Streamlining Patient Transfers: Methodist Le Bonheur’s Story

Healthcare Contact Center Times

By: Jessica Levco

NOTE: This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of Healthcare Contact Center Times. It was originally titled “How Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Created a Centralized, Streamlined Transfer Center” and is on page 11 of the issue.

The goal of a hospital’s transfer center is to make sure patients have access to specialized care, whenever they need it. But to make sure it’s a seamless process, the transfer center needs some type of communication platform to make it all happen.

For example, several years ago at Memphis-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH), if a patient needed to get transferred, and agent had three options:

  • Call the ED
  • Call the hospital switchboard
  • Call a doctor’s personal phone number (who may or might not be available)

This was a completely decentralized patient transfer process—and as you could probably tell—it wasn’t an easy way to get patients where they needed to go.

That’s why MLH began using a cloud-based enterprise call center solution as the communication backbone of its Integrated Operations Center (IOC). It’s a way to streamline communication between nurses and doctors by routing calls and text messages between them. Similarly, this new solution allows for text and voice calls, along with some automated notifications that have been integrated within the API.

MLH agents handle between 250 and 300 calls each day. When the call is about a physician transfer, the agents no longer have to look at a call sheet. With the software, they’re able to type in the name of the service that’s needed and hit send. Then, the platform automatically connects the agent with that department.

Crile Crisler, Senior Director Integrated Operations Center/Telehealth at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, says the software has made it possible for the healthcare system to centralize its transfer center across the entire Memphis Methodist market.

“When someone calls today, we can look at what the capacity is across the whole system,” Crisler says. “For example, when they call—they might think they want Methodist University Hospital, but we can tell them we have more capacity in Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital.”

A Few Other Big Wins:

  • “Reservation request to complete” time, which measures the time from when a patient transfer request has been accepted until the patient is placed in a clean bed, decreased by 40 minutes
  • Bed-to-completion times have dropped by 57 percent
  • Time from discharge order to patient discharge and time to bring beds back online have also seen notable reductions

Ben Moore, Chief Product Officer at PerfectServe, isn’t surprised by the early results that his client has seen. That’s because he’s seen first-hand how transfer center switchboard are legacy software-based and not able to keep up with today’s busy transfer environment.

“Legacy software-based switchboards are causing communication breakdowns, leading to a loss of revenue, and implications for patient safety,” Moore says.

Crisler has seen first-hand how much of an impact the software has made in the transfer center.

“Transfer centers are kind of a novel thing,” Crisler says. “I think health systems like ours are starting to see the benefit and value.”

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