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Brook Lane Surgery

Brook Lane Surgery queues patient calls with a management tool that is provided by their new VoIP telephony system.


Brook Lane Surgery is a six-GP medical practice in Southampton.


The Surgery was an existing swcomms customer after we deployed an Alcatel-Lucent telephone system for them in 2003. After 14 years, the Surgery was keen to upgrade to a newer solution that would improve their patient service. A survey had revealed patient dissatisfaction with the way calls were being handled, especially at the busiest times of the day when people are calling in to book appointments, and the Surgery had identified call queuing as a way of alleviating this issue. 


swcomms met with the practice manager to discuss the most cost-effective way of answering their requirements and consequently suggested and deployed the following solution:


Telephone system upgrade
We upgraded the Surgery to a modern Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise OmniPCX Office solution. Although we were continuing to support and maintain the Surgery’s old system, it was on a best endeavours basis as it had become obsolete many years ago and no longer benefited from manufacturer support. The Office solution has all the other features required by a busy GP surgery. However, the Surgery could continue to use their existing handsets to keep their costs to a minimum. 


Switch to SIP
We switched their ISDN lines to SIP channels. Not only do they represent the future of voice connectivity, with ISDN being phased out in 2025, but are a cost-effective solution that uses the internet as part of the call process to reduce line rental and call costs. SIP also offers easy disaster recovery and business continuity options whereby if a fault prevents patients from being able to call the usual number, these calls will automatically be re-routed to a mobile or another landline.


Call manager
The switch to SIP meant we could use Gamma’s SIP Trunks Call Manager to queue calls to the Surgery. This informed anyone in the queue of their place and how long they might have to wait for the call to be answered.  The Call Manager can queue up to 50 calls at one time, which means all calls to the Surgery will be answered. If a patient does not want to wait, they are given the option to leave a voicemail message. The Surgery can also broadcast messages to patients in the queue about extra services they could benefit from, such as flu jab or asthmas clinics, or dissuasion announcements to encourage non-urgent callers to phone back at a more appropriate time, e.g. after lunch for test results.


These messages can also be played before the patient reaches the automated attendant and queuing process. Other benefits of this inbound call management tool include day and time of day call routing, diverts for every direct dial-in (DDI) number, hunt groups, voicemail-to-email and full reporting on incoming call traffic.


The Surgery now has a modern telephony solution that ensures they can provide the service their patients need. This means our relationship with the Surgery has extended into a 15th year and beyond. The Surgery benefits from our continued care and enjoys the comfort of working with a familiar provider.


Ms Hill added: “Our patients were getting increasingly frustrated with our telephone system. Patient survey comments demonstrated to us the appetite among our patients for a new system which had the capability for call queueing and informing our patients not only where they are in the queue but also giving them valuable healthcare information while they queue.


“We had several quotes for a new system but were very happy to stay with swcomms. They have been our telephony provider since 2003 when we had a large extension to the surgery. Other companies quoted for what we thought we needed but swcomms showed us what we actually needed.”


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