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Case Study: IVR Helps Employee Tracking & Safety for Algoma Health Unit


For over 30 years, the Algoma Health Unit (AHU) has provided public health services to citizens of the Algoma district. With offices in Blind River, Elliot Lake, Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, AHU has a large geographical area in which to provide service coverage. Case managers, public health nurses, family support workers, health practitioners and public health inspectors work in these areas servicing a very broad constituency. Like many health organizations across North America, AHU was facing the need to continuously communicate with staff in the district, and have the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to any situation where there could be a potential public health or staff safety risk.

Addressing The Problem:

To address the problem, AHU embarked on a process of redesigning their communication and response processes and policies. This initiative resulted in the revision of policies and procedures and the use of automation for employee tracking, communications and response processes.

The new process required an off-hours call center to track and communicate with staff - a manual solution that created operational bottlenecks and increased costs.

After careful review of the manual solution by health unit management, which included consultation with the Health and Safety Committee, resulted in a decision to evaluate a technology solution utilizing IVR.

A team, led by Suzanne Irwin, System/Records Manager, examined multiple employee tracking and response requirements. It was important that a staff tracking system did more than just collect data and document safety issues. Immediate alerts, notifications to management and responses to situations where an out-call professional may be in a precarious position, were a priority.

While it was clear that moving from a manual/people intensive system, to track staff electronically when responding to potential safety situations was crucial, management felt strongly that attention needed to be paid to the work processes surrounding the solutions as well. Input given from working closely with the Health and Safety Committee plus employees, ensured that the solution selection, as well as the timing of implementation, would meet the immediate need to track employees with the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to potential risk situations.

The agency appreciated that with the selected IVR solution there was continuous, open, two-way channel of communication with staff. Information was tracked in real-time, thus eliminating the need for dedicated human resources personnel to manually monitor. All that was required was the standard issue, field employee mobile phone.

The Outcome:

Today, when staff are leaving on a visit request, all they do is pick-up their mobile phone, and in less than 60 seconds they provide key information though a self-service IVR Telephone portal. When they have completed the visit, the practitioner will simply call-in and sign-out, with the option to set the parameters for the next visit. In the event a practitioner forgets to sign-out, the IVR will place an automated reminder call, with the option to postpone the sign-out time. In the event that an employee fails to respond to the reminder call, then the IVR will automatically issue alerts to the field safety coordinators on call.

Program Directors and coordinators can monitor who is in the field and where. Safety officers can review the logs on an historical or real-time basis and assess the effectiveness of safety policies, subsequently making improvements where required, based on objective data.

After the IVR solution was implemented, AHU reduced administrative costs associated with Employee Safety Tracking and Response processes by over 80%.

Our IVR enabled solution allows us to manage by exception, eliminate the need for a dispatcher, and eliminate the need for after-hours call center support by 95% - resulting in significant operational savings. reported AHU. With access to field employee information 24/7 over the web or via telephone, Program Directors and safety coordinators can make decisions in real time.

The IVR solution’s Embedded Audit Trail and management reporting allows AHU to focus on strategy, ensure compliance, and execute their safety policy.

In addition AHU chose a Software-as-Service Model, which provides AHU operations expertise with no overhead. With no need for additional infrastructure, AHU’s IVR implementation and deployment took days not months.