Thursday, November 12, 2009

Voice-over-IP Helps Pediatrics Clinic Manage High-demand for H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Vaccines

One of Cavu Networks' clients is a pediatric clinic which has been working very hard to distribute seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines to their patients in a fair and timely manner.

Last year, when there were no H1N1 issues, they were successful in having "drop-in flu clinics" using a first-come-first-served model. This year has been very different.

The problems this year are multiple: they have very little notice when they will be receiving vaccines from the state (H1N1 or seasonal), they don't know what form it's in (nasal mist or injection), they don't know how many doses they are going to receive and the demand for the vaccine has been very high.

A little more than a week ago they held a drop-in, first-come-first-served flu clinic and the turnout was overwhelming: 300 patients with 400 shots given in 3 hours with long lines of 1-2 hours leading to total staff and MD exhaustion. The line of people literally went out the door and around the building forcing families with young children to wait outside, though luckily, the weather was mild and dry. It was obvious that it was not a sustainable model.

Trying to pre-schedule patients for future flu clinics became the objective. There wasn't enough time to implement a self-scheduling website, but there was time to develop a telephone based scheduling system.

Their existing telephone lines were already clogged by people calling the main numbers to ask if there was flu vaccine available and when the next clinic would be. We decided to use a SIP trunk to provision a new telephone number. Using the VoIP capabilities of their Talkswitch small-business phone system to handle the new number was simple. Viola! A "Flu Hot Line" was created.

The flu hot line number was published on their website and added to the opening message of the main numbers. When the next batch of vaccines arrived they used the capabilities of the Talkswitch to direct the incoming flu hot line callers to a staff member who scheduled the caller. This kept the main telephone numbers clear of flu vaccine and flu clinic related calls.

After a flu clinic is scheduled the doctors are able to review each patient's electronic chart and flag if the patient will be receiving the seasonal flu, the H1N1, or both vaccines. The result: minimal waiting for families; prepared doctors and staff; and an efficient, smooth and calm 3 hour flu clinic. Success!

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