Presbyterian Hospital's call center expedites requests for help from patients.
Presbyterian Hospital, Albuquerque, N.M., has solved a nagging challenge experienced by many hospitals: improve the response time to patients' calls for assistance without overburdening nurses.

Lauren Cates, chief operating officer, central delivery system operations, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, says taking two basic actions not only has shortened response time drastically and improved patient satisfaction, but also has relieved nurses of tasks that reduce their efficiency.

Instead of pressing a call button on their bedside remote control to notify the nursing unit about a request for help, patients use the same call function to contact a centralized call center open 24 hours a day. Within 10 seconds, call-center staff use the intercom in the same remote to greet patients and ask how they can be assisted.

After picking up the call, the call-center staff will send a text message to the patient's assigned nurse about the exact request for help whether it be about pain relief or other clinical-related issue. The call center will contact the patient's assigned nurse's tech­nician to handle such tasks as adjusting a pillow, getting a cup of ice or taking a patient to the bathroom, Cates says.

Instead of taking up to four minutes or more for a staff member to find out what the patient needs under the old system, it now takes seconds to determine the need and then less than a minute to take care of the request for help, she says.

Consequently, patient complaints about lack of communication have dropped 92 percent and Presbyterian has risen to the upper quartile from the 40th percentile in call-response promptness in Press Ganey patient satisfaction surveys, Cates says.

"The feedback we get from patients about the system is, 'I know you've heard me.' That comfort goes far. They feel much more connected to the staff," she says.

Presbyterian Healthcare Services will have the same call center serve two additional hospitals in its system.