Optimizing the Transfer and Call Centers – Methodist Le Bonheur + Call Center


In a recent healthcare call center webinar, PerfectServe’s Chief Product Officer Ben Moore had an in-depth discussion with Crile Crisler, Jr., who serves as Director of the Integrated Operations Center and Telehealth at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH). The pair discussed the evolution of MLH’s patient transfer process, including the health system’s experience implementing PerfectServe’s call center solution in its revamped transfer center.

With PerfectServe’s call center solution implemented into MLH’s Integrated Operations Center, MLH saw its reservation to complete time—the time it takes to place an accepted transfer patient into a clean bed—drop by 40%. You can get the full story by reading the Methodist Le Bonheur case study.

The Importance of Efficient Patient Transfers

Patient transfers are important for the continuity of care, as many patients who are transferred are high acuity—their care is often critical and time-sensitive. Poor or mishandled communication in the transfer process can contribute to negative patient outcomes and low provider satisfaction, so delays and distractions must be mitigated as much as possible. Some critical elements are impacted by mismanaged patient transfer processes, including:

  • Patient care delivery 
  • Patient health and treatment outcomes 
  • Patient and family satisfaction with care
  • Provider ability to deliver proper care
  • Provider workflow and satisfaction
  • Financial impacts to the health system

Legacy Operator Consoles Aren’t Up to Par

Though many health systems have call center technology in place, the legacy solutions they use are built with on-premise infrastructure and suffer from the limitations of that design. They can’t be easily updated or supported, and if there’s a power or connection issue, they don’t work. When other clinical systems need to be integrated, these legacy call center systems are often difficult or impossible to connect.

Calling experiences supported by these legacy systems can be somewhat fragmented and unreliable, and their design often leads to delays in care. For example, older call center solutions tend to place an extra manual burden on call operators, who may have to use multiple platforms for communication—maybe one for answering calls and another for referencing the clinical directory. Other examples of workflow difficulties with legacy systems are one-way messaging, manual documentation of calls, and the frequency of phone tag that plays out between providers and health systems. All of these factors can lead to an increase in time required to execute a successful patient transfer.

Intelligent Routing: The New Calling Experience

When messages are routed to the right place at the right time, call center operators can facilitate an entirely new—and much more functional—calling experience. To make this happen, the PerfectServe platform seamlessly brings together data critical to accelerating call center operations—from scheduling to the EHR to the clinical directory—and gives agents access to a powerful clinical communication system. With PerfectServe’s Dynamic Intelligent Routing® (DIR) technology underpinning all workflows, messages and calls are routed based on their purpose, the time and date they’re sent, and their destination.

The process works dynamically with the current schedule and predetermined provider preferences, allowing all parties to experience clear, consistent, and accurate communication. PerfectServe’s modern call center technology aids the calling experience by: 

  • Giving operators a single solution to facilitate the transfer process
  • Mitigating the manual communication burden for operators
  • Giving operators a secure texting and calling platform that easily connects them to anyone they need to speak with 

The result? Coordination of transfers can be completed in a fraction of the time required by agents using legacy call center solutions, leading to more efficient processes, better patient outcomes, and happier providers.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s Transfer Center Experience

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) is a multi-hospital health system in Memphis, Tennessee that includes six hospitals and over 100 non-acute facilities. A health system of this size usually offers a wide variety of services and  is a frequent destination for patient transfers, and in MLH’s case, they also commit to serving patients regardless of their ability to pay. This means having an efficient transfer process is essential to connecting patients with the care they need—and preventing them from going somewhere else for care.

With all of this in mind, MLH launched the Integrated Operations Center (IOC) in 2020 to improve patient flow, reduce patient wait times and leakage, and create a one-call experience for any organization looking to access MLH physicians and services. Before the IOC existed, the patient transfer experience was much more decentralized—there was no single phone number or point of contact for people to use if they needed to request a transfer. Oftentimes, people would reach out to the last MLH staff member who helped them coordinate a transfer successfully, even if that individual was off work or just not the right person to call. This decentralized approach led to communication issues, confusion when patients arrived, and frustration for providers, patients, and staff.

Improving the Patient Transfer Process

The IOC is now the hub of all transfer requests and patient transportation needs, meaning communication processes that interrupt the flow and efficiency of these requests can be problematic. To have a more robust, automated call center process, MLH made PerfectServe’s cloud-based call center solution the communication backbone of the IOC to aid the transfer process. With an express goal to create a one-call experience, providing IOC agents a more capable platform for coordinating care was key.

Because transfer requests can come from another hospital, a surgery center or specialty practice, a rehab facility, an urgent care facility, or any number of other locations, the IOC needs to be prepared to handle each call type accordingly. With PerfectServe’s call center technology in place at the IOC, MLH now has one contact point for initiating patient transfers, and agents can support multiple call queues and leverage call schedules and patient directories to instantly access any resources necessary to action incoming requests.

With the new process, anyone looking to initiate a transfer calls the IOC, goes through a self-select menu to categorize their call, and then gets connected to the agent best equipped to handle it. The IOC leverages PerfectServe’s assignable role function, which allows operators to select which groups they’ll be covering for the day. With this categorization in place, an EMS provider, for example, can quickly connect with the patient floor that will be receiving the transfer patient, or an outside hospital nurse can be connected to a bedside nurse at MLH to provide a patient report.

Results of an Improved Transfer Process

By powering IOC communication with PerfectServe’s call center solution, MLH has seen a number of improvements. The IOC now categorizes inbound calls into queues that are aligned with capable operators. The calls are placed in queues according to their specific request, site, speciality, and other details. Operators are able to manage more than one queue per shift, and a dynamic wall board allows supervisors to constantly monitor queues and hold times. Operators can be shifted from queue to queue as demand requires. Other data, such as call volume at certain times of the day, can be analyzed to give the IOC better insight into proper staffing levels. These analytics allow MLH to continuously evaluate ways to improve its transfer process.

With PerfectServe’s call center solution implemented at the IOC, MLH saw its reservation to complete time—the time it takes to place an accepted transfer patient into a clean bed—drop by 40%. The largest hospital within the system has also been able to drop its average discharge to depart times to an optimal two-hour time frame. Among other positive outcomes, MLH has also seen an improvement in the time it takes to bring beds back online, and staff and providers have noted significant improvements in communication workflows throughout the patient transfer process.

How Does Intelligent Routing Benefit the Call Center?

At PerfectServe, it’s our business to help healthcare organizations communicate and coordinate care more effectively. Many elements contribute, but it’s really about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. That focus is exactly why Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare partnered with PerfectServe to make their Integrated Operations Center a hub of efficient communication.

We’re confident we can replicate this success at your organization. To learn more about our cloud-based call center solution or to schedule a demo, contact us today.

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