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Georgia Poison Center Case Study

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Case Studies

Georgia Poison Center implements cutting-edge technologies from ShoreTel to optimize call handling and telework opportunities

Growing call volume necessitates upgrade

Georgia Poison Center (GPC) receives calls from doctors, as well as residents, looking for answers. Operational 24x7 and receiving more than 100,000 calls per year, the GPC had outgrown its existing PBX infrastructure.

An expandable, flexible solution was vital

With a move to a new facility and a mounting need to amplify how it manages calls and work mobility, the GPC wanted to reengineer the phone system to better address these issues—stat!

The incumbent AT&T telephone system was no longer meeting the expansion and flexibility requirements of the GPC. An existing call distribution program could not be customized to accommodate the influx of inbound traffic—call agents were limited in how they could route and handle calls and requests. And reliability of the phone infrastructure was a growing concern.

“Our job is to be up and running when a caller needs help. Also, we were looking for a way to empower teleworkers, to enable some staff members to work from the office or from home if credentialed to do so,” says Gaylord Lopez, Pharm. D., DABAT and director of the Georgia Poison Center.

Enlisting the expert help of IT partner StormWood Technologies, the GPC was able to further hone its requisite list of criteria and embark on a rigorous evaluation process of potential VoIP vendors.

To initiate a selection process, the GPC first formed a committee to consider certain metrics, cost savings, and feature sets of major vendors. “One vendor came in over a VoIP line with remote access, hoping to show us the teleworking function—and it wasn’t very good quality. Other solutions were either too complicated or too server-based. Then we discovered ShoreTel’s reliability, simplicity, and price, and knew we had a great fit,” Lopez says.

ShoreTel UC is the prescription for cost savings

The GPC chose a ShoreTel UC solution to revolutionize how the center coordinates call traffic and telework opportunities. For the new facility’s call center, the GPC installed ShoreTel ECC application and ShoreTel IP phones with advanced features and hands-free calling.

“In the beginning of our VoIP journey, we found that the ShoreTel solution was nearly 25 percent less expensive than other vendor solutions we’d considered. Since then, ShoreTel has proven to be most cost-effective and will provide a lower total cost of ownership,” explains Lopez.

ShoreTel Communicator delivers an integrated and simplified approach to managing business communications so that the GPC staff can easily connect and collaborate. Working in concert with ShoreTel Conference Bridge, an OAISYS call recording solution, and a LifeSize video product, ShoreTel Communicator, orchestrates a seamless environment for multimedia communications.

The GPC is the first poison facility to employ chat capabilities. “We want to be responsive to our callers, and some people prefer to use the chat option. When a chat is initiated, there is basic information that comes in from our chatters and we plan to begin integrating that intake data into our medical records. We will never replace our telephone services for callers, and we do respond to emails, but chatting is becoming popular, so we are glad to have implemented that service, too,” he says.

“OUR JOB IS TO BE UP AND RUNNING WHEN A CALLER NEEDS HELP. ALSO, WE WERE LOOKING FOR A WAY TO EMPOWER TELEWORKERS, TO ENABLE SOME STAFF MEMBERS TO WORK FROM THE OFFICE OR FROM HOME IF CREDENTIALED TO DO SO.”

Gaylord Lopez, Pharm. D., DABAT and Director
Georgia Poison Center

With the implementation of its ShoreTel UC solution, the GPC has also successfully implemented its telework program, and is embarking on several new services. Lopez anticipates that the telepresence capabilities already in place for video conferencing will soon be extended to encompass smartphones, webcams, and Skype.

“The ShoreTel UC solution brings together desk phones, mobile phones, and home phones with our applications and new ShoreTel productivity tools—it all channels together to enable our telework offering, support our call center, and more easily share information,” says Lopez. Implementing Enterprise Contact Center for increased productivity

Enterprise Contact Center provides a set of feature-rich tools such as customizable call routing, self-service options, and universal queuing to expedite service. Caller-requested callbacks, outbound campaign functionality, and CRM integration all help to provide greater outreach.

To support the center’s 24x7 operations, ECC relies on the ShoreTel distributed IP architecture with redundancy, hot standby, and no single point of failure for built-in disaster recovery protection. “Because we have reporting capabilities and easy-to-use tools like agent dashboards, we’re able to really look at productivity improvements across the GPC. We use a productivity board that populates in a window on agents’ desktops to show who is on break, who is engaged on calls, those sorts of activities,” Lopez explains.

ShoreTel reliability helps save lives 24x7

“Perhaps the most important attribute is the reliability of the ShoreTel system. It has proved to be operational 24x7. For all of us at the GPC, the ShoreTel system gives us a collective peace of mind knowing that we can always be available when it matters,” Lopez states.

The State of Georgia is taking notice of the strides the GPC has taken to merge technology and poison control services. Each state must have a solution in place to align with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding possible pandemics or other serious outbreaks. Georgia has requested that the GPC take the lead on developing a solution for handling inquiries in such an event. “We submitted a proposal showing how we would be able to handle the majority of these calls, by adding SIP trunks to the current ShoreTel infrastructure and using the ShoreTel auto attendant and interactive voice response features,” Lopez concludes.

“PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTE IS THE RELIABILITY OF THE SHORETEL SYSTEM. IT HAS PROVED TO BE OPERATIONAL 24X7. FOR ALL OF US AT THE GPC, THE SHORETEL SYSTEM GIVES US A COLLECTIVE PEACE OF MIND KNOWING THAT WE CAN ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE WHEN IT MATTERS.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Georgia Poison Center wanted to implement cutting-edge technology to optimize call handling in conjunction with a move to a new facility and to provide options for teleworkers.

SOLUTION:

  • The center swapped out its old AT&T telephone system for a ShoreTel Unified Communication (UC) solution that included ShoreTel IP phones, ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center (ECC), ShoreTel Voice Switches, ShoreTel Communicator, and the ShoreTel Conference Bridge.

BENEFITS:

  • Lower TCO and 25 percent cost savings
  • Intuitive interface eases management
  • Contact Center reporting capabilities
  • Fostered greater community outreach