Winter 2006

Call Center Improves Communication With Parents

Three years ago, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital began organizing a centralized call center that could efficiently and quickly put parents of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital patients in touch with whomever they needed to talk to. The best thing about the new system is that parents don't notice a thing.

"The parents are still calling the numbers of the individual departments, but we are funneling everything through the call center," says Scott Soifer, M.D., medical director of pediatric outpatient services at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. "To the parents, the process is seamless — everything is done on the back end."

When a child falls ill, parents feel the weight of the myriad tasks that fall on their shoulders. Children sick enough to be referred to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital often have complex disorders that require coordination among many specialists, therapists, pharmacists and others. Parents need to be able to connect with physicians to get answers to quick questions, schedule appointments, leave a message or have an email sent to their child's physician.

Funneling calls through a single call center puts parents in touch with someone who has been specifically trained to handle requests for UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital services. Parents don't get shuffled around among staff who may or may not know how to help or whom to direct the caller to. A standardized record of all calls also provides a paper trail of calls and requests, even when those requests are being directed to different departments in the hospital.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital staff have been phasing in call center coverage. They currently take calls for primary care pediatrics, pediatric endocrinology, pulmonary medicine and, as well as the Teen Clinic. They are about to add coverage for rheumatology and immunology, and in the future plan to add coverage for pediatric cardiology and gastroenterology.

The fact that parents never know the extent of the organization behind the call center doesn't mean that they don't appreciate it. "The wait time on calls is way down, as is the abandonment rate" by callers who do have to wait to during peak periods, Soifer says. UCSF pediatricians also appreciate being able to rely on the fact that messages from parents who call in do get to them consistently. "The call center has really improved our communications with parents."

For more information, contact Dr. Soifer at (415) 476-5153.

Related Information

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