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Children's Hospitals Benefit from Unified Communications

Patients aged 17 and under make up nearly 17 percent of all hospital stays, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. While that doesn't seem like a lot compared to the other 83 percent of hospitalizations, those 6.4 million children face health issues that affect their overall development, such as problems with the respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Some hospitals may not be equipped to handle the severity of their problems, but with unified communications solutions, doctors and nurses can contact specialists to help treat illnesses.

Creating a Health Network

Birmingham Children's Hospital in the United Kingdom helps more than 240,000 patients annually, ComputerWeekly reported. However, that doesn't include the 20 nearby district hospitals it also serves with its pediatric intensive care unit. Known for its specialists, particularly in heart and liver cases, Birmingham Children's Hospital attracts a large patient-base.

 

However, a single hospital can't house every pediatric patient, so staff created the Kids Intensive Care and Decision Support Services to field calls from surrounding hospitals to answer questions, examine cases and determine whether patients would benefit from being transferred to Birmingham. KIDS staff takes 1,600 emergency calls each year - approximately 10 to 20 per hour - and UC solutions provide efficient means for fielding those calls, according to ComputerWorld UK. With every call coming in using IP telephony, each one can be answered swiftly and completely.

"This solution will not only benefit Birmingham Children's Hospital but will allow the referring hospitals who ring the Kids service to benefit from more efficient handling of emergency pediatric calls," David Marshall, head of IT at Birmingham, explained in ComputerWeekly.

Providing Flexibility to Health Care

Seven employees, along with volunteer doctors and nurses, compose the 24/7 hotline. However, they don't have the answers to every question. With UC tools, call center workers can bring in medical specialists via audio conferencing. Presence awareness allows employees to see which professionals they can connect with to receive expert advice.

 

Prior to the implementation of UC solutions, calls would have to end and be picked up again for specialists to conference in, even for only part of the conversation. Now, the system allows doctors to easily enter and leave the call at their convenience. Any contact that KIDS receives is for emergency purposes, so it's important for the center's workers to be able to get expert physicians in for at least part of the call.

"My early observations show this process happens more smoothly as it was designed specifically for this, and it lets these people with busy agendas, from initial participants to specialist surgeons, have a more streamlined and flexible service," Phil Wilson, the lead nurse for KIDS, told ComputerWeekly.

When it comes to health care, timing is crucial. Emergency situations cannot wait for medical professionals to answer their calls. Birmingham's KIDS ensures that phone calls are answered immediately with multi-line VoIP and conferencing capabilities. Medical specialists are always within reach to provide instant care.

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