Research Pain Points To Win The Job
According to the American Hospital Association, rural hospitals provide healthcare services to nearly 54 million people. The role of technology in rural hospitals has become essential in promoting patient safety through bar coding medications and meeting quality metrics reporting requirements using clinical documentation systems. Technology impacts everything healthcare professionals do — how they chart, how they document, how they communicate remotely with other clinicians, etc. Therefore, vital provisions for rural hospitals including voice communication systems, wireless data networks, and mobility are now deemed a necessity. Imagine Technologies, a systems integrator, recently enabled an SMB rural healthcare organization to improve patient safety, reduce errors, increase efficiency, decrease time-consuming and redundant paperwork, and enhance interfacility communication by integrating VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) and wireless data systems.
The rural healthcare organization, which includes a combination of separate urgent care and long-term facilities and clinics, employs doctors, nurses, and specialists. In September 2008, Imagine Technologies contacted the healthcare organization to discuss the value statements it had created to show a total cost of ownership model to solve its unacceptable voice and mobility problems. "After going through their business problems with them, we gained their trust," says Jerry Tracy, sales manager at Imagine Technologies. "Also, we offered an integration of different products and services specifically designed for HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] compliances, including the movement to electronic records, and enabling mobility for the work staff." These items initiated talks between the integrator and the healthcare organization's IT department and CFO.
Enhance Communication, Medication
Procedures With Integrated Solutions
Prior to the installation, the organization communicated via a traditional private branch exchange (PBX) phone system (i.e. a normal phone system). The wireless data systems and telephone systems were not integrated, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for healthcare professionals to communicate with one another. The phone system was eight years old, and it did not allow doctors and nurses to communicate between buildings. For example, calls could not be transferred, each building's voicemail was on different systems, there was no paging system, and clinicians couldn't tell when other clinicians were already on the phone. Imagine Technologies offered a solution that remedied all these pain points, as well as another pain point the healthcare organization had experienced for years. Nurses use a computer on wheels (COW) to bar code, distribute, and document patients' prescription medication dosages. The COW had been running on a subpar wireless application because nurses couldn't answer phone calls and operate the COW simultaneously. When the nurses' station telephone rang, the nurse had to leave the cart unsupervised for several minutes at a time to answer the phone. The integrator wanted to install an integrated wireless data network and a wireless phone system. The desired outcome will be when the phone rings, the nurse can answer the wireless phone right at the COW without leaving the cart or disturbing the flow of medication distribution.
To alleviate the communication and mobility issues, Imagine Technologies installed an Avaya SME (small medium enterprises) VoIP phone system, Aruba Wireless, HP Pro Curve for data switching, and Microsoft Unified Communications, which were purchased from Catalyst Telecom. The hardware installed included the HP Pro Curve 2600 Series, Microsoft Exchange 2007 with unified messaging and speech recognition, the Avaya IP Office, and the Aruba Mobility Controller. The integrator conducted installation, which took three weeks. End user training was done in three stages — basic user (i.e. nurses and doctors), receptionist (learn how to answer calls with a wireless headset), and administration (create and retrieve reports).
Since completing the installation, Imagine Technologies expects to accrue four to six additional accounts in the rural healthcare vertical. "The end user's communication and mobility complaints have all but disappeared," says Tracy. "Clinicians are able to reach other clinicians regardless of location, and calls are ringing at the COW. Also, Avaya will release a new version in Spring 2009 for which the facilities will be eligible."