Within the business world today utilization of technology improves many aspects of the workforce. Technology such as the telephone, email, and fax machines help us to communicate quickly. Various technological systems help to perform functions of individual jobs faster and more accurately. “In little more than a generation, the rapid evolution of information technology (IT) has changed the very foundations of the American economic landscape” (Townsend, 2000). As the economy has changed from a manufacturing economy to an information economy, the nature of work has been altered and the workplace itself has undergone dramatic change. This phenomenon, of a technologically advanced and dependent world has made managers reliant on the use of that technology.
Included in this basic dependence on technology comes the expectation of that technology doing to work in replacement of the employee, or the expectation that just because there is technology in place it will perform better or more efficiently than the employee. “These changes in both the function and structure of organizations have changed the role of individual workers, as well as their relationship to the organization” (Townsend, 2000).
More frequently, information today is stored, processed, and distributed in digital format. The Internet has a profound influence, and The Next Generation Internet provides greatly expanded capabilities for transmitting and displaying information in all formats. E-commerce and e-business are fundamentally changing the dynamics of the marketplace, opening many new possibilities for communicating, collaborating, and transacting business. In this new era of business, managers generally expect technology to improve business (Regan, & O'Connor, 2002). Very few businesses can survive without making good use of computers or information technology (Kingston, 2005). This attitude within the UW Medicine call center is particularly evident.
Structure and Resources of UW Medicine
The 150 employees at the UW Medicine Call Center are divided into 15 teams, each with their own manager to report to and work under. These managers work together to make up the supervisory staff, who implement tools to assist in the performance of each employee. Some of these tools include head-set, keyboard, or desk modifications, online patient registration and communication, online resource guides, online insurance verification tools, hardback instruction manuals, other printed resources, an inter-office communication system, and a company intranet. All of these tools help each individual employee to perform the required functions of their position. Sometimes, however, managers expect these tools to automatically improve the work that an individual employee puts out.
The job of a contact center representative (CCR) is to “put the patient first” in the best way. Employees answer patient phone calls for more than 100 clinics as well as send messages, maintain patient information, abide by all HIPPA regulations, and work expertly with Microsoft Office. A CCR uses many resources to service each patient phone call to the best of their ability, but sometimes there is too much information or too many resources to process. The CCR’s dependence on technology is also a concern, as without the use of a computer and phone, the job would be obsolete.
The managers at the call center expect that with more information and more knowledge at the representatives’ fingertips, there will be fewer mistakes equaling increased accuracy. The use of those resources will improve the speed at which each call is completed as well as completely satisfy the patient. This idea, however, is misguided. Each representative has one main program and about three support programs to operate and use to complete the patient call. With each addition of a potential “resource,” the CCR can become overwhelmed by the amount of information available not wanting