Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Intellicare combines call center software, services

Published in Interface Tech News

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine ‹ Expanding its offerings to health care organizations, call-center specialist Intellicare is now offering a unified messaging service combining telephone, fax, e-mail, Internet chat, and voicemail in a single desk workstation.

The system, which the company calls a "blended media contact center" and sells under the product name Intelliview, can route incoming traffic to several destinations, based on several criteria. For example, a Spanish-language e-mail message would be routed to a Spanish-reading assistant, or a fax from a patient inquiring about cardiac care would go to a representative with special knowledge about cardiac issues.

It offers a solution to a problem hospitals, insurance companies, and large medical practices are having: How to prepare for providing Internet customer service at a time when most people still use the phone?

One criterion is real-time handling, according to Victor Otley, chairman, CEO, and president of Intellicare. "Live agent interaction is extremely important," Otley sai d.

But phone traffic is by far the most common means of seeking customer service, Otley said, and he doesn't see that changing quickly.

"We believe that (migration to e-mail and Internet chat service) will happen over a period of years, not months," he said.

Intellicare itself operates call centers, and can augment a client's own customer service or do it entirely, on an outsourced basis, while remaining in compliance with federal privacy laws governing medical records.

The privately held and venture-funded company has 75 full-time equivalents spread across between 100 and 200 people, Otley said.

The firm grew 45 percent last year and is expected to grow 80 percent this year, as the company steps up marketing and sales efforts to get the product out the door.

One buyer has already bitten and been pleased. Kara Goodnight, the call-center supervisor at Texas Health Resources in Arlington, Tex., said her company, which operates 13 hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and handles 200,000 customer calls per year, conducted a massive research effort before deciding to go with Intellicare's combination of software and outsourced service.

"We felt that their software was the best product to meet our needs," Goodnight said.

In addition to the advantage of sharing a support platform between Texas Health Resources' call center and Intellicare, which will handle some calls, she said that a particular hurdle was privacy.

"We were very concerned about having our data reside on somebody else's server," Goodnight said. But Intellicare was able to assuage that concern. "We feel very comfortable that they're housing our very important data," she said.