Appl Clin Inform 2017; 08(02): 381-395
DOI: 10.4338/ACI-2016-11-RA-0191
Research Article
Schattauer GmbH

Using telephony data to facilitate discovery of clinical workflows

Donald W. Rucker
1  Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Emergency Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

08 November 2016

13 February 2017

Publication Date:
21 December 2017 (online)


Background: Discovery of clinical workflows to target for redesign using methods such as Lean and Six Sigma is difficult. VoIP telephone call pattern analysis may complement direct observation and EMR-based tools in understanding clinical workflows at the enterprise level by allowing visualization of institutional telecommunications activity.

Objective: To build an analytic framework mapping repetitive and high-volume telephone call patterns in a large medical center to their associated clinical units using an enterprise unified communications server log file and to support visualization of specific call patterns using graphical networks.

Methods: Consecutive call detail records from the medical center’s unified communications server were parsed to cross-correlate telephone call patterns and map associated phone numbers to a cost center dictionary. Hashed data structures were built to allow construction of edge and node files representing high volume call patterns for display with an open source graph network tool.

Results: Summary statistics for an analysis of exactly one week’s call detail records at a large academic medical center showed that 912,386 calls were placed with a total duration of 23,186 hours. Approximately half of all calling called number pairs had an average call duration under 60 seconds and of these the average call duration was 27 seconds.

Conclusions: Cross-correlation of phone calls identified by clinical cost center can be used to generate graphical displays of clinical enterprise communications. Many calls are short. The compact data transfers within short calls may serve as automation or re-design targets. The large absolute amount of time medical center employees were engaged in VoIP telecommunications suggests that analysis of telephone call patterns may offer additional insights into core clinical workflows.

Citation: Rucker DW. Using telephony data to facilitate discovery of clinical workflows. Appl Clin Inform 2017; 8: 381–395

Ethical approval

“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”