New JEFF NOW® Software Meets Complex Needs of A Multi-Hospital Physican
As the starting point for patients to access doctors and services,
Jefferson's physician referral center typically receives a tremendous volume
of calls. Hence, this department demands a computer system that performs
multiple functions, is easy to use and makes all sorts of information accessible
at the push of a button. Now, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's physician
referral service, JEFF NOW®, can offer assurance that their customers
receive the fullest service, thanks to new computer software developed by
the department of information systems (DIS).
"Like most of the products on the market, the old computer software
had several shortcomings," explains Chris McNamee-Smith, RN, JEFF NOW®
associate coordinator. "It was a generic program intended for a one-hospital
physician referral line. We couldn't make modifications or enhancements
to the software to accommodate our needs as quickly as we'd like, and its
integration and information retrieval capabilities were severely limited."
So JEFF NOW® turned to the University's in-house computer experts. With
software manager Rick Ricciardi, at the helm, a team from DIS custom designed
a more advanced software package to fit the unique requirements of JEFF
NOW®. The new software lets JEFF NOW® representatives perform their
main job functions ­p; making a physician referral and appointment, registering
callers for health screenings or mailing callers health information ­p;
more efficiently, using one computer system and one database.
JEFF NOW® had specific needs, one of them to process referrals for multiple
hospitals, not only Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The custom software is also better able to manage the increasing volume
of calls JEFF NOW® receives. Previously during peak customer call periods,
the system was slow to respond, resulting in representatives spending more
time on each call.
"Our software is more sophisticated and reliable," notes designer
Mr. Ricciardi. "It responds quickly and consistently during heavy call
periods, so there's no wasted time." The new quick-call feature, which
allows JEFF NOW® representatives to automatically fill in certain information
fields on the computer screen beforehand, also improves efficiency.
The DIS-designed software can handle the referral needs of additional hospitals
who join the Jefferson Health System.
Instead of a cumbersome text-based operating system, the new software uses
the trouble-free point and click Windows system. It's also an evolving software
program that can readily incorporate more functions when necessary. For
instance, automatic caller identification can be added, along with features
that will let JEFF NOW® representatives place calls reminding patients
of a health seminar or program they may be interested in attending.
"The new system not only positions JEFF NOW® for future expansion,
but allows for redesign as technology or Jefferson's business needs change,"
says Carmhiel Brown, associate vice president, marketing and public relations.
While these enhancements are certainly a boon to the JEFF NOW® service,
which gets nearly 95,000 calls a year, the new system generates valuable
marketing and referral information to help Jefferson. Last year more than
1,300 inpatients first came to Jefferson through a JEFF NOW® call.
"We can tell how many people called in response to a particular ad
or which area of the Delaware Valley most of our calls come from,"
explains Ms. Brown. "In addition, we monitor reasons why callers make
appointments, such as convenience, available appointment times, location