Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform enables CEGA Air Ambulance to turn around quotes in just 20 minutes
CEGA Air Ambulance is in the business of saving lives, which also means it’s in the business of saving time.
The firm is one of a few UK-based services that flies critically ill patients back from abroad, working with health insurers such as Aviva, Zurich, and Liverpool Victoria to make sure the client has the highest chance of survival. CEGA even has a contract with the BBC to provide emergency assistance to its reporters in hostile environments. To do this, CEGA has its own fleet of jets and pilots which are always on call ready to airlift clients to hospital.
The problem for CEGA is that coordinating a flight back to the UK involves a lot of paperwork, which could potentially use up a lot of time – time that is precious. Which pilots are available? Which aircraft are available? Where does the patient need to go? What sort of injury do they have? All this, on top of the basic fact that you can’t just get on a plane and fly. There are pilot and airport documents to sort out, as well as customs and excise issues, air rules to abide by.
Jackie Gillard, services manager at CEGA, told TechWeekEurope: “Sometimes you’ve got a really sick patient, the NHS is holding a bed for you and you literally have 24 hours to bring this patient home. Now considering the amount of work that involves flying a patient home, you need to be able to activate that quote and tell the pilots that we’re going as soon as possible.”
Jackie joined CEGA in 2011, and instantly recognised that something had to be done about CEGA’s previous system. “It’s a really competitive market,” explained Jackie. “Believe it or not there are other air ambulance companies within the UK and in Europe and it does get very competitive, so the quicker you can get back to the client with a price and a quote, the quicker you can get the work.”
From the moment a phone call came in, it would typically take up to two hours for CEGA Air Ambulance to turn around a quote and guarantee a pickup for client. CEGA was running on a customised legacy CRM software system that had been in place for years. Jackie knew that something had to change, so Microsoft Dynamics CRM was brought on board.
“It would be one patient, and it would be one request, but you had to repeat yourself 20 times before you got to the end of one job. My task was to find an easier process, something that would capture all this information in one go then put throughout one system to the right people. That’s what CRM does,” said Jackie.
“I did a bit of a search online to who was doing any type of software system. We came across a couple of companies, one of them was QGate,” said Jackie. QGate is a Hampshire-based CRM consultancy. “They came and met us, we sat around a table, we put all the pieces of paper in front of them and told them we need to find a way of getting all these pieces of paper to talk to each other. And they just looked at us and said that they have a tool for that.” That tool was Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
CEGA Air Ambulance calculates the cost of its emergency flights through the amount of nautical miles that its pilots have to fly. Jackie explained how CEGA’s old CRM system did only that, and none of the other calculations necessary to win a quote first. “The CRM system was old fashioned,” explained Jackie. “It was a really archaic system and it would only calculate the costing. It didn’t generate anything else other than the cost of the flight itself. It didn’t collect that information then transfer it to all other pieces we need. It just calculated the distance and added the price, and then we used to pick that price up then we had to go into all these different system to transfer that information through. It was very time consuming”
But by using Microsoft Dynamics’ CRM software, that two-hour long quote turnaround has been reduced to just 20 minutes, according to Jackie. This is a win/win situation, as CEGA can more aggressively compete with its rivals in snapping up jobs to bring ill patients home, and patients can get emergency airlift services to them in a shorter amount of time.
Jackie said: “It definitely helps in saving lives. We used to work with the Channel Islands. We’ve lost the contract now, but when we did have the Guernsey contract, it was obvious the speed was essential. The hospital on the island doesn’t have the capability to look after critically ill patients. You have to be flown out of the island into Southampton.
“We’ve been known to be doing CPR on patients all the way from Guernsey into Southampton. If you’re thinking the hospital is asking you to get a quote for a certain patient, they need to get out ASAP. You’d then have two hours to do the paperwork. It’s just never going to happen. Speed was key to bring these people safely home.”
Jackie said that Microsoft’s CRM platform is simple and easy to work with, and the implementation process, with QGate in the middle, was easy.
“They didn’t know anything about aviation and we didn’t know anything about software systems. It was a combination of us trying to teach them what we needed and them coming up with the solution. It was a great partnership.”