Telephony Integration in Primary Care

CRM Integration
April 23, 2024

By Rob Cox, VP Integrations and Pricing Management, Akixi


With the increased time pressure on our GP Practices and Health Centres, finding ways to improve the efficiency and productivity of staff interaction with their patients is more important than ever. Although online interaction is increasingly promoted and used, the majority of communication is still completed over the telephone. Hence, small gains in the time taken to handle a call can lead to significant efficiency and productivity gains, as well as improved caller satisfaction.


For instance, a well-designed computer telephony integration (CTI) desktop application will save the user considerable time during customer interactions, typically at least 20 seconds per call. Using information from a local surgery near where I live, the average duration of a telephone call is about 3 minutes 30 seconds. A 20 second reduction in call time will give an 8% increase in call handling efficiency or put another way, will allow the reception staff to handle 8% more calls when calls are queuing during their busy periods. With respect to “busy periods”, it is also worth noting that 20% of the daily call volume is in the first 60 minutes from the time their lines open.


Computer telephony integration between a practice’s Clinical Management System (CMS) and their telephone system is one way to significantly boost productivity, efficiency, and patient satisfaction. These benefits can be split into two broad areas: those directly related to the interaction with the CMS; and those related to the interaction with the telephone system and its users. Let’s explore these direct and indirect benefits, and the features that deliver them, further:

Direct Benefits

Caller Preview: This is a feature that allows the person answering the phone (like a receptionist or nurse) to see the name of the patient calling as soon as the phone rings. It works by searching the CMS, in real-time, for the caller’s phone number and presenting the caller’s information on the Call Handlers desktop computer. This helps the person answering the call to recognise the caller and provide better assistance. 


Contact Popping: Assuming that a search completed by the Caller Preview feature is successful, then this means a patient record exists for the Caller and, assuming the CMS system supports it, allows this record to be either automatically or manually (with the click of a mouse key) opened or “popped” on the Call-Handler’s desktop computer, thus avoiding the need to manually search for their record within the CMS. This will typically save 20 seconds per call. 


Search and Dial: Whereas the two previous functions are mainly associated with inbound calls,” Search and Dial” is very much focussed at outbound calling, and provides methods of quickly finding and dialling a patient. It also avoids the need for the Call-Handler to physically dial the number from their handset (known as click to dial), again saving between 15 and 20 seconds for the call. 

Indirect Benefits

Presence: Presence, or Extension status, provides real time information regarding the hook state of the call handers co-workers i.e., whether they are busy on another call or not. This avoids both the time wasted and the inconvenience to the Caller when the person they need to speak to is not available. A good Presence feature will also allow the Call-Handler to transfer the call to an available co-worker without the need to physically operate their handset. 


Call Back: This allows the Call-Handler to rapidly leave a message for their co-worker, with details of the Caller and a link to their patient record, if they were unable to transfer a call to them at time of the original call. 


Call History: This provides the Call Handler the opportunity to quickly see a chronological record of all the calls they made and received, and to either make a call back, or to pop the patient record. 

Risk and Compliance

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as implementing any old CMS integrating application, the features described above can, if poorly implemented, have serious consequences. For example, a caller’s number could easily be associated with multiple patients all from, say, the same family. Any risk of the Caller being associated with the wrong patient record must be mitigated to the greatest possible extent.  


A well-designed implementation of “Caller Preview” and “Contact Popping”” needs to ensure that the Call-Handler is aware of multiple matches and is presented with the information in such a way that it is difficult for them to select the wrong record. It is also crucial that the application be properly assessed for any potential risks and mitigation steps documented  


The good news is that this can easily be resolved by selecting a Solution provider that  has designed and documented their Application to meet the standards laid down in section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act. DCB 0129 (1), DCB 0160 (2). NHS Digital operate a program called “IM1 Pairing Integration” (IM1 Pairing integration – NHS Digital) which provides application vendors access to the APIs of any principle primary care clinical systems, but only once their application has successfully completed their IM1 Assurance. The link above lists the suppliers and their applications that have met this standard – it is a great starting place to find out what applications are available. 

The exciting news is that the benefits detailed above are realisable today for as little as £5 per user per month and that we can help.   


Mondago (now Akixi) provide NHS Digital assured applications that integrate with EMIS EMISWeb and TPP SystmOne from many popular business telephony systems including Cisco BroadWorks, Cisco Webex Calling, Microsoft Teams and NetSapiens. Other providers are also listed at the link given above.


To discover more, get in touch below:

About the Author

Since graduating with a degree in Electronic Engineering from the University of Sheffield, Rob has worked in the IT and Telecommunications industry. Over that time Rob has been through a range of roles from Programming, IT Operations, Outsourced Managed Services, Product and Sales and Marketing. Over the past 15 years Rob has specifically specialised in products related to computer telephony integration and CRM integration and was a founder and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Mondago Ltd. until their recent acquisition by Akixi Ltd.