ER24’s Contact Centre does more than just handle emergency calls from the public. It’s a sophisticated, go-to technology service offering tailormade products to suit an array of client needs.

As South Africa’s leading emergency medical services company (EMS), the capabilities of our Contact Centre stretch well beyond the field of medical emergencies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the Centre offered a vaccination query line as well as a service to find open beds for patients needing ICU and other treatments. ER24 also boasts a range of state-of-the-art contact centre solutions, and provides specialist training to build the skill sets needed to work in help desk support services.

Apart from having the technology to provide a broad range of emergency medical services, ER24’s dynamic Contact Centre creates and manages multiple contact centres within the environment. Dedicated teams are formed based on the services delivery requirements and skills needed. An example is the Mediclinic at Home team, which is equipped to co-ordinate the efforts required for Mediclinic patients who are admitted into an at-home setting.

Mediclinic’s Engagement Centre (MEC)

The Mediclinic Engagement Centre (MEC) service acts as a one-stop shop; a dedicated, single point of contact that Mediclinic clients can access via phone, email or website. The service catalogue MEC oversees continues to grow, and goes beyond fielding basic queries, servicing clients at hospital level and externally.

Trained agents respond to numerous requests – from questions about new products to booking appointments for specific services. These client service agents aim to answer the question immediately, using a growing knowledge repository about specific products and services that Mediclinic offers.

“For instance, if the client wants to know more about Mediclinic Renal Services, or book an appointment for renal services, agents have the information at their disposal to help the client immediately,” says Shakira Cassim, General Manager: ER24 Contact Centres. For a more complex query or request, the centre acknowledges it and sources resolution quickly from  the relevant expert. “As soon as our team receives resolution on the customer query, contact is made and feedback is provided.”

In the case of a complaint, MEC agents acknowledge the issue and track the complaint until it’s resolved. “We then ensure the customer gets appropriate feedback via a dedicated Patient Experience Manager or Doctor Relationship Manager,” Cassim explains. 

MEC agents also support the Care Navigators who form part of Mediclinic’s Care Expert programme. People who undergo hip and knee replacements under Care Expert are onboarded into a care programme co-ordinated by a dedicated professional called a Care Expert Navigator. Their role is to track and measure care outcomes by providing continuity of care during a patient’s hospitalisation, following their progress from the initial consultation with the specialist until well after discharge. MEC Clinical Care Coordinators, who are registered nurses, support the Care Expert team by co-ordinating a questionnaire for patients six months after their procedure.

The MEC is an integral link between the patient, doctor and other supporting staff to share vital information correctly and timeously.

ER24’s Contact Centre services telecommunication clients

South African law dictates that anyone with a cellphone contract must have access to an emergency number, irrespective of whether the SIM card is in the phone or they have airtime. “Commercially, we contract with three telecommunication clients, providing them with a contact centre for their 112 services,” says Cassim. “We deliver the people, technology and skills for those services to Vodacom, Rain, and Cell C, with dedicated teams for each client.”

ER24 also provides Vodacom with an innovative service for hearing- or speech-impaired customers. We initially partnered with Vodacom in creating a SMS and mobile application platform for Vodacom customers who need emergency assistance. More recently, ER24 was contracted to provide National Relay Services to Vodacom customers. “We have accredited agents who specialise in sign language and use technology to connect via video with someone who is either deaf or hearing-impaired,” Cassim explains.

“The agent then acts as a relay person for the client, taking instructions in sign language via video and then speaking to the relevant person/people on the client’s behalf. This can range from making doctor appointments to discussions between loved ones, and from ordering pizza to calling for emergency medical services. This much-needed service provides access to people who previously had little or no access to such services.”

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has now ruled that all broadcasting, communications and telecommunications platforms must also offer this service. “This means the SABC, DStv, universities, or any entity that falls under the ambit of communication, has to provide for people with hearing or speech disabilities,” Cassim says. “Not forgetting that sign language is South Africa’s 12th language, so companies must also make this niche service available to employees.”