Future Bet: Call Center Automation

Call Center Automation


As technology progresses, there are increasingly more opportunities for “bots” to replace humans in jobs that can be automated. One prime example is the centralized hospital call center, as well as call centers specific to various departments. 

When the COVID-19 vaccine first became available to the public in early 2021, Houston Methodist predicted the significant increase in call volumes (300-400%) from patients and the general public, but did not want this increase to negatively impact day-to-day operations. 

The goal is to find a solution that accomplishes the following:


  • Scaled to accommodate changes in call volume without impacting standard operations  

  • Improved the patient experience 

  • Automated the delivery of information and scheduling of appointments  

  • Was financially prudent 


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston Methodist created a COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline specifically designed to streamline processes and eliminate any confusion for patients and the general public. This ensured that all COVID-19 related phone calls were directed away from front-line contact centers and preserved operational integrity for non-COVID related inquiries. 


Houston Methodist Center for Innovation established a partnership with Syllable.ai, a conversational, artificially intelligent voice assistant. This smart solution helped patients easily find answers to frequently asked questions and initiate self-service scheduling workflows that would connect them with a live agent if needed. 

The call center automation was immediately successful and led to improved patient conversion, increased call-in capacity and cost reduction. 


  • 91% automation rate across all patient intents 
  • 9,000+ calls automated per day 
  • 100% calls answered on first ring, eliminating call abandonment 
  • Decreased temporary staffing and expensive telephone software needs 


The COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline was the first pipeline to implement call center automation at Houston Methodist, yet there remains several call centers across the system that could benefit from this artificial intelligence system. 


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