At Plum, we didn’t need anyone to tell us that IVR can help in emergency situations, but it’s nice when studies back it up. Which is what a real-world Texas state study showed in 2009.
Researchers from the Texas Department of State Health Services and Commission on State Emergency Communications provided evidence that IVR systems can help poison control centers disseminate important information during public health emergencies.
On April 28, 2009, a message went live on the Texas Poison Center Network IVR system regarding the H1N1 virus (swine flu). Researchers analyzed data gathered over the next month.
What they found was that IVR is just as helpful in public health emergencies as it is in call centers (sorry to get sales-y). In particular, it was helpful providing information to concerned callers, not all of whom needed to speak to poison center agents.
The simple system offered a choice of English or Spanish language, followed by an informative message regarding H1N1—
The following brief message will tell you what the influenza A (H1N1) or swine flu is, how it is spread, what the symptoms are, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you are sick…
The message went on in detail and ended with the option to speak to a poison center agent if callers didn’t have their questions answered by the message.
According to the study, about a third of the 1,142 callers between the end of April and end of May hung up after the message. With the IVR system, the state was able to handle a full third of callers without escalating to conversations with busy agents.
The researchers concluded that, indeed…Interactive voice response technology can be used to assist poison centers to provide information and handle calls from the public during a public health emergency.