approach would provide 24/7 working – which is essential for the Trust – and it would ensure resilience.
Moving the contact centre away from the hospital’s network also ensured that any issues with the internal network could never impact on patient communications. The change is now complete, and it went according to plan. Liberty Converse has a new up-to-date user interface, so it was easy for staff to use.
Netcall’s support made the migration very simple, and we overcame any technical hurdles without difficulty.
The move to the new system was not a massive change. People simply arrived in the morning and started using the new software on the contact portal.
James Rawlinson, Director of Health Informatics, Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust
COVID-19 and the rush to work from home
No one could have predicted the events of 2020. When COVID-19 arrived, the Trust soon arranged remote working and many employees began working from home.
Being cloud-based, the system supported the remote workers overnight and everyone carried on as usual in the new socially-distanced situation.
Liberty manages the calls in the remote working environment and the Trust’s management team can see what is happening in real time. The Trust has tweaked the system’s screen pops to give the agents more information and help them manage the pressure of incoming calls.
Implementing social distancing would have been very difficult for us if we hadn’t got Liberty Converse.
Fortunately, we had the new system in place before Coronavirus hit us. It also meant that our staff could ‘shield’ where they needed to.
The new screen pops are reducing the length of our calls and helping our team to get to each caller faster.
Liberty provides tools to export data for reports and analysis and the Trust is already using these in quite a remarkable way.
They are exploring combining artificial intelligence (AI) and text-to-speech software and using these to analyse keywords within the support calls so that they can understand why people are calling.
Many people are looking for ways to use AI, and Rotherham is one of the first NHS Trust to see the potential it offers for a contact centre and how they can use it to support their employees better. Rotherham will be talking about this pioneering work with other NHS trusts in the Netcall Community.
We could see for example, that we had 23 calls relating to passwords. We’ve been able to use this insight to make the volume of out-of-hours support calls much smaller.
Hear it for yourself
Digital engagement – it’s here
The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust is part of the national Digital Aspirant programme. One important goal of this programme is to increase the Hospital’s digital interaction with patients. This links to Rotherham’s next project with Netcall – the deployment of a Patient Hub. The Trust had wanted to be able to send patients’ letters digitally for some time, and Netcall is finally giving them a way to do this.
The Trust can interface the Netcall system to Synertec to create patient letters in a digital format and they should be able to reduce the number of printed letters by 50-75%. As well as making a huge saving in resources, this provides a seamless, digital experience for the patients. The hospital sends appointment reminders by text message and Liberty’s multimedia contact handling allows the patients to reply by the channel they prefer.
However, there will always be some patients who cannot – or do not want to – use digital communications. The Trust has found that the new system is freeing up staff to talk with these people and provide a better, more personal service to help them.
There are other benefits too. We can do more with the data to give our callers a better experience. For example, when a patient calls us, we can transfer their calls along with their digital appointment information. This is safer and makes us more efficient.
A Community to count on
The Netcall Community often support each other through new projects. For the implementation at Rotherham, the Trust partnered with Sheffield Children’s Hospital which installed Patient Hub early on. They proved to be an excellent partner.
Going forward, six or seven other services in Rotherham would like to have their own contact solution too. The cloud-based solution gives us the flexibility to grow and ramp up to support all these groups as well.