Marie Curie Cancer Care Transformed its Nursing Referral Center

By Clare Dorrian

Marie Curie Cancer Care is a UK charity, which provides end of life care for people with terminal illnesses. The organization is best known for its network of 2,700 nurses and healthcare professionals caring for terminally ill patients in their own homes or in one if its nine hospices across the United Kingdom. Last year, Marie Curie cared for 31,000 patients, with each patient referral requiring an average of 25 minutes to complete.

Management knew that it needed to overhaul this referral system to keep pace with the current demand and meet the anticipated growth for services. The revised system needed to reduce the time and effort that it took employees to match each patient with a nurse who had available time, as well as geographical proximity, and the necessary skills for that patient’s needs. In addition, the upgrade to its contact center, called Patient Connect, should:

  • Be able to support the amount of care provided, with the planned increase in services, while maintaining costs at current levels.
  • Provide increased and better information to the Patient Connect staff, nurses, and patients in a very timely fashion.
  • Improve the Marie Curie Patient Connect system’s rate of employee satisfaction by driving significant efficiency and productivity gains.

After reviewing a number of systems, Marie Curie selected a vendor who worked closely with their business and IT teams in the design and rollout of the re-vamped business processes and system. The benefits were quickly noticeable.

In the first six months after the new system was operational, Marie Curie was able to decrease the time it took to get patients matched with nursing staff to improve patient service levels by 20 percent. In addition, the training time for new coordinators in the new system decreased by 80 percent, from five weeks to five days. Also, the system allowed faster response times, which combined with the improved efficiencies in the call handling and call response times, resulted in a more powerful communication vehicle that can handle one-third more first-time call requests.

The most important and influential change in the Patient Connect system is the increased efficiencies in getting nurses and patients connected. The average referral and nurse assignment procedures have decreased 75 percent, from an average of 25 minutes to six minutes. As a result, Patient Connect now functions as a key communication hub for Marie Curie, allowing for quick, streamlined communications and logistics coordination among the center, the staff, and the patients.

“The founders of Marie Curie pioneered hospice and home-based nursing care in the UK way back in 1948,” said Susan Munroe, director of nursing and patient services for Marie Curie Cancer Care. “We were able to take that vision to a whole new level, providing our staff, nurses, and patients with a level of customer care efficiency that truly affects lives. Within the UK, research shows 65 percent of people would choose to die at home. While we now care for 50 percent of all cancer patients that die at home, we are constantly striving to increase that number across terminal cancer and other illnesses. And these system led efficiencies are a significant enabler towards achieving this strategic objective.”

Clare is EMEA marketing champion for Sword Ciboodle and responsible for marketing strategy, marketing programs, and client engagement in UK and Europe, as well as Global Industry Analyst Relations. Clare joined Sword Ciboodle in 2005, bringing a wealth of experience in the contact center sector through her previous positions at Intelligent Finance, Halifax Bank of Scotland, and AMAZE Consulting.

[From the April/May 2012 issue of AnswerStat magazine]