3Com voice solution remedies patient communications at University of Tennessee Cancer Institute

Santa Clara 08 July 2003As the key health care provider for haematology and oncology patients over a 300-mile area, University of Tennessee Cancer Institute (UTCI) requires reliable telephone communications. Now, bolstered by a powerful voice solution from 3Com Corporation, the fast-growing 400-employee clinic system is blazing new trails in cancer treatment and research.


Today, using a powerful 3Com networked telephony solution to link its 11 Tennessee, eastern Arkansas and Mississippi clinics, UTCI is speeding its communications with patients, vendors and among its sites. Using 3Com's graphical management applications, the Memphis-based health system eliminated hefty contractor service fees needed to keep its previous PBX systems running, significantly lowering its total cost of ownership. In addition, the 3Com voice system interoperates with UTCI's existing Ethernet network and cabling, which reduced its installation, voice and Internet communications costs while maximising its return on investment (ROI).

"Our 3Com voice system is improving communications critical to our patient care and research", stated Rizwan Yunus, the director of Information Services Department of UTCI. "Thanks to 3Com, we are saving tens of thousands of dollars annually in vendor service, management and long distance charges. The 3Com voice system's ROI is so good, we were able to buy out one of our large telephone service contracts two years early and still save money."

Using 3Com's SuperStack 3 NBX Networked Telephony Solution in its two greater Memphis cancer centres and NBX 100 chassis in its nine outlying clinics, UTCI is streamlining its communications. The 3Com voice platform, which runs on the health care provider's Gigabit Ethernet network and WAN, helps administrative staff promptly service patients dialing in to schedule physician visits, lab tests, surgery and radiation treatments. The 3Com voice system also accelerates communications with insurance vendors, helping UTCI more rapidly process claims and collect reimbursements.

The 3Com system's support for virtual tie lines allows UTCI staff to enjoy fast four-digit dialing, boosting patient care and research collaboration among its sites and saving considerable long-distance charges. The NBX system's unique bridged extensions let UTCI physicians who work in more than one clinic program their phones in each office to ring simultaneously, enabling patients to reach them more rapidly.

Multi-site employees also appreciate the NBX platform's voice-mail system, which lets them maintain a single voice-mail account covering each office, a cost-saving convenience their PBX systems were unable to provide. UTCI uses the NBX system's voice-mail for simple paging and off-site notifications, ensuring that urgent patient calls are always answered promptly. Advanced NBX system features, such as call forwarding, caller ID and phone conferencing, further improve UTCI's patient care and productivity.

In addition, 3Com's call detail reporting (CDR) provides call volume and duration metrics UTCI uses to more efficiently deploy administrators charged with scheduling doctors' visits and treatments and processing insurance claims. Previously, UTCI used an array of Meridian, InterTel and Nortel PBX systems. As the cancer care group grew, incompatibilities between them caused dropped calls between sites. Staff working in more than one site also tolerated inconveniences, such as multiple phone numbers and voice-mail systems. At the same time, UTCI's need to add and relocate employees forced it to contract costly service technicians to move, add and change its phones.

To find the solution, UTCI consulted with solution provider LAN One, and considered IP-based systems from Cisco, Lucent, Nortel and 3Com. LAN One is a 3Com Gold Partner based in Memphis, Tennessee. They specialise in voice and data integration. UTCI chose the 3Com solution based on its features, management tools and leadership in the IP phone marketplace.

UTCI was also impressed with 3Com's browser-based NBX NetSet administration utility, which provides savings in vendor service fees by allowing in-house management of phone moves, adds and changes. UTCI additionally appreciated 3Com's handy Windows-based application pcXset, which it now uses to save costs by allowing computers in its four smallest clinics to function as regular NBX phones.

"The 3Com voice platform allows us to quickly respond to our patients with tremendous savings", concluded Rizwan Yunus. "Thanks to 3Com, we are better able to provide the finest cancer care and research programmes possible." 3Com is a tier-one provider of innovative, practical and high-value voice and data networking products, services and solutions for enterprises of all sizes and public sector organisations. More 3Com news can be found in the VMW May 2003 article Covenant Health bolsters patient services using 3Com enterprise network.

Leslie Versweyveld

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