Healthcare Organizations Turn to Avaya Mobility Solutions to Improve Patient Care and Operations

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - As healthcare costs continue to rise, hospitals around the country are seeking new ways to reduce expenses while delivering improved patient care.  According to Forrester Research , 79 percent of healthcare organizations are addressing these issues by rolling out new applications and services for employees with mobile devices - nearly double the implementation rate of non-healthcare firms.

Many of these organizations are turning to Internet protocol-based mobility solutions that use voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) technology and, in many cases, extend enterprise applications to public cellular networks.

Sierra View District Hospital of Porterville, Calif., Children's Hospital of Central California, and Condell Medical Center of Libertyville, Ill. are three hospitals using Avaya enterprise mobility solutions to address the competing priorities of managing costs and improving service, allowing them to build efficiency into operations, improve responsiveness and enable staffers to spend more time with patients.  

Sierra View District Hospital, a California-based nonprofit community healthcare provider, has adopted a variety of Avaya mobility solutions for its executive and administrative teams. This includes Avaya Unified Communication Center with speech access, an application that lets employees manage business tools by calling a single number and speaking voice commands into the phone. Using speech, employees can listen to and compose emails, check and schedule appointments, and reach contacts from any phone or mobile device.

Speech-enabling these capabilities can help healthcare workers who increasingly rely on mobile devices to manage a broad range of tasks. According to Forrester Research , 87 percent of doctors regularly use their mobile device to manage their contacts (including phone numbers and addresses), while 80 percent use them to keep calendars and appointments.

Kevin Shimamoto, CIO for Sierra View, is one of the many staff members at his hospital benefiting from this application - helping him turn his one-hour commute to the office into productive work time.

"I dial into Avaya Unified Communication Center and am able to get all my voice and email messages read to me before I get to the office," Shimamoto said.  "I can use speech to dial vendors on the east coast, reply to an email with a voicemail message, or use speech to call someone back in response to a voice or email message. I can even record a note to myself that shows up in email when I arrive at the office."

Hospital administrators are using Avaya speech applications to resolve problems and make a positive impact patient care.  For example, if there is an issue in the Intensive Care Unit, a conference can be quickly convened with the head nurse, physician and the patient's family - all by using speech-driven commands.

Another useful Avaya application for the Sierra View team is the Avaya Modular Messaging voicemail solution, which provides "Reach Me/Follow Me" features that allow calls to be forwarded to a worker's cell phone or remote number. Audible caller ID name announcements allow users to decide if they want to take a call or route it back to voicemail - giving them the ability to prioritize and manage their communications wherever they go.

The Children's Hospital Central California is one of the largest pediatric facilities in the nation.   In order to help its 1,000 nurses spend more time serving patients - and less time traveling back and forth to a central workstation - Children's Hospital has equipped them with Avaya IP wireless telephones. This lets nurses make or receive calls as they move throughout the hospital, eliminating the need to return to a central workstation each time they need to contact a doctor, a colleague or a patient's family member.

"Everything for us focuses on patient care," said Joe Egan, telecom manager and network engineer for Children's Hospital.  "If we make an investment, it has to have a direct link to the quality of care we deliver.  By using Avaya IP wireless telephones, our nurses can operate more efficiently and spend more time at a patient's bedside."

The hospital is able to create mobile workgroups that can communicate on demand. This is achieved by combining the "push-to-talk" capabilities of Avaya wireless telephones with the ability to set a specific communication channel.  As a result, teams of employees sharing the same channel can broadcast messages without dialing individual extensions.  For example, a nurse can broadcast a request for assistance in moving a patient by pressing a button, eliminating the need to search for available team members, remember extensions or use the hospital's paging system. Egan said the hospital is evaluating "push-to-talk" capabilities for emergency "Code Blue" calls to let nurses inform colleagues they are on the way—something that the one-way overhead paging system doesn't currently allow.

Children's Hospital also deploys Avaya IP Softphone, a mobility solution that delivers all of the functions of an office telephone on a desktop or laptop computer.  The hospital provides medical coders and transcriptionists with the Softphone, along with their own remote hospital extension, access to voicemail and conferencing capabilities, keeping them connected to the hospital's daily operations even as they work from their home office.

Condell Medical Center, an acute care facility near Chicago, has integrated Avaya IP wireless telephones with its existing nurse call system to improve responsiveness to patients.  When a patient presses the call assistance button, a text message is automatically displayed on the attending nurse's Avaya wireless handset.  Nurses know assistance is needed, no matter where they are in the hospital.  Similarly, Condell staffers can send text messages to members of its Environmental Services team to let them know when a room needs to be cleaned or serviced.

According to Sue Mesmer, communications manager for Condell, Avaya IP wireless telephones with push-to-talk capability are proving especially useful for physicians, nurses and technicians in the emergency room, surgical department and other settings where communication is imperative.  By broadcasting team alerts and getting immediate answers to potentially life-saving questions with the press of a button, they are making a positive impact on patient care.

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