Legacy phones, diverse software programs, cell phone usage at work — these are the headaches of today’s healthcare IT managers. The mishmash of infrastructure they must cope with costs your organization money, time, efficiency and patient satisfaction, while endangering confidentiality.
Is moving your systems to the cloud the answer? If you decide “yes,” you won’t be alone. In an HIMSS Analytics 2017 survey, 65 percent of respondents reported they currently use cloud services. Their focus is on data hosting, data recovery and backup, clinical applications and hosting of operational applications.
Here are some examples of what a cloud deployment looks like and the results you can expect for your healthcare firm.
Never too far away
What do you do when your nearest IT support is two hours away? Gore Health, a 100-person healthcare organization in Southland, New Zealand, had a legacy TDM-based PBX telephony set-up. Programming and fixing the system had to be accomplished on-site, but the nearest technical support was in Dunedin, almost two hours away. In addition, there was no back-up in case of an outage.
Instead of upgrading the legacy system, Gore decided to move to the cloud and use a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution, running over a SIP service via a managed fiber network. In case of outages, the system diverts to mobile services. The organization also improved internal communications with audio conferencing, work groups and voicemail integrated with each user’s Microsoft Outlook email account.
How was the transition managed? The new system was set up in parallel to Gore Health’s existing PBX, so the cutover was completed seamlessly.
Gore Health can now directly manage most of the system administration. More complex technical support and upgrades are completed remotely via the cloud. It also realized significant telecommunications savings by switching to the SIP-based fiber network.
“It’s very straightforward for us to set up and assign extensions or new phones ourselves,” says Fiona Marsh, Gore’s administration manager. “We also no longer have to pay monthly rent for the six copper lines we had, and our call rates are now far more cost-effective.”
Not sure how healthy your healthcare firm's communications are? Then check out our infographic here. >
Bringing it all together
With 11 locations, Capstone Pediatrics needed a telephony solution that would streamline scheduling appointments, efficiently use the staff members’ time and increase overall patient satisfaction. Its outdated on-site system was costing time and money.
Rather than invest in updating its legacy system, Capstone decided to establish a patient contact center that could handle calls for all practices using a hosted, cloud-based phone system.
Thomas Okokhere, Captone’s vice president of financial, analysis and internal audit, explains how the new system has improved patient service. “Our patient contact center has a dashboard, which makes it easy to monitor calls, view and keep track of the average time to answer, abandon rates and other patterns that can affect the overall patient experience,” he said. “Previously, every practice location was handling patient appointments individually ... now appointment calls are centralized and the whole process is much more efficient.”
The results are impressive. A cost savings of $1,000 per month from a reduction in front-office staff, higher revenue from more patient visits and an increase in calls answered in less than 30 seconds.
Is the cloud right for you?
If you’re considering moving all or part of your communications to the cloud, keep these points in mind.
Needs analysis. Take the time to analyze your current systems and involve all stakeholders. Identify where your system is costing you money and patient satisfaction. How can you leverage current investments while still updating your services and operations?
Do your research. Learn more about unified communications and cloud-based technologies. Read industry analysts’ reports on best practices.
A smooth transition. A good unified communications as a service (UCaaS) partner will build a solution that fits your needs, utilizing current infrastructure and creating a timeline that works for your organization. It’s crucial to keep your existing communications systems up and running while the new structure is put in place.
Secure data. A common concern of healthcare providers is whether the cloud will keep data secure, which is essential for HIPAA compliance. Look for UCaaS partners who’ve been certified as meeting Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards and offer a BAA (Business Associate Agreement).
Making the decision to move some or all of your communications to a cloud-based platform can be daunting. Choose a partner who can help you find, and implement, the best solution for your healthcare organization.