How would you handle coordination, collaboration and communication across a health network of more than 100 physical locations with a staff of 20,000? That was the challenge for the six organizations that make up the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. As one of five Trusts operating in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Trust has an annual budget equivalent to about 1.5 billion US dollars. Staff there went looking for a solution that would improve communication flow, consolidate communications, and reduce costs. They selected Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and deployed the unified communications solution across all the Trust’s locations.
Why? According to Paul Duffy (right), Chief Information Officer for the Trust, “In the healthcare field, information needs to be passed quickly and accurately through the system to get a fast response, which in turn means we can give more people high-quality care.” From a clinical standpoint he notes, “Using the communication and collaboration features in Lync 2010 within a clinical environment, we can expedite the decision-making process.” He went on to say, “For those people who understand Lync and adopt it, there are real cost savings in terms of the time needed to make decisions.” Duffy and his staff predict that Belfast Trust will save the equivalent of $1.5 million during the period of the contract. Savings will come from, among other things, maximizing the Trust’s existing cabling infrastructure, reducing bearer circuits, and reducing maintenance costs.
And what will staff experience? Belfast Trust selected Microsoft Lync with integration in mind. It works well with existing desktop and mobile applications and gives users a familiar experience. That really helps with user adoption. The Lync 2010 client is tightly integrated with Microsoft Outlook, making it easy for staff to schedule and initiate messaging, voice, and video communication and collaboration. Videoconferencing in Lync 2010 makes possible real-time communication among healthcare providers. Clinicians are finding increasing opportunities to use the videoconferencing feature. The Trust feels that for specific areas, such as mental health, diabetes, or diet management, video chat may be the ideal mode of communication for patients and clinicians.
As I have travelled the world speaking to healthcare organizations large and small, this is but one more example of a progressive health services provider that has discovered the power of unified communications and the many ways this technology can be applied to improve staff satisfaction, care quality, patient access and lower the cost of doing business. Today, unified communications technology is being used by healthcare organizations for clinical and staff education, coordination of patient care, care team collaboration, community outreach, and more. If you haven’t explored how unified communications solutions could help your organization, you can learn more by visiting here. You can also read more about how Belfast Health and Social Care Trust will use the technology here.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft