…Continued from Poison Center Automated Help.
As most poison centers do provide some kind of medical identification request (MIR) service, it makes sense to see if IVR systems can help. The University of New Mexico study set out to do just that.
What the year-long study found was that the number of calls requiring the help of live specialists dropped dramatically after the implementation of an IVR system—from almost 53,000 annually to a little over 8,300 annually, for an 84% decrease in volume.
However, the study concluded that it’s not clear whether that’s actually a positive or a negative. Maybe people got the answers they needed from the IVR. Maybe people stopped calling because they didn’t want to talk to an IVR (if that’s the case, a simple option to speak to a live specialist would have solved the problem).
So from a poison center’s perspective, a rapid drop in MIR volume could represent “success” if the MIRs were impeding emergency call handling, degrading normal services, increasing center liability, or creating an undue financial burden on the center operation.
Evidently, segments of our population still prefer human contact over our digitized counterpart. With this in mind, it is possible that the precipitous drop in MIRs seen in our before- and after-study represents disgruntled clients. If this is the case, and if the group grows in size eventually dissuading others from calling the poison center, the use of IVR technology could be viewed as a “failure.”
Going back to the question of talking to a machine versus talking to a live agent, I’d argue that we’re so used to talking with IVRs at this point, it’s more likely those people got the answers they wanted. And, like I said, you can always throw in an option to speak with a live agent/specialist.