Startel Corporation: Technology and Solutions Provider for Healthcare Contact Centers

Startel Corporation, located in Irvine, California, was founded in 1980 and is a leading creator and provider of integrated software products and professional services, offering comprehensive communications and performance measurement solutions to the medical, healthcare, and university markets. Startel has been providing comprehensive communications solutions for over 30 years and continues to deliver off-the-shelf and customized systems and applications.

Startel Professional Services also offers education and training in standard or customized formats through on-site, Web-based, or regularly scheduled Startel education center classes located in Irvine, CA. Additional services include custom software development solutions, third party integration services (i.e. Cisco, Avaya), consulting services, implementation/installation services, and 7/24/365 support.

Startel software and professional services solutions are designed to deliver one or more of the following results: maximize return on investment (ROI), reduce cost, increase customer satisfaction, and enhance employee morale.

“New” Open Soft Switch Platform: The Startel soft switch platform, newly designed and built from the ground up during the last three years, utilizes the latest advancements in software development tempered by Startel’s 30 years of experience providing healthcare solutions. The Startel soft switch platform uses an open architecture approach, with standard APIs and protocols, offering healthcare organizations a powerfully integrated set of applications to manage their contact centers cost effectively.

While most hospitals utilize standard telephony switches offered by large multinational vendors, specific reporting and management tools offered by these vendors are often a one size fits all approach. “Big box” vendors offer limited reporting, management, and functional capability with their pure PBX switches, much to the chagrin of serious healthcare professionals attempting to manage the efficiencies and growth of their business. Some healthcare specific vendors have adapted to this environment by merely providing a CTI application that interplays with existing switches.

Startel’s approach is to offer either a CTI application approach or a fully functional automatic call distributor (ACD) capable 100 percent software switch. The new Startel soft switch platform can fill in the gaps for healthcare professionals looking for more functionality than what a mere PBX switch can offer, even in combination with a CTI application. Some examples of added functionality available from Startel’s open soft switch platform are: real-time detailed reporting, multiple ACD options, queue building, call flow design, a real-time dashboard to manage staff deployment, operator scorecards for on-going training, answer with a smile™, meet me paging, and scheduled delivery of real-time performance based reports to stake holders throughout the organization.

Integration Simplicity:  By connecting with existing switches via standard protocols – such as SIP, H.323, T1, E1, NI-2, and analog – the Startel soft switch platform seamlessly operates within the existing framework of any healthcare facility. In addition, with Startel’s standard 7/24/365 support and decades of experience – with over 250 existing healthcare customers worldwide – potential IT integration issues are usually identified in advance, and headaches are minimized or eliminated. Also, Startel’s CRM application contains at its heart a standard SQL database, thus allowing for maximum integration with other third party applications within the organization.

Reliability: The Startel soft switch logs in at 99.999% up time. The only downtime is planned when new product updates are administered. Planned downtime can be mitigated or eliminated through utilizing Startel’s auto failover option.

Reporting Capabilities:  A wise person once said, “When performance is measured, performance improves.”  Many healthcare professionals are unable to fully and efficiently measure the performance of their contact center staff when utilizing “big box vendor” switches due to a lack of real-time operational statistics and reports.  By deploying the Startel soft switch platform, organizations can capture and log every call activity in real-time from the time the call is sent from the central office (CO) and it reaches the Startel soft switch to call completion. With the Startel soft switch, every aspect of a call is available in an easy-to-view, user-friendly, graphically-represented format in either canned or customized reporting formats.

Ease of Configuration:  The Startel soft switch platform comes with a set of configuration tools that allow customers to quickly and easily configure the soft switch to fit their particular call scenario. Utilizing a GUI-based visual dial plan, users can configure the flow of a call with “drag and drop” ease using a standard mouse.

Non-proprietary:  The Startel soft switch platform is non-proprietary from both a software and hardware standpoint, allowing for maximum integration and flexibility with existing site applications.

True Multimedia Queuing:  The Startel soft switch includes a self-contained integrated ACD software switch. Wrapped around the software switch is the Startel API server. The combination of the software switch and the API server supports true multi-media queuing for voice, SMS, IM, email, fax, and Web chat.

Scalability:  Utilizing multiple instances, the system can be scaled to handle virtually any call volume. Processing power can be increased by using load balancing.

Rapid Application Development:

Rapid application development (RAD):  By utilizing standard open protocols and APIs, the Startel soft switch platform allows applications to be developed in a fraction of the time of traditional software development as required in proprietary platforms. In addition, there are virtually no limits to application development due to the 100 percent software development platform – there are no hardware constraints evident in either proprietary or hardware dependent platforms. The Startel soft switch platform offers healthcare professionals a cost-effective, non-proprietary, non-hardware dependent alternative to software development conducted internally by the healthcare organization, by Startel, or a third party.

Auto Dialer:  One example of RAD is the Startel auto dialer, a fully functional appointment reminder that is integrated with both the Startel CRM and soft switch platform. The auto dialer application was developed quickly by using third-party open source libraries of code. The benefit to sites that implement the Startel auto dialer will be increased efficiencies of resource deployment. This is accomplished by applying better personnel load balancing based on increased integrity of scheduled appointments. Since the application was developed under the RAD model, the cost of the application is cost-effective for any organization.

Virtualization: Space is a finite resource for all healthcare customers. Startel’s soft switch platform can be deployed in a fully virtualized environment, thus minimizing the footprint of the Startel applications and therefore lowering customer hardware and maintenance costs.

Oncall Scheduling Solutions:

Startel Oncall:  The Startel oncall scheduler provides users the ability to instantly notify call agents about which individuals are available to receive calls, messages, and assignments. The intuitive front-end application invites users to make daily, weekly, or monthly schedule change and keeps a complete audit trail of schedules assigned.

Web Oncall:  The Startel Web oncall application delivers a powerful, fully functional oncall product over the Web. The intuitiveness and flexibility of Web oncall reduces the need for training and increases the efficiencies of both the contact center and their clients by allowing direct real-time access for schedule changes.

Agent Monitoring:

Data, Voice, and Video Recording:  Whether utilized for training, performance, or compliance reasons, Startel’s logger application provides fully searchable voice recording, screen recording, monitoring, and performance management tools to increase the professionalism of the healthcare organization.

CRM Standard Features: Startel’s Call Management Center (CMC) is fully HIPAA compliant and includes Health Level 7 (HL7) integration. The Startel CMC includes workforce management, intelligent dispatch, voice services, meet-me-paging, and over 150 features and functions. The Startel CMC is a Windows 7 and SQL server-based system. Startel is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Microsoft Gold Independent Software Vendor (ISV), and an IBM Business Partner.

[From the February/March 2011 issue of AnswerStat magazine]