Remaining in communication with homebound patients was critical to the home healthcare company, but it was using disparate phone systems of different makes and models, which were prone to hardware and software failures. In the past, CTI had supplied some temporary solutions and was frequently called to repair the problems, with the customer paying emergency dispatch fees costing approximately $250 per call. "For four years, we provided a temporary Band-Aid," says Aaron Kane, CEO of CTI. Additionally, each of the locations relied on its own after-hours call center, which cost the healthcare company close to six figures annually. "The combination of failing systems and mounting expenses was enough to convince the customer a new solution was in order," says Kane.
He suggested connecting all 86 branches together with a single VoIP solution that can be remotely monitored and repaired. VoIP service allows calls to traverse the internet and eliminates per-minute phone rates. Based upon discussions with the healthcare company, CTI chose to install a VoIP solution from Avaya for its scalability and ability to connect multiple sites together to appear as one big system. The solution included Avaya Aura software 5.2 as the company's headquarters and an S8300LSP processor that resides inside the Avaya G450 media gateway at the remote sites.
Pretesting Eliminates Deployment Delays
Selecting the right VoIP service was the easy part. Installing the system at 86 locations would prove a bit more daunting. Kane was planning on having his 384 field technicians install three to five systems per week until all 86 sites were up and running with the VoIP. "We knew we'd have to program the system, ship it to the location, install it, train personnel, and go live, leaving us no room for error," says Kane. "If a product was shipped and found to be defective upon setup, it would set us back at least one week for that particular install."
That's when CTI turned to its distributor, Jenne Distributors. After explaining the time challenges, Jenne agreed to test and pre-configure the units before shipping direct to the healthcare customer for CTI. This saved three to five days per install. "I don't know how many systems were found defective on Jenne's end, but thanks to the distributor's help, none of the systems showed up defective at any one of the 86 locations," he says.
Before the VoIP install could be completed, a Windstream multiprotocol label switch (MPLS) had to be deployed at each location. (A single MPLS infrastructure is a private intranet that is unique to a company and directs data from one network node to the next.)
"We installed the MPLS at the most challenging sites first and then by geographic location," explains Kane. "The MPLS is essential in VoIP because it ensures the calls remain secure, which is especially important in the healthcare arena," says Kane. Once the MPLS was installed, the new Avaya VoIP infrastructure was put in and the old landline's infrastructure removed.
Now, with the new VoIP system, if a patient in Dallas calls the Dallas office and no one answers, the call is automatically routed to the global call center in Illinois.
Ultimately, the entire installation took about 10 months and earned the VAR $1.3 million. Kane is convinced that the implementation process could have lasted up to five months longer if not for the distributor's help. Going forward, the healthcare company is interested in a more advanced call center, taking advantage of interactive voice response (IVR). Here, patients would call the company, use a patient ID to log in to the call system, and ask questions about their health or confirm appointments. "Patients could even enter in their vitals, and if their number falls below a certain threshold, the system would alert a caregiver to follow up with the patient," says Kane.