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Jennifer McCalley is the New "Voice of Dartmouth-Hitchcock"

Jennifer McCalley is the New "Voice of Dartmouth-Hitchcock"

Jennifer McCalley, MSW, ACHP-SW, is a certified palliative care social worker and the program coordinator for Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H) Honoring Care Decisions program. But she’s also an actress, who studied for a brief time at the American Academy for Dramatic Arts in her early 20s, and produced and directed Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” with New York City’s Feed the Herd Theatre Company when she was 30.

So when the D-H Office of Patient Experience announced a contest to find the “Voice of Dartmouth-Hitchcock,” McCalley decided to enter. She was one of nearly 40 D-H employees to submit a sample recording for this contest, which will establish a single voice for D-H’s phone system and messaging. “We were looking for a warm and friendly voice that could deliver concise messages and clear routing options for all incoming ambulatory service calls,” says project co-leader Mary Bolg, director of Ambulatory Operations in Lebanon.

Project co-leader Patricia “Patty” Fajans, director of regional operations within the Community Group Practices (CGPs), adds, “Our project committee narrowed down the voices to our top five. After that, we shared these voices with patient and family advisors, and Jennifer’s voice was the clear choice to represent us.”

McCalley was thrilled when she got the news. “My father, Dr. Stuart McCalley [a pulmonologist in Greenwich, CT], has done some voiceover work in the past, so I thought it would be nice to follow in his footsteps. He was really excited when I told him the news that I’d been chosen!”

The “Voice of Dartmouth-Hitchcock” is part of of a larger project in which an Automatic Call Distribution System (ACD) system is being implemented throughout D-H. “We are trying to standardize as many things as possible so that patients and referring physicians know what to expect when they call and can quickly and efficiently use our system,” Bolg explains. “One of the things we want to standardize is the voice they hear when they call D-H.”

A system-wide ACD system will help to improve the experiences of patients and referring providers, Bolg adds. “In our current state, some clinical areas have an ACD and phone tree. But many do not, so the process of how we answer phones leads to a lot of variability. Patients leave messages that go unreturned, get a ringing phone that goes unanswered or get placed on hold for long periods of time. In some areas, when you call a clinic you could hear many different voices in trying to get through to one person. We want a process that streamlines patients getting through to a person on the phone, and we want a professional and consistent voice that the patient hears along the way.”

Bolg notes that an ACD will also enable D-H to gather data about the calls the health system receives, such as how many calls come in daily, call duration and how long patients wait on hold. “By implementing an ACD, we will be able to gather this data, track key metrics and make a staffing plan that will allow us to provide better service to our patients,” she says, adding that their goal is to answer 85 percent of incoming calls in 45 seconds or less.

McCalley has already begun recording the automated messages for the ACD system, which will be rolled out in the coming months. “Because I work mostly in Keene [at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene], Mary Jane Kamps in Cheshire’s IT Services has kindly found me telephones to record the messages. I simply call into the messaging system and record as if I was leaving a voice mail,” McCalley says. “The recordings can take anywhere from three to 30 minutes, depending on how many messages [telecommunications analyst] Norm Skakalski sends me in one batch. I’m appreciating all the vocal exercises my high school drama teacher, Rick Kohn, put me through years ago!”

Bolg says the ACD implementation work “will continue throughout this calendar year. I expect that by the end of the year, Jennifer’s is the prevalent voice that will be heard in D-H’s north region.”

Fajans adds that the southern region shares the same goals. “The CGP’s will begin using Jennifer’s voice on existing ACD’s in June and continue the roll out with new ACD’s though the rest of this calendar year.”

McCalley, who recently celebrated her one-year D-H work anniversary, is enjoying her dual role and the voiceover work. “It feels good to support D-H in this way,” she says. “I am very customer-service oriented, so I love the idea of making the patient experience just a little smoother by providing a consistent voice across our phone system. I also appreciate my manager Susan Fitzgibbon’s support in allowing me the time to do this fun project.”