The number of calls city governments, healthcare providers, and crisis services are fielding is going through the roof. As a result, organizations are moving to new cloud-based systems built for scale, automation, and work from home environments.
“It is an unprecedented time in healthcare as we face caring for increasing numbers of patients affected by the virus with limited capacity. Our vital healthcare resources are constrained in ways never seen before,” said Lisa Romano, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at CipherHealth, a patient communication platform,.
To manage this increased demand, organizations are conserving limited staff resources for the most difficult cases by offering self-service options for patients and constituents to get answers to common questions.
For questions that can’t be answered with automation, organizations are building systems to route the most urgent and unique cases to doctors, counselors, and trained city staff, ensuring callers are responded to quickly. Many are adopting video conferencing to escalate these difficult cases.
Organizations like CipherHealth are deploying chatbots and intelligent voice response systems to help answer common inquiries and identify symptoms before a provider joins a call.
United Way also built an intelligent voice response system into its 211 hotline, the easy to remember number that helps people identify and access social services they are eligible for. Due to the coronavirus, 211 networks nationwide have been seeing 2-4x call volume, at 75,000 calls per day, and some call durations averaging 20 to 30 minutes, compared to their average 4 to 6.
To scale up their service, the United Way developed a streamlined routing system with interactive voice response (IVR). People can call in to a single 1-800 number or their local 211, where they are testing an artificial intelligence-assisted IVR bot to help answer commonly asked questions about COVID-19 and related services. If the caller still wants to speak to a specialist about their unique situation, they are routed based on their location to a live agent.