Organizations are constantly seeking the best technologies to better coordinate team interactions, enable collaboration and improve mobility. The organizations we work with are seeking solutions that lead to efficient, secure and scalable collaboration tools, and they require a methodology to successfully implement these capabilities. Although organizations have clear objectives in this area, the landscape for collaboration and unified communications is constantly evolving.

To improve our ability to help our clients, we recently brought on Allen Theerasatiankul. He functions as our senior collaboration architect and will aid us in our efforts to improve communication technology for our clients.

Allen has worked as an IT systems engineer for over 15 years and has designed and deployed many unified communication systems, ranging from large distributed call clusters to small single location VoIP installs. Partners he has worked with in the past include Memorial Health Care Systems, Cambia Health Solutions, Appalachian Regional Healthcare and Westfield, LLC.

Because of his background and specialized skills regarding collaboration architecture, I wanted to post some highlights of a recent discussion I had with Allen. The conversation covered his thoughts on collaboration in the current IT environment. By sharing this dialog, I hope others can benefit.

Our discussion

Robert: From your experience, can you tell me some examples of how the collaboration technologies and unified communication solutions you’ve implemented provided value?

Allen: Several projects I worked on had a positive impact on clinician efficiency and patient care. For example, we integrated a unified communications platform with a nurse call system that enabled nurses to be more responsive to patient needs. With this, we incorporated the nurses’ wireless IP phones so that alerts and requests would be routed properly to the on-call nurse. This led to improved patient satisfaction and decreased overall response times.

My team also implemented a telemedicine solution based on Cisco Call Manager that enabled doctors to examine patients via video conferencing. This enabled the hospital to see more patients that needed non-urgent medical care, leaving onsite doctors to focus on patients that needed more urgent care. This also enabled specialists that were remote to be contacted and involved in the patient’s assessment. We connected the correct resource efficiently and faster with the telemedicine solution.

Another initiative involved integrating an emergency response system with a unified communications platform for a hospital clinic. This enabled doctors and nurses to send emergency pages, texts and overhead paging announcements to all doctors in case there was a code blue or emergency. It also enabled them to contact emergency responders and law enforcement with a touch of a button from their handsets or soft phone client.

I also worked on projects that improved client productivity. For example, we implemented a time card application on the IP phone based on Cisco Call Manager. We found that staff productivity increased because clocking in and out was more convenient. Rather than walking to the nearest time clock kiosk and waiting in line to clock in and out, they were able to do that on their phone.

Robert: Great, I really appreciate all of those examples. What are the technical and organizational hurdles that had to be overcome?

Allen: Integrating different systems is a huge hurdle because there are many different stakeholders. You have IT, the unified communications vendor(s) and healthcare professionals that have different processes and workflows. We were able to have the groups successfully collaborate by translating IT capabilities into enablers of healthcare workflow processes. This created a very successful project and stakeholders met their project goals.

Another critical success factor is to make sure healthcare workers understand the boundaries of the technology and how to use it efficiently. For example, with the nurse call system implementation, we discussed with the healthcare staff how their old system worked and what were some of the shortcomings. We then sat with IT to understand the limitations of their current infrastructure before we could implement a solution.

Once everything was documented with the help of the healthcare professionals, we created a new call notification workflow process document. Once this document was finalized, we worked with IT to implement the proper configurations to support the new call notification flow and established a training and implementation support program to ensure proper implementation and utilization of this new capability.

After a trial period and a few system tweaks from healthcare suggestions, we went live with the system. The biggest hurdle during this implementation was creating a call flow that satisfied nurses and doctors while fitting into IT’s standards.

Robert: This resonates with many CIOs working to update their end of life communication systems. They are struggling with constrained budgets and need to justify the cost of the next wave of collaboration and unified communication tools to their organizations.

Allen: Yes, that’s where the technical architect and project management team plays an integral role. We are able to work with different stakeholders to identify business problems. We also provide technology leadership and guidance on where the industry is heading and how to utilize collaboration and unified communications to provide value for the organization as well as the end-user.

Robert: Thank you for your time Allen.

Closing words

Many first generation unified communication technologies are reaching end of life, and numerous organizations are looking to transition their legacy telecommunication voice systems with limited IT budgets. In this atmosphere, it is essential that IT leadership is able to justify investments and implement unified communication solutions that help an organization better meet strategic objectives.

It is also important to establish and direct a collaborative project management environment that defines success for the organization, the communications service provider and the IT team.

Lastly, a critical success factor is to establish processes for training, support and documenting measurable implementation results of your technology investment.

T2 Tech Group is proud to have Allen and other resources on board who have had repeated success in these areas. For more information on how to join our team, visit our careers page.