Vendor Spotlight: Amcom Software

Communication Challenges – Amcom Software Solutions

Amcom Software provides the communication backbone for the hospital.The hospital call center world, while never static, has seen significant technology changes and improvements over recent months and years. A look at trends affecting hospital operations shows that the landscape will continue to shift, and call center management and staff will continue to be challenged to prove and improve their department’s value to their organizations. As one of the leading innovators in the industry, Amcom Software provides ways for hospital call centers to meet the challenges and opportunities these trends present.

The Challenge to Reduce Costs and Increase Efficiency: The need to become more efficient, more effective, and less costly– to help meet the ever-increasing cost pressures faced by all healthcare providers– is a challenge both familiar and well understood. This is made more difficult as call volumes increase and technological sophistication becomes a given within the industry. The opportunity for improvement is made even more complex as patients demand and receive a stronger role in their healthcare decisions, better communication at all points in their care– and at the same time, ask that healthcare costs decline.

The answers to many of these challenges can be found in fully integrated communications systems. These connect patient information, staff scheduling systems, multiple facilities, and communications networks via easy-to-use, flexible, cost-efficient call center operations. Amcom’s integrated suites of call center, emergency management, and critical alert communications solutions are broader, more effective, and completely integrated. Amcom solutions quickly connect with employee and patient records, on-call scheduling, public safety, and other systems to provide accurate, timely communications connections via PBX, VoIP, or wireless networks. Information can flow quickly to the right people, at the right time, via whatever device they choose for a given situation.

The recent addition of Commtech Wireless to Amcom’s portfolio gives customers the ability to connect critical data sources, such as nurse call alarms and patient monitors, to the right people via their preferred communication devices. Commtech also provides industry-leading paging infrastructure and a full line of pagers. They even offer waiting-room “coaster” pagers for the mutual convenience of staff, as well as patients and their families. Moreover, to ensure cost-effective implementations, Amcom’s customer support teams work quickly to achieve rock-solid installations and flawless execution of mission-critical communication strategies.

Expanding Technology: The industry is also experiencing an unprecedented trend toward expanding technology. VoIP, wireless, UC, and mobile Web are all terms virtually unheard in the hospital environment until recently. Add to that the concept of integrating communications technology with critical alert and monitoring equipment and on-call and staff scheduling functions, as well as nurse-call and emergency management systems, and a new concept of the growing importance of hospital communications capabilities emerges.

Many of these technologies, managed by Amcom Software and connectivity solutions, are enabling customers, such as Goshen General Hospital in Goshen, Ind., to achieve dramatic results in the way they respond to life-threatening situations. Goshen has reduced their door to balloon time — the time it takes to get a heart attack patient from ER arrival to surgical-suite catherization — from one hundred twenty-nine minutes to only seventy-one — well below the AHA/ACC goal of ninety minutes. Similar improvements, based on better communications and the planning tools available from Amcom Software, are helping save lives, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs at hospitals and emergency rooms around the world.

The Growth of Call Center Automation: The healthcare industry is trending toward automation of communication centers because it is the key to strategies focusing on cost savings, productivity, and operator performance. Healthcare institutions also automate to reduce abandoned calls, increase speed of answer, improve operator morale, reduce operator fatigue, and provide Web-based communication. They see automation as a way to consolidate operations, reduce costs, and decrease the number of operator-assisted calls. Recent industry data, for instance, shows that within the next five years, eighty-five percent of health care providers plan to improve their communication centers, with fifty-three percent planning to automate.

Consider the example of Emory University and Emory Healthcare, which first installed computer telephony integration in 2002. Emory’s medical network in Atlanta serves 11,600 students and 2,700 faculty members, as well as the public, through its nationally renowned hospitals and clinics. Emory’s results have been nothing short of exceptional. Amcom call center software allows Emory’s communication staff to more easily and quickly page employees, forward calls, schedule events, and handle growing call volume.

Emory was able to reduce staffing levels in their call center by nearly fifty percent, while creating new positions to provide analysis and planning that have dramatically improved their call-handling results. They have decreased on-call schedule production time and increased their ability to prepare those schedules further into the future. The center can schedule all activities of its individual staff members, from meals and breaks to training, in addition to coverage for other departments.

The call center now produces much more accurate call data. Armed with this knowledge, Emory’s communication center maximizes operator efficiencies during high call times and assigns communication specialists to development and projects during slow times. Despite fewer specialists, the new technology has actually led to a decrease in operator fatigue while improving overall performance.

The Emergency Management Challenge: Hospitals and other healthcare institutions are also realizing the benefits of preparing for emergencies in their own environments. From fires and other threats, to health emergencies among the thousands of workers, patients, and guests on site each day, effective notification that enables safe, orderly handling of emergencies is a significant part of achieving HICS (Hospital Incident Command System) plan goals.

Additionally, quick identification of the source of an emergency call for fast action by emergency responders is also gaining an increased profile within the hospital environment. Improved handling of life-threatening situations is made possible by Amcom Software’s notification, E911, and emergency management solutions. One New York hospital– a large provider in the Yale University Health network– implemented Amcom’s E911 and e.Notify solutions after EMTs had a difficult time locating a person who had dialed 911 from a hospital room. That person survived, despite the difficulty in finding him, but the hospital quickly recognized the issue created by the use of a PBX system that couldn’t provide the exact location of an emergency call.

The Profit Center Trend: As communications teams find they are able to handle additional call traffic, they are moving toward actually becoming a for-profit service working for the benefit of other healthcare organizations. Increasing numbers of hospital call centers now leverage their operator team and technology, as well as their unique expertise in the healthcare field, to provide knowledgeable answering and messaging services to doctor’s offices, clinics, and other healthcare providers in their area. Thanks to the flexibility of their Amcom software, they can answer calls as their clients wish, including customized greetings and forwarding or messaging instructions.

Like the many customers already enjoying the benefits of Amcom Software’s solutions, medical organizations can depend on Amcom’s speed, accuracy, and productivity to manage mission-critical, day-to-day, emergency, and event-driven communications. Amcom Software’s advanced solutions for call center communications, emergency management, wireless messaging middleware, and paging infrastructure are used by thousands of leading healthcare organizations. Amcom’s acquisitions of Commtech Wireless and SDC Solutions, along with the additions of Xtend Communications and Telident E911 Solutions, further solidify the company’s market leadership.

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[From the April/May 2009 issue of AnswerStat magazine]