Health group unifies messages

A B.C.-based health organization has started on a path to unify its messaging and voice in the wake of its earlier amalgamations.

In December 2001, the Fraser Health Authority was created through the grouping together of three heath authorities in B.C. Fraser Health Authority services some 1.44 million people in the province and has some 20,000 employees.

In the spring of this year, Fraser Health decided it needed to provide its employees, doctors and managers a unified messaging and voice recognition system in order help them get their jobs done.

According to Quincy Mittertreiner, director of enterprise sales for NEC Unified Solutions Inc. in Vancouver, the amalgamation of the three different health authorities into a single one not only meant bringing together the different groups’ employees and services, but more fundamentally trying to bring together the different messaging and voice solutions being used by the health authorities.

“In those three (health) areas, we had a mixed environment of Nortel, NEC and PBX voicemail and voice-processing systems, (and) we had no unified messaging at the time,” said Jim Taylor, director of network and telecommunications services with Fraser Health Authority in Burnaby, B.C.

Taylor added this mixed environment presented a variety of management and productivity challenges for the new health authority. High on the list of management issues was maintaining an adequate inventory of replacement equipment and solutions.

“Also, (support) staff had to be trained on five different systems instead of a single one,” Taylor said. “And from a senior management perspective there was the issue of not being able to send out broadcast messages because of this lack of a unified messaging platform.”

Taylor said the first challenge in bringing these disparate systems together was to find a network that would tie them together. At first, Fraser Health Authority built a single IP platform throughout the entire organization. That allowed Fraser Authority to connect the platforms together so there would be feature transparency amongst them. The next step is the deployment of NEC’s NEAZMail AD-120, a unified messaging solution that can be accessed by all 20,000 employees in the 140 locations that make up Fraser Health Authority.

Taylor said in addition to the unified messaging infrastructure, Fraser Health Authority and NEC are also going to be rolling out the ScanSoft voice recognition solution that should streamline the authority’s telephone information requests and transactions, and help in speeding up the routing of calls.

“It will be helping us reduce our need for direct in-dial numbers and we will probably be able to save $15,000-$20,000 per month,” Taylor added.

Mittertreiner said this is not the first project NEC has helped Fraser Health Authority on. Fraser Health has been working with NEC since 1999 when the company assisted the health authority in acquiring new telephone gear.

QuickLink: 057779

Related links:

How to manage IP phone installations

Switch to VoIP beefs up messaging

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