Case Study: St. Elizabeth Physicians Heals Communications Ills With Help of ATC, West IP

The Client. St. Elizabeth Physicians (SEP) is the multi-specialty physician organization of St. Elizabeth Healthcare, one of the oldest, largest, and most respected medical providers in the Greater Cincinnati area. SEP was formed through the merger of two large health care providers and runs 82 locations including some in Kentucky and Indiana with 290 doctors.

The Challenge. With so many satellite offices, SEP was using a number of different types of phone systems that came with different contracts. Mark Hoover, SEP’s IT director, knew there had to be a better approach that would not only cut costs but improve patients’ calling access.

The Solution. SEP needed a thorough telecom audit to determine what existed at each location within the groups network. So, the organization teamed with Advanced Technology Consulting (ATC), of Mason, Ohio.

The business case for engaging with ATC was clear,” said Glenn A. Loomis, CEO of SEP. “We needed a more comprehensive strategy when evaluating our phone system and our voice, data and Internet services. ATC swiftly identified areas of opportunity.”

Over the course of some months, as part of a two-year contract, ATC visited every site, reviewing every telecom contract and network-related component including lines, cabling, demarcation points, handsets, local service, long-distance service and data/Internet service.

Two key discoveries were as follows:

  • NEC phone systems, the backbone of the SEP network, comprised only 20 percent of the phones in SEP’s offices the other 80 percent, acquired through M&A, came from a variety of other manufacturers.
  • Of the existing NEC gear, 86 percent was reaching end of life finding parts and getting technical support was going to be difficult.

Once the auditing process was complete, ATC kicked off the project’s next phase by surveying all 1,200 SEP employees. The consultancy wanted to conduct a business-needs analysis so it could make the right recommendations for the entire organization. Once the survey was complete, ATC and SEP sent out proposal requests to vendors and had them provide on-site demonstrations.

Ultimately, SEP and ATC chose West IP Communications for its hosted, unified platform. From there, ATC worked on an aggressive six-month deployment timeline that included upgrading each SEP location to fiber connectivity for increased network speed and the ability to accommodate more bandwidth as future needs required.

The Result. SEP has seen a number of results since teaming with ATC and West IP. For example, there’s interconnectivity among offices and call center agents have a real-time dashboard that provides statistics and alerts, user call status and transfer capability. If a call is abandoned, the agent can easily call the patient back.

But one really important improvement for SEP has been West IP’s oversight of the phone system. This frees SEP’s IT staff to focus on critical projects rather than system maintenance and support.

Another crucial result has been the launch of “Your Health Line,” SEP’s toll-free number that addresses general patient questions and handles new patient visits. The new VoIP network make it easier for patients to find providers, offices or departments, and calls are being answered more quickly. SEP receives more than 45,000 calls per week and a recent study showed that the West IP phone system has cut average patient hold times in half.

Finally, another big gain has come in the form of a disaster recovery plan. Reliability is critical in the health care sector and SEP now has backup power and network solutions. Thanks to ATC and West IP, SEP uses multiple servers in multiple states so each location can redirect calls to another office if a disaster occurs. If the second office goes down, an answering service is deployed with access to doctors on call.

Through the entire process ATC worked closely with our team to make sure this project was successful,” Loomis said. We relied on … the team at ATC to make sure this project completed as quickly as possible and to guide us on features that will help us serve our patients more efficiently.”

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