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Woodlands North Houston Heart Center Case Study

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Case Studies

Woodlands North Houston Heart Center increases call volume by 50% and achieves five-nines reliability with ShoreTel solution

Woodlands North Houston Heart Center

New facility prompts call for new phone system

Moving to a new main facility presented a prime opportunity to replace a traditional and outgrown Toshiba DKT 424 phone system with a new one based on next-generation IP telephony and voice/ data convergence.

Single system to accommodate increasing needs

WNHHC had an obsolete Toshiba phone system that was hardware-driven, unreliable, and very difficult to program. Features such as ACD were add-ons requiring considerable hands-on integration. On the user side, the staff couldn’t do extension dialing or overhead paging across sites, and it was hard to transfer calls.

“You had to access trunk groups, get a dial tone on the other side, and then dial the extension,” says WNHHC administrator John Henderson. “And it was a long-distance call between locations, even though they were only 12 miles apart.” WNHHC wanted a phone system that could streamline communications by offering unlimited ways to direct phone calls.

Meanwhile, the legacy phone system, pressured by the requirements of a growing business, was becoming quite unreliable. One of the third-party maintenance technicians eventually changed jobs and suggested a ShoreTel solution, and WNHHC’s VoIP migration began.

One Multiple-Site Phone System

PBX functions were entrusted to seven ShoreTel switches distributed across WNHHC’s two main facilities. Two ShoreTel T1 switches provide PSTN access to the headquarters, and point-to-point T1 lines connected by Cisco routers link the two sites in a high-speed WAN.

“ShoreTel’s distributed architecture with no single point of failure made it an easy decision,” says Henderson. “Voice communication is a missioncritical application for us, and the ShoreTel system’s ability to deliver five-nines reliability made it stand out from the competition.”

At this first meeting, the ShoreTel system was shown to work with a wide range of analog, digital, and IP phones, and instantly configured and used a number of advanced features. The ShoreTel system showed itself to be a very flexible and scalable solution that was much easier to maintain, manage, and use than the other systems; could be readily customized to meet specific needs; and delivered a lot more bang for the buck.

ShoreTel wins the hearts of many

WNHHC’s staff members are now equipped with ShoreTel IP Phones, and the network administrators have top-of-the-line IP models that support six-line appearances and have a six-line LCD display. With their sleek design and groundbreaking ergonomics, the revolutionary ShoreTel IP phones enhance rather than detract from WNHHC’s high-tech image.

WNHHC’s old phone system was hardware-based and very difficult to manage, upgrade, and expand. Changes involved major programming efforts. In sharp contrast, the ShoreTel phone system is based on softswitch technology, with server and client applications that run on standard Windows platforms. The IT staff does not have to learn a new system to be able to run the ShoreTel network.

The ShoreTel system also comes standard with a lot of built-in functions that competing VoIP platforms offer only as separately purchased options that impose additional integration and configuration overhead. These include ACD, workgroups, and voicemail.

“SHORETEL’S DISTRIBUTED ARCHITECTURE WITH NO SINGLE POINT OF FAILURE MADE IT AN EASY DECISION. VOICE COMMUNICATION IS A MISSION-CRITICAL APPLICATION FOR US, AND THE SHORETEL SYSTEM’S ABILITY TO DELIVER FIVENINES RELIABILITY MADE IT STAND OUT FROM THE COMPETITION.”

John Henderson, Administrator
Woodlands North Houston Heart Center

Another big difference is ShoreTel’s ability to operate as a single phone system across multiple locations, and be managed remotely from a browser-based console. Making configuration changes or moving or adding users—which with the old system typically required a time-consuming and expensive truck roll by third-party maintenance staff—can now be performed immediately from virtually anywhere.

Enhancing productivity and patient services

ShoreTel’s unique approach to IP telephony has enhanced the efficiency and productivity of WNHHC’s professional and administrative staffs. “On the day we went live with the ShoreTel VoIP system, we sat the operator down, and with very
little training at all, she was able to handle more than 1,300 calls that first day. Our old system would have maxed out at 800 to 900 calls,” states Henderson.

But the patients are the main beneficiaries. WNHHC’s patient population is skewed toward the elderly, and communication is a key component of their care. With intelligent call routing that makes use of presence-sensing capabilities and calendar integration, the ShoreTel system ensures that patients get connected quickly and painlessly to the right health care professionals, wherever they happen to be at the moment.

“We pride ourselves on using leading-edge technology to provide our patients with better health care services,” explains Henderson. “The ShoreTel solution, while being very easy to manage, provides advanced capabilities that make our staff more productive and allow us to improve the patient experience.”

Getting more for less

The ShoreTel system’s ease of use and management minimizes training and ongoing support overhead, making it a lot less expensive to operate and maintain than other voice platforms— both IP-based and traditional.

“THE SHORETEL SOLUTION, WHILE BEING VERY EASY TO MANAGE, PROVIDES ADVANCED CAPABILITIES THAT MAKE OUR STAFF MORE PRODUCTIVE AND ALLOW US TO IMPROVE THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE.”

Part of the savings comes from the elimination of truck rolls required by hardware-based management and maintenance. And interoffice calls now ride across the data WAN, bypassing carrier tolls. Also, while the ShoreTel system is handling a higher volume of calls than ever, it does so much more efficiently. Two backup operator positions could be eliminated, enabling a significant reallocation of resources.

“We know firsthand that the ShoreTel system is easy to install and use, and can be implemented without interrupting our business,” concludes Henderson. “It lets you move into a converged future with confidence.

CHALLENGE:

  • When Woodlands North Houston Heart Center (WNHHC) moved to a new main facility, it needed a new IP telephony solution that could span its main and branch facilities, accommodate increasing call volumes, streamline communications, and boost efficiency and productivity.

SOLUTION:

  • A single ShoreTel IP phone system was in the brand-new 50,000-square-foot main facility and provided next-generation voice features transparently to existing branch locations.

BENEFITS:

  • Enhanced call volume handling by 50 percent
  • Delivered 99.999 percent reliability
  • Increased staff productivity
  • Flexibility and ease of use