2019 KM Reality Award Winner: GE Healthcare

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The winners of the KM Promise and KM Reality awards were announced on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the KMWorld 2019 Conference in Washington, D.C. The awards are designed to celebrate the success stories of knowledge management.  

KM 2019 promise and reality awards logoThe KM Reality Award recognizes an organization in which knowledge management is a positive reality, not just rhetoric. The award recipient has demonstrated leadership in the implementation of knowledge management practices and processes, realizing measurable business benefits. To be considered for the Reality Award, the knowledge management program must be in place for at least 1 year, receive support from senior management, and have defined metrics to evaluate the initiative and its impact on organizational goals.

At KMWorld 2019, Thomas H. Hogan, Sr., CEO and president of Information Today, Inc. (ITI), presented the KM Reality Award to Burgoyne Hughes, senior manager, Call Center Operations at GE Healthcare, who accepted the award on behalf of the company.

Videos of KMWorld 2019 awards presentations,  keynotes, and sessions can be found here.

2019 KM REALITY AWARD Winner:  GE Healthcare

As a leading global medical technology company, GE Healthcare provides a broad portfolio of products, solutions, and services used in the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of patients. With an installed base of more than 4 million imaging systems and a history of innovation that reaches back more than a century, GE Healthcare is making a difference in the moments that matter most for patients. With three patients imaged every second on GE Healthcare systems, the company helps improve outcomes for healthcare providers around the world. This means increased capacity, improved productivity, and better patient outcomes.

“The implementation of our Lighthouse KMS system was a foundational piece in helping advance the customer experience in the Cares Call Center. The Reality Award is recognition that the time, effort, and energy of so many GE Healthcare employees who worked on this project has made a meaningful difference for our providers and their patients," said Hughes. The Lighthouse KMS system was implemented in partnership with its vendor TTEC.

The Challenge

In a highly regulated environment, the GE Healthcare Cares Call Center services more than 400,000 calls annually, dealing with maintenance and repair requests for equipment tightly monitored by the FDA. In addition to the regulatory burden, the Cares Call Center handles four distinct lines of business and more than 25 modalities of medical equipment, ranging from MRIs to patient monitoring systems. Each line of business and modality of equipment has its own business rules. The Cares Call Center supports many of America’s leading hospital networks, but each service agreement is unique and caters to that client’s environment, leading to additional client-based processes that vary by time of day, modality of equipment, and the type of request.

In this complex environment, any delay in service can have a catastrophic impact on patient care. An error can shut down an emergency room, and, in the case of some critical equipment, such as invasive cardiology and anesthesia, GE Healthcare's efficiency and accuracy can mean the difference between life and death. Because of the nature of the business, the use of accurate, fully documented procedures has always been critical for GE Healthcare.

However, in evaluating opportunities to improve customer experience, it became clear that having defined procedures documented as part of a quality management system, does not necessarily mean that instructions are easily navigable for a customer service representative engaged in an urgent call with a customer. The quest for a better way to organize and retrieve work instruction was the driving force in the implementation of its Lighthouse Knowledge Management System in partnership with TTEC.

The Goals

Executive leadership in GE Healthcare service is keenly focused on improving customer experience. Because the Cares Call Center is the starting point for most service requests, it was seen as a critical link in improving that experience.

There were two primary goals for the implementation of the Lighthouse KMS. The first was a reduction in the error rate, which is calculated by taking the number of errors by the Cares team and dividing it by the number of transactions that the team processes. In this business, every error has a major impact and will be reported by a member of GE Healthcare's engineering team, customer operations managers, or the customer themselves. For example, in most businesses, incorrectly asking a caller for a purchase order (PO) would not be a critical error. In this world, asking a customer, who should not provide one, for a PO means a vital piece of lifesaving equipment remains inoperable while a nurse wastes time chasing unnecessary paperwork through a maze of departments. There are no mistakes that do not escalate.

Second, GE Healthcare wanted to cut the time it took for new hires to be fully trained. Because of the complexity of the business, it took an average of 6 months for new agents to work through their learning curve and reach goals for average handle time (AHT) and quality assurance (QA). Much of this was due to the challenge of using the previous knowledgebase, which consisted of PowerPoint and Word documents housed in an environment reminiscent of SharePoint.

The Process

As with any modern contact center, GE Healthcare’s Cares Call Center measures virtually everything. During weekly error review meetings, defects are reviewed, root causes analyzed, and action plans created. There is a QA Team whose primary focus is researching root and proximate causes for every error, and then providing evaluation to both call center leadership and any other GE resources impacted by the defect.

The error rate is a key contractual metric with GE Healthcare's outsource partners, and agent incentives are tied to error rates. The secondary metric for agents' learning curve was dependent on reporting from the workforce management team, which provided AHT, and from the QA team, which was constantly monitoring phone calls and auditing service requests for accuracy. The goal was that newly trained agents would achieve both AHT and QA targets in 90 days versus the previous 6 months.

The implementation of the Lighthouse KMS was a massive undertaking for the GE Healthcare team. GE Healthcare wanted to evaluate each work instruction as it was moved to Lighthouse, verifying that it still was accurate and was the right process for the business.

The Result

It's not difficult to move from bad to good, but GE Healthcare wanted to move from good to great.

The knowledge management program in support of GE Healthcare's Cares Call Center was initiated on July 11, 2017. Ultimately, the partnership with TTEC and the Lighthouse KMS implementation allowed GE Healthcare to reach its goal.

The goal was to move the error rate from 1.6% to 0.25%. For a recent 12-month period, the Cares Call Center averaged an error rate of 0.20%. More importantly, performance has continued to improve even as the goal has been met or surpassed. In one recent month, the error rate was a record low 0.12%.

GE Healthcare has also seen dramatic improvement in the learning curves of new trainees. New hires are now reaching the goal for QA and AHT in fewer than 90 days, down from 6 months when the Lighthouse KMS system was implemented. With any work instruction available in three clicks or less, the improved ability of new agents to access the information they need is a driving force in improving efficiency and accuracy.

Ultimately, for GE Healthcare, the true success of the KMS implementation is not about agents reaching AHT goals more quickly or lower error rate numbers announced on a bulletin board; it is about how those numbers impact GE Healthcare's customers and their patients. Reducing the error rate from 1.6% to the recent record low of 0.12% means that 6,000 critical pieces of lifesaving equipment are being serviced faster and that nurses and medical technicians are spending less time talking to a call center and more time with their patients. Faster, more accurate service from GE Healthcare's Cares Call Center allows its customers to do their jobs, which is saving lives.

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