Anyone who’s ever called up a large organization knows the pain of waiting for an agent to answer while insincere slogans about valuing you repeat ad infinitum. Calling again doesn’t solve the problem because it’s hard to catch the right time when there are enough agents. If the caller ever reaches the agent, they take out on the agents all the pent up anger from the waiting.

What you don’t want is for this to be the experience in your hospital or health organization’s call center. But even call center directors with the best intentions will find wait times a challenging problem to solve. Hiring more agents to match peak level demand would leave them idle during non-peak times and become an unsustainable option in the long run due to high labor costs.

This was the dilemma of one hospital we worked with. They wanted to figure out how to reduce annoying wait times to improve patient acquisition and satisfaction. We solved this issue by helping them shift their inbound demand to outbound callbacks, which helped them smooth out spikes in call volume, reduce average hold times, and make an additional 50,000 calls in a year—without having to hire more agents.

Automated callback scheduling

But it wasn’t enough to just tell agents to line things up as a callback task. They were, in fact, already doing that, but mostly using ad hoc tools and sticky notes and their own initiative. This resulted in long wait times in between callbacks, plenty of idle time, and even failures to call back.

As part of our solution, we employed a callback system that captured contact details, automatically allocated agents, and handled the calls and retries.

ASAP vs Scheduled callbacks

When talking about callbacks, the most common type is an as-soon-as-possible callback typically made 30 to 60 minutes after the call request. However, this doesn’t really solve the peak period problem since it’s still within the same window. Moreover, the unpredictability of the callback time could increase patients’ frustration with the whole process.

That’s why we worked with the hospital’s call center to support scheduled callbacks. By moving callbacks to another time of the caller’s choosing, they smoothed out demand and lowered telco costs by reducing their average handle times while creating better experiences for their potential and existing patients.

Omnichannel callbacks

In addition to callbacks triggered by an inbound call, we also helped the hospital transform their inbound calls by offering ways to request callbacks through online forms, like those that are part of the hospital’s provider directory.

Patient-centric productivity

Talk a stroll around the corridors of any call center and you’ll see agents struggling with a multitude of tabs as they wrestle with their telephony solution, patient management system, and scheduling tools. That’s because most call centers aren’t specifically designed for patient relationship management, resulting in inefficiency and inaccuracy. 

As part of the system we deployed for the hospital, we provided integration between the telephony solution and patient data so that they can immediately see the patient’s recent actions, make recommendations as part of ongoing marketing campaigns, and any outstanding issues. For example, if John’s daughter missed her appointment, the agent immediately knows about it during the call with John so that she can offer to reschedule even if John had his own appointment in mind. John is delighted, appointments are up, and the call is shorter.


Giving a good call experience to patients doesn’t have to mean driving up labor costs. An automated callback system with an integrated patient relationship management solution can help your call center boost patient acquisition, retain patients, and reduce telco costs—without hiring more agents.

We are pleased to hear that Navicent’s Omer Awan has been named 2019 CHIME Innovator of the Year by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The award was presented last November 4 at the CHIME Fall CIO Forum in Phoenix.

As senior vice president and chief information and digital officer at Navicent Health, Awan was awarded for leading the organization’s innovative use of IT to break down care coordination barriers, improving patient experience and quality while saving millions of dollars.

Our team at acombina worked with Awan and his team to develop OrCarestra, a care coordination system built on top of our Outstanding Patient Experience (OPX) platform. The platform enabled the team to streamline delivery of care by seamlessly integrating new capabilities into their existing systems. While the system is comprehensive and touches nearly every aspect of their operations, some of the functionalities that were noted for the award were:

  • A scheduling portal that replaces faxes and phone calls to facilitate scheduling procedures at a hospital and eliminate schedule conflicts;
  • A convenient mobile and kiosk patient check-in module that removes the hassle of filling out paper forms and cuts down waiting times;
  • A patient management tool that makes it easy to to see the entirety of patient case activity in a single page and speeds up case workflows;
  • A physician directory with customizable biographies, photos and search terms to make it faster and easier for patients to find providers who match their needs

It has been a pleasure to work together with Awan and his team these past few years to achieve Navicent Health’s transformation goals. “Innovation is never about one person; it is a team sport and I am fortunate to have such fantastic teammates,” Awan said as he accepted the award.

As we continue to develop our OPX platform, we look forward to strengthening our collaboration with visionary organizations like Navicent Health to help them harness data to its fullest potential and propel them forward in the journey towards high-quality, cost-efficient care.

About the CHIME Award

The Innovator of the Year Award is given annually to a member of CHIME whose creative application of technology has demonstrated value to their healthcare organization with an innovative solution that can be shared widely with the CHIME membership.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs) and other senior healthcare IT leaders.

About OPX and acombina

OPX is acombina’s platform that enables interconnected systems for healthcare organizations so that they can easily capture data, use that same data across the organization’s many subsystems, and collate all that data for management and analysis. It is comprised of three subsystems, which include:

  • Care Resource Planning (CRP) solution, which helps organizations match patient demands against supplied resources to improve utilization and capacity planning, streamline care, and provide actionable insights
  • Referral Chain Management (RCM), which lets organizations streamline communication among all providers involved in each patient’s care as the patient makes their way across the patient journey
  • Patient Relationship Management (PRM), which aids organizations to develop deep and long-term relationships with patients in line with the system-wide shift to a value-based model of healthcare

Acombina is healthcare IT provider that makes integrated cloud-based solutions for enterprise analytics, patient engagement, care transitions, and population health management.