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Dearborn County Hospital integrates open communications system to boost patient care

Siemens Communications : 16 January, 2008  (New Product)
For Dearborn County Hospital in southeast Indiana, USA, efficient yet responsive medical care depends on effective communication among doctors, staff, patients and patient families.
To boost patient care levels Dearborn County Hospital in southeast Indiana, USA, has deployed an advanced IP- based HiPath unified communications platform from Siemens Communications, which was orchestrated and installed by Black Box Network Services, a leading US communications integrator and authorised Siemens HiPath reseller.

Dearborn County Hospital of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, USA, has a workforce of approximately 800 employees, and more than 115 physicians are on staff. As part of a major capital expansion that would add a new patient tower to the facility, Dearborn County Hospital decided to explore an upgrade to its wireline, TDM-based PBX communications system.

'We recognised that many communications advances had occurred over the past few years, and we wanted to see how they might help us advance the quality and efficiency of our patient care,' said Albert Mathews, assistant director of information systems and project manager, Dearborn County Hospital.

After talking with a number of vendors, the hospital issued a request for proposal (RFP) to expand its traditional communications environment with a hybrid TDM/IP PBX solution, enabling the use of IP telephony while preserving the existing wiring infrastructure to save costs. Mathews also wanted to use IP communications to integrate the hospital's physician offices and outpatient facilities into a virtual hospital-wide system. The goal was to unify communications as well as centralise system management for easier administration and lower telecommunications expenses overall.

Siemens and Black Box listened to Dearborn County Hospital's needs and realised it had an opportunity - not only to unify its wireline communications but also to enhance its emergency notification capabilities along with the addition of a new wireless infrastructure. To accomplish all of this, the solution had to provide IP-based communications, integrate with its existing TDM infrastructure and incorporate third-party, best-of-breed offerings.

'Siemens and Black Box truly worked as a seamless team,' said Mathews. 'They helped us understand that unified communications truly means open communications, and they broadened the original scope of the RFP to enhance our capabilities while introducing the benefits of increased mobility, efficiency, collaboration and responsiveness to our patients. The director of patient care services was particularly interested in learning how these new capabilities can aid in our patient care.'

Although five other vendors bid on the RFP, Dearborn County Hospital chose the Siemens HiPath solution, including:

- Siemens HiPath 4000 system with support for over 700 digital stations, 600 analogue stations, 60 IP station channels, and Primary Rate Interface trunks, as well as HiPath Xpressions system, enabling unified messaging for users.

- Siemens HiPath Wireless portfolio, a wireless LAN solution for fixed mobile convenience including wireless handsets, campus controllers and wireless access points with external antennas. The solution is hosted from the hospital's Data Centre, serving the entire facility and potentially serving remote locations.

- Impact Technologies' DAKS Alerting and Messaging Solution, a mission critical application that will enhance emergency notification by broadcasting information to hospital staff for improved responsiveness.

Steve Anderson, vice president of operations and sales, Black Box Network Services, said Siemens provided exceptional support from start to finish, from helping with the bid to product demonstration and consultation on wireless LAN implementation.

'Siemens was always there for us,' Anderson said. 'If we needed an assist, small or large, we could call for support and receive Siemens' expert advice throughout the installation process.'

Mathews is most satisfied with the hospital's new unified communications system and the fixed-mobile convenience it brings doctors, staff, patients and their families. 'We've only scratched the surface when it comes to the possibilities of our new communications infrastructure,' Mathews said.

'For example, the HiPath Wireless solution lets physicians who use electronic medical records access those files onsite. It also allows patients and visitors to communicate with loved ones, access educational and entertainment resources, and keep up with work activities - all of the things they would normally do in the course of a day on their computer at home or work.'

'This is an excellent example of how a mid-sized, independent hospital can cost-effectively improve its ability to communicate, operate and ultimately provide better patient care by using Siemens HiPath open communications architecture,' said Jeffrey Forbes, vice president, Healthcare Solutions, Siemens Communications.

'Not only has the solution set helped unify hospital communications, but it has also allowed the integration of their emergency notification and messaging systems. With a more integrated infrastructure, they can now unlock the potential for greater collaboration, productivity and efficiency, all of which can come together to improve patient care.'
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