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Penobscot Community Health Care Case Study

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Case Studies

Penobscot Community Health trades PBX for ShoreTel VoIP to improve operations and customer service

Penobscot Community Health Care

Growing pains

Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) had a Comdial PBX-based telephone system that was scalable. Rather than doing piecemeal additions, the organization decided to look at new alternatives.

Upgrade needed to accommodate rapid growth

PCHC grew more than 600 percent, going from a 40-employee organization to more than 250 employees, and its Comdial PBX-based telephone system was not easily scalable. In addition, PCHC wanted to begin integrating its telephony system with the network, including tying the phone system to a wireless network that allows doctors to have mobile access to patient information via handheld devices, and ShoreTel was capable of this type of integration.

PCHC determined that Voice over IP (VoIP) was the way to go, and established a short list of vendors to consider, including Comdial for its VoIP offering, NEC, and ShoreTel. Placing priority on ease of installation, the ability to integrate with many different technologies, scalability, flexibility, and modularity, PCHC chose ShoreTel. “We really liked the fact that ShoreTel was going to be easy to integrate into our existing system, and we wouldn’t have to rip out all of our equipment to accommodate the change,” says Doug Kingsbury, CIO for PCHC.

With the help of its Massachusetts-based integration partner, ShoreTel provided PCHC with a comprehensive VoIP telephone system, including ShoreTel Voice Switches for the organization’s six locations throughout Maine and ShoreTel IP telephones. The implementation took just three days.

ShoreTel flexibility enables effective and efficient patient care

One of the most popular features is the ShoreTel workgroup, which organizes various providers into teams acting as small medical practices. The ShoreTel system also enables workgroup supervisors to train new employees faster, to ensure agents are delivering consistent service, and to obtain a comprehensive view of how calls are being handled by each agent. Performance and statistical information provided by the system give PCHC an overview of how each workgroup is performing and what needs to be done for further improvement.

“We like the flexibility of managing our workgroups as separate entities and changing them on the fly as necessary,” says Kingsbury. “This is a big benefit, and goes back to ShoreTel’s ease of use and the ability to administer the entire system locally.”

In addition to workgroup functionality, ShoreTel’s Auto-Attendant provides PCHC with 24-hour automated call answering and routing to improve service for inbound callers, which is crucial for a healthcare organization. Outgoing prompts can be customized and linked to the time of day and/or day of week and even tailored to workgroups. Callers are greeted by an auto-attendant that directs their calls to the right person. This self-help solution means employees can spend their time on critical healthcare tasks rather than answering calls intended for another individual.

“We probably have more than 15 workgroups now, and callers reach each one by choosing an option through the auto-attendant,” explains Kingsbury. “We also give callers the option of talking to an operator, which is what some people prefer. The flexibility of the ShoreTel system allows us to manage and meet the specific needs of each healthcare practice effectively and efficiently.”

“WE LIKE THE FLEXIBILITY OF MANAGING OUR WORKGROUPS AS SEPARATE ENTITIES AND CHANGING THEM ON THE FLY AS NECESSARY. THIS IS A BIG BENEFIT.”

Doug Kingsbury, CIO
Penobscot Community Health

Higher productivity and customer care With the ShoreTel system in place, all PCHC employees are now on the same phone and voicemail system, using four-digit dialing to reach employees at either location and even dialing coworkers by name.

ShoreTel Personal Call Manager gives users the equivalent of a desktop PBX—a powerful, all-purpose tool for managing voice communications. With it, employees can quickly type in a name, bring up a number, and make calls from local online directories—all with the click of a mouse, right from the desktop.

ShoreTel’s reporting features are also a hit. “The management reporting capabilities of the ShoreTel system allow us to make instant changes to our system and alter how we do business on the fly,” says Kingsbury. “We’re able to look at call volumes and utilization, and determine if problems are due to how we have the system configured or due to human error. It’s nice to have the actual data from the phone system to make immediate changes to improve things.”

PCHC uses ShoreTel Director, a browser-based management interface that provides easy access to the system from anywhere on the network. Adding a new user is as simple as clicking on “add new” and entering the user’s name, which automatically updates the centralized database and the rest of the ShoreTel switches. The entire process takes just seconds.

“It’s so easy to manage moves, adds, and changes, and we can manage the ShoreTel system from anywhere on our network,” states Kingsbury. “While the ShoreTel system is flexible, it’s also foolproof. If a wrong change is made to a workgroup or a user’s configuration, it can be quickly undone. It’s imperative that the system is running correctly in the healthcare industry.” PCHC communications have an excellent prognosis

PCHC is happy with its decision to go with ShoreTel. “While we haven’t done any type of return on investment calculations, I know that over time, savings will be reflected in our staffing model,” says Kingsbury. “We are also utilizing our trunks to their fullest potential, managing them as pooled resources. We’re able to do that because of all the data ShoreTel provides.”

In the near future, there are plans to integrate the organization’s in-house patient databases to allow in-depth information to pop up as soon as a patient calls. “We specifically wanted a system that would allow us to do this level of integration, and ShoreTel is it,” concludes Kingsbury. “ShoreTel provides everything we need – modular design, scalability, ease of management. It is the perfect fit.”

“WE SPECIFICALLY WANTED A SYSTEM THAT WOULD ALLOW US TO DO THIS LEVEL OF INTEGRATION, AND SHORETEL IS IT,” SAYS KINGSBURY. “SHORETEL PROVIDES EVERYTHING WE NEED – MODULAR DESIGN, SCALABILITY, EASE OF MANAGEMENT. IT IS THE PERFECT FIT.”

CHALLENGE:

  • Penobscot Community Health Care was growing rapidly and its old Comdial telephone system could not keep up with the organization’s increasing demands.

SOLUTION:

  • ShoreTel provided a comprehensive VoIP solution that included ShoreTel Voice Switches to ShoreTel IP telephones and the ShoreTel Director management package.

BENEFITS:

  • Four-digit dialing connects users at six locations
  • Robust features enhance user productivity
  • Significant cost savings
  • Simplified management and system unification