How Houston Methodist Used AI Phone Automation to Manage Vaccine-Related Call Volume
// By Althea Fung //
If you’ve called any business in the past 18 months, you’ve probably heard a cheerful robotic voice apologizing for the hold every 30-60 seconds due to “unusually high call volume.” In some industries, call volume to call centers jumped over 600 percent from normal levels, while agent call capacity dropped by 20 percent, according to Pindrop, a voice security company.
Houston Methodist, which uses its call center to field calls for its eight hospitals, physicians’ offices, labs, and other clinical departments, saw an influx of calls throughout the pandemic.
“We receive millions of calls across Houston Methodist,” says Murat Uralkan, director of innovation at the Houston Methodist Center for Innovation. “Basically, every phone number on our website or accessed through web search will come back to a call center.”
He continues: “Before the vaccine was available, we were receiving a lot of inquiries from our patients and the public about when the vaccine would be available to them. In November 2020, our team predicted that call volume would increase significantly — upwards of 300-400 percent.”
Recognizing the hospital system would need a solution to handle the deluge of phone calls from the community, Uralkan’s team reached out to Syllable, an artificial intelligence and digital technology company.