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ShoreTel IP telephony is right voice prescription for healthcare organizations

Coos County Family Health Services, Penobscot Community Health Care, and Raleigh Medical Group use ShoreTel VoIP to improve patient care
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SUNNYVALE, CA, September 12, 2006 - ShoreTel, Inc., the fastest growing IP PBX worldwide and the leader in customer satisfaction, today announced that its award-winning IP telephony system is proving to be the right prescription for voice throughout the healthcare industry. Coos County Family Health Services, Penobscot Community Health Care, and Raleigh Medical Group exemplify a growing number of healthcare organizations using ShoreTel VoIP to improve patient care.

ShoreTel's uniquely distributed architecture enables a very flexible and scalable voice system that can accommodate rapid growth and crisis-related traffic peaks. Unmatched reliability, manageability and ease of use result in efficient operations and minimal demands on the IT staff, and extensive call logging and reporting maintain histories of interactions with patients and increase accountability. Mostly importantly, ShoreTel's workgroup capabilities and intelligent call routing connect patients to the right person quickly.

No industry puts as much demand on telecommunications as healthcare. Doctors and nurses are highly mobile, patients come and go, and lives-not just deals-are at stake.

"Good customer service in healthcare is not just beneficial-it can be critical," said Sally Wheeler, Director of Information Services at Coos County Family Health Services [CCFHS]. "The ShoreTel system is much more intuitive than a regular phone system, which makes it a lot harder to make a mistake and perhaps disconnect someone, which is unacceptable in our industry."

Better customer service for patients

Healthcare is dependent on immediate action, and the last thing patients calling in during a crisis need is to end up in voicemail. That used to happen all too often with Raleigh Medical Group's old phone system when severe weather, flu epidemics, drug recalls, or other such events caused sudden spikes in call volumes.

Today ShoreTel's uniquely distributed architecture and flexible call control ensure that most calls coming in to Raleigh Medical Group get answered by a person rather than voicemail, even during crisis-induced traffic peaks. Calls are transparently balanced across sites, maximizing the use of trunk resources. And operators can see the call history of each patient and the transfer history of each call, as well as which extensions are free and which are busy. The end result is timely and accurate call routing.

"We want the ability to have a human being answer every one of the calls coming into Raleigh Medical Group," said Cynthia Cox, the group's practice administrator. "ShoreTel enables our operators to do that, and to handle more call volume, too."

Caring for patients, not phone systems

ShoreTel's intuitive management and user interfaces make the system extremely easy to implement, administer, and use. Little training is required before administrators and users can start exploiting even the advanced features. This means employees spend less time navigating complex phone systems, and more time performing critical CCFHS tasks.

"ShoreTel beats the competition soundly on ease of use and administration, and has fewer ongoing support costs," said Sally Wheeler, director of information systems for CCFHS. "We can easily support ShoreTel in-house, which saves us both time and money." The browser-based management console lets administrators make moves, adds, and changes in an instant from anywhere, even from home.

Similarly, end users enjoy 4-digit and by-name dialing, as well as the productivity benefits of unified messaging. The ShoreTel Personal Call Manager integrates tightly with Microsoft Outlook directories and calendars, enabling employees to place calls with a click on a directory entry, and to use calendar information for handling incoming calls.

ShoreTel's extensive call logging and reporting capabilities also make it easy to get at the root of call-handling problems and respond appropriately to any patient or employee complaints. This level of accountability is particularly important in the healthcare industry, where mishandled calls can be so critical.

In addition, ShoreTel puts to rest any lingering concerns healthcare organizations have about the reliability and voice quality of IP telephony. "We've found the voice quality of the ShoreTel system to be very good, and we are happy we made the switch to VoIP," summed up Wheeler.

Powerful workgroup features foster better teamwork

ShoreTel's powerful workgroup features are helping healthcare organizations increase efficiency and enhance patient service. Any number of workgroups can be easily established and maintained, and individuals can belong to more than one. Calls are automatically routed to the next available person, and skills-based routing can be implemented. And ShoreTel's rich reporting capabilities help organizations to measure call volumes, and to make any necessary staffing and scheduling changes.

Penobscot Community Health Care's healthcare professionals are broken into teams that operate as small practices, so PCHC makes extensive use of ShoreTel's very flexible workgroups. People can easily be moved from one group to another or put in multiple groups, and an entire group can be patched into another workgroup as required.

Each workgroup has its own customized auto-attendant, with each practice tailoring menu options to meet any special needs of its patient base. For example, younger patients might be quite comfortable navigating through menus, while older patients might still have rotary-dial phones. The ShoreTel system can be set up to react differently, based on the population characteristics of each practice.

"With the ShoreTel system, a practice is drawn closer together-particularly if the members are spread across several buildings," said Doug Kingsbury, PCHC's CIO. "ShoreTel encourages more communication, and fosters better social dynamics."

About Coos County Family Health Services

Coos County Family Health Services is a full-service healthcare center serving people in New Hampshire's Coos County and upper Grafton County as well as neighboring towns in Vermont and Maine. A non-profit corporation, CCFHS provides family-centered care to people of all ages and incomes.

About Penobscot Community Health Care

Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor, Maine, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing all community members with access to comprehensive, quality healthcare services, regardless of their ability to pay. Founded in 1997, PCHC is one of the largest Federally Qualified Health Centers in New England, and its practitioners will treat more than one third of the population in the greater Bangor region this year.

About Raleigh Medical Group

Founded in 1973, Raleigh Medical Group is an independent multi-specialty group of healthcare practitioners in Raleigh, N.C. With more than 30,000 patients in its active database, Raleigh Medical Group is the largest privately owned internal medicine practice in the area.

About ShoreTel, Inc.

ShoreTel is the fastest growing IP PBX company worldwide and the leader in customer satisfaction. The company has shipped its groundbreaking solutions since 1998 and continues to outpace the rapidly expanding VoIP market with technological advances and sales that are doubling year over year. ShoreTel voice systems are designed to make businesses smarter, setting new standards for usability and manageability while reducing telecommunications costs. A uniquely distributed architecture extends enterprise-class voice services to every office and outpost, keeping employees fully connected wherever they go. A select, worldwide group of channel partners provide top-notch service and support. For more information, visit http://www.shoretel.com/ or call 1-877-80SHORE