A hospital department that looks after 1,600 severely sick children every year has implemented Unify’s touchscreen telephone system to try and save valuable time in evaluating prospective patients’ needs.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital had 1,668 ill young people referred to its Kids Intensive Care and Decision Support (KIDS) service last year by other healthcare providers around the West Midlands, as it could provide them with specialist care.
Those providers can call in on a 24/7 hotline, which gets between 10 and 20 calls per hour, in order to pass on details about the patient and for a group of experts to be able to triage the child.
Staff therefore must be ready at a moment’s notice to assess any new children referred to the service to see if they require the hospital’s care, but the previous telephony system was not doing the job.
Phil Wilson, lead nurse in the KIDS service at the hospital, said the old Siemens AC-Win deployment made it difficult to enable the operator to include various specialists on a conference on an ad-hoc basis.
"When we’re putting together conference calls we’re getting in touch with people who’ve been quite far removed and may not even be expecting a phone call," he said. "We needed a system which gives the operator the flexibility to be able to ring out to individual people, give them a little bit of background about the patient and add them to the conference.
"We don’t always know the names of the people we need but we know we need the person on call at that time. Often you’re looking for people who have roles rather than particular individuals."
After looking at systems designed to add lots of mobile phones quickly, Birmingham Children’s Hospital plumped for OpenScape Xpert, an apparently "bespoke" telephony offering developed by Unify – the name picked for Siemens following its rebrand last October.
Wilson said the system solves the problem the hospital had of adding people into conferences quickly.
"It feels as though the process is a bit smoother," he said. "The other thing is if these individuals need to drop off the line to look at an x-ray or something they can just ring back into the conference as well."
Xpert offers the hospital additional benefits too, including being able to manage multiple conference calls at once and switch specialists from one to another as and when they are required.
The hospital’s head of IT, David Marshall, added that the deployment makes it easier for staff to take part in conferences too by being less demanding of what they must do to log in to one.
He said: "It fits quite nicely into what we were trying to do. There’s less interaction required from the end users, whereas other systems we looked ta before needed them to put in PIN numbers and such. Xpert removed that requirement."
George Aristidou, a sales director at Unify, said: "It really is a transformational move in terms of integrated working. Having a deep understanding of the hospital’s needs allowed us to develop this bespoke system."
However, Xpert has only been deployed for about a month so far, and Wilson said it is too early to measure the benefits in terms of time and cost savings.
But he was positive about using the system for the future. "As our service grows we will be able to get more call handling capacity, which will enable us to manage more than one conference call at the same time," he said.
Marshall was equivocal about whether the service could be deployed elsewhere in the hospital.
"The early signs are quite good," he said. "The process has improved. It fits the needs of the KIDS service quite well, so we’ll see where else that can be adopted around the organisation."
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