U.S. healthcare providers are in a bind. On one hand, they need to invest in staff development, modern facilities and the latest clinical technologies in order to improve delivery of quality patient care. On the other, making investments is difficult in an era of declining reimbursements. Facing this situation, a nonprofit healthcare system in a major U.S. city turned to Black Box Network Services for help cutting its operating expenses. Black Box augmented the existing IT staff with personnel to run and support every aspect of their telecommunications department. This freed the IT team to focus on more strategic projects, such as designing the organization’s future architecture. As a result of new efficiencies and capabilities offered by Black Box’s staff augmentation services, the customer stands to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual costs. It plans to invest these savings to expand and improve patient care.
In one of the nation’s largest cities, this metro healthcare system delivers comprehensive clinical services to more than 60,000 patients per year. Almost 10,000 employees and 900 physicians staff its four hospitals and a growing network of more than 20 community clinics. Annual emergency room visits number almost 125,000 per year. To meet these demands, timely information access and effective communications are critical. Over a decade ago, the healthcare system was among the first in the U.S. to deploy an electronic medical record (EMR) system. Much refined since, it helps clinicians get patient data faster, while reducing data-entry errors. But, ironically, as far ahead as it was in early adoption of EMR, the healthcare system was just as far behind in putting advanced communications to work.
The existing communications infrastructure was comprised of 40 separate, premise-based TDM and IP PBX phone systems from several vendors. Each phone system also required separate maintenance, repairs and spares. Worst of all, most of this equipment was nearing end-of-life. For IT, the risk of doing nothing grew greater each day. At the same time, the healthcare system was adding a neighborhood clinic every three months to its network of community healthcare centers. But deploying connectivity and communications in each new clinic became a critical-path issue for an understaffed IT team. With insurance and government reimbursements falling, executive management expected IT to find ways to cut costs both in clinical and back-office settings. At the same time, it wanted IT to help clinicians be more efficient and productive, without compromising the quality of patient care. If anything, patient care should be improved.
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