Case Studies

Healthy Overhaul

For Horizon Health, IT Consolidation is good medicine.

By George V. Hulme

November 2006

Horizon Health recently improved its business processes and profitability by increasing efficiencies thanks to the successful introduction in April 2006 of Oracle's Siebel Healthcare 7.7 integrated healthcare management suite. The new application replaced a largely homegrown system. Cindy Sheriff, vice president of employee assistance program services at Horizon Health, indicates that the implementation process went very smoothly. The firm reports that already the average time to process a claim has been reduced to 2 minutes from 10 minutes. In addition, the training necessary for new call center member advocates has been reduced from 10 days to 2 days.


Horizon Health began addressing challenges with call center inefficiencies by consolidating its 18 call centers to three centers. It chose Oracle's Siebel Call Center because the application is functionally rich. In particular, Horizon selected Siebel because it is commonly used in many corporate call centers and many workers are already familiar with it. In addition, the Siebel has a strong community of support integrators.

Siebel Call Center enables Horizon Health member advocates to do a better job answering questions from customers. It also has streamlined the management of appointments, and facilitated claims processing. Horizon Health appreciates that the Siebel software is very customizable and flexible, leading to valuable time savings and cost reductions.

Horizon Health

Headquarters: Lewisville, Texas
Number of employees: 3,000
Annual revenue: US$207 million (2005)
Oracle products and services: Oracle's Siebel Healthcare 7.7, Siebel Call Center, Siebel Service

At 6 a.m. on April 3, 2006, Cindy Sheriff, vice president of employee assistance program services for Horizon Health, was braced for the worst. It was the day the Lewisville, Texas-based healthcare provider switched from a largely homegrown call center and custom services support software to Oracle's Siebel Healthcare. Sherriff's team had spent months preparing for this day.

Sheriff had endured several software migrations in her career. "My previous experiences were miserable. We had dropped and abandoned calls, irate customers, and HR directors calling in wanting to know what was going on. It was chaotic," she recalls.

To prepare for the implementation—which included call centers in Lewisville; Denver, Colorado; and San Diego, California—Horizon added additional member advocates or call center agents, the office was decorated with balloons, and plenty of food and candy were on hand. "We wanted to make sure we were ready and could keep morale high," Sheriff says. Zeke Zoccoli, Horizon's vice president of IT, had scheduled what he called "fire call" meetings throughout the day at 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.

None of those calls were necessary. "We waited for disastrous things to happen—and they didn't," says Sheriff. "It was a boring day."

Maybe so, but the day proved to be a powerful turning point that dramatically improved Horizon's business processes and profitability by slashing inefficiencies that had hampered its operations. From that day forward, the average time to process a claim fell from 10 minutes to 2 minutes, and the training required for new call center member advocates fell from 10 days to 2 days.


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