Hospital Call Center: Fast-Paced Training


NorthShore University HealthSystem is a major university-affiliated organization that serves the Chicago metropolitan area. NorthShore operates four major hospitals and employs nearly 10,000 individuals including approximately 2,100 affiliated physicians.

For most patients, the first interaction with NorthShore begins with a patient access representative through the healthcare system’s centralized call center. These representatives are responsible for scheduling appointments, reviewing insurance coverage, providing accurate medical test instructions, offering office location directions, and addressing other patient concerns. NorthShore takes pride in this team of more than 150 patient access representatives and strives to assure they have the skills, confidence and support they need to deliver a quality experience to patients.


To better serve its patients, NorthShore initiated a reorganization requiring representatives to change their call procedures and processes. Significantly, many representatives would be working outside their areas of experience and would need to quickly master different areas of content such as new medical terminology, scheduling and registration procedures, and insurance and patient portal technologies.

NorthShore call center experts invested significant time and effort developing medical terminology content and outlining new call center processes and procedures. Yet, a team of instructional designers was needed to translate the volume of complex content into a training program that would:

  • Serve the diverse group of call center representatives with varying levels of education and experience;
  • Minimize the impact on patient service while the training was being conducted; and
  • Train and reassure call center representatives in advance of the change that was rapidly approaching.


CARA offered a custom learning solution, providing a team of six instructional designers led by a project manager who worked in close collaboration with the healthcare system’s management, training team and subject matter experts.

In less than 10 weeks, CARA delivered a customized four-step Training Journey—each step building on the last—that used a combination of independent learning, live classroom sessions and post-training coaching and support:

  • Step 1 – Independent pre-work activities incorporating paper/pencil and online learning exercises to introduce representatives to their new groups and terminologies.
  • Step 2 – A series of online webcasts representatives experienced independently aimed at building confidence and competence with new medical terminology.
  • Step 3 – A series of engaging instructor-led workshops focused on scheduling, registration and messaging skills, modularized to allow representatives to attend only those workshops needed based on their current experience.
  • Step 4 – Post-Training Support that includes coaching and on-the-job shadowing support.

CARA provided NorthShore’s training team with the supporting webcasts, eLearning modules, instructor guides, classroom presentations and learning assessments necessary to lead each representative on his or her Training Journey. As a result, the representatives were quickly prepared to adapt to and support the reorganization for the benefit of patients system-wide. Moreover, the healthcare system retains and is building upon the program as a proven method for training new patient access representatives now and into the future.