Tower Family Healthcare comprises 4 GP practices, serving over 50,000 patients in the Bury area, that have merged to create one of the largest GP surgeries in the UK. With 30+ GPs, nursing, a pharmacist team, administration, and being led by a corporate partnership structure Tower Family Healthcare are able to provide primary care at scale enabling them to serve 25% of Bury's population.
Tower Family Healthcare's legacy system was failing both staff and patients with limited capacity and a lack of scalability. Mark Aspin, IT Administration, points out that "we had very primitive systems and we didn't have many lines. Every site had the issue of engaged tones at busy times, such as first thing in the morning, between eight and nine. It's all right getting all the calls into a queue, but we could never call out because we had a limited number of lines, which was a pain."
The site merger added to the issues given that: "there was no connectivity between sites, so we had four systems. Four individual telephone systems, and there was no link and no unity at all. Also we've been amalgamating all the patient databases, so sourcing one phone system was part of unifying the comms.
"We required self administration, which was obviously something we didn't have before, because we couldn't really jump into the system and manipulate call routing. We couldn't make any changes without going down a support route, which was important to us because when we all came together under one service we wanted to take what we already had, duplicate it with regards to call routing etc., and then slowly, once everyone's used to a new system, make changes."
Surgery Connect has provided the unified, scalable healthcare focussed communications Tower Family Healthcare needed to fully benefit from the practice merger. Creating a sense of organisational unity that had been absent: "Now that we can internally dial each other, we all feel a lot closer, like everyone's working together as the same team. It feels like we're all sat under one roof, so to speak."
The capacity issues are no longer an issue, with Mark observing that having "infinite lines was a godsend. It was brilliant. There's no more engaged tones, that's a thing of the past."
Having a cloud based system also provides better continuity of service as "our previous systems were physical systems on site; if they go down that's it, you've got to wait for somebody to go in and fix it."
Mark has found the system easy to use: "It's painting by numbers. It's easy. It's self-explanatory. It's a very intuitive system. I have a telecoms background, but I have started to introduce a couple of people to the system, showing them how to set up new users for example. I don't expect branch managers to know how to jump in and start creating call groups and call flows, I think they have enough to do, and this is what I do anyway.
"If I'm away I've said 'Just call X-on support, because they'll be able to make any changes you want, and they're very quick about it.' "
Tower Family Healthcare are also enjoying cost savings: "We had four systems that we were paying all this support money for. The fact that we're contacting each other internally and all the calls route across the Internet, plus we're not making external calls, you can't really put a monetary figure on that, but that's more than worth its weight in gold. Surgery Connect wasn't the cheapest, but it wasn't the dearest neither, and it gave us everything we wanted: reporting, self-service portal, infinite lines, call recording, general ease of use, good support, and cloud resilience; it just ticked more boxes than everybody else."
Surgery Connect includes a huge array of features to improve the call experience for staff and patients alike, all easily configurable using the consoles: "We can self-service via the web platform, that's brilliant. The fact that you've got a system that you can change at a moment's notice, and it's all live, you're not having to wait for anything. I love the prompts, where you can actually type in the words that you want for greeting messages, just off the cuff. The text-to-speech is fantastic, and the voices are so good as well, they don't sound like a robot; you can be forgiven for thinking that it's a real person.
"The prompts also keep patients informed, they're not just holding on the line, waiting for something to happen. They're kept informed of what's going on in the surgery, I think this is really important.
"The softphone is a particularly useful feature, which meant we could have more people homeworking to help with social distancing on-site."
Tower Family Healthcare Says
"Surgery Connect allowed us to finally unify our comms across 4 sites during the pandemic.
"X-on have been very supportive, and communication during our transition has been very good, especially when attempting to get the relevant voice data connectivity installed at each site.
"Training and support has been excellent.
"Overall, the system is extremely flexible giving you the power to build and shape the call environment to suit your own needs.
"It's a great system and I think we should all be on it."
Tower Family Healthcare
For further information on Surgery Connect please call Sales on 0333 332 0000.