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Posted: 2/19/2014
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Adventist Health System Healthcare Leader Integrates Communication Tools to Improve Staff Flexibility and Patient Care

Adventist Health System is integrating multiple communication technologies with Microsoft Lync Server 2013. With this flexible, easy-to-use technology, employees can communicate with one another in multiple ways from multiple devices, which helps to increase efficiency, reduce travel costs, and improve patient care. Adventist Health System is exploring opportunities with Lync and Skype to allow patients to communicate securely with family and friends.

Business Needs
Adventist Health System is a faith-based healthcare organization headquartered in Altamonte Springs, Florida. A national leader in quality, safety and patient satisfaction, Adventist Health System’s nearly 70,000 employees maintain a tradition of whole-person health by caring for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of every patient. With 45 hospital campuses and nearly 8,300 licensed beds in 10 states, Adventist Health System facilities incorporate the latest technological advancements and clinical research to serve more than 4.5 million patients annually.

With so many employees in so many locations, and some doctors working at more than one facility, Adventist Health System needs world-class communications technologies. The healthcare organization wanted to provide employees with easy-to-use instant messaging and presence capabilities that met the company’s needs for security and privacy. It chose Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, which it later upgraded to Microsoft Lync Server 2010. It purchased audio conferencing systems from another vendor.

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* Our goal with Lync 2013 is to give our employees incredible flexibility and simplicity in communicating, which will give them more time to focus on what they do best—caring for patients. *

Mark Dunkerley
Messaging Services Team Lead, Adventist Health System

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However, three different IT teams managed the multivendor communications landscape, all with similar initiatives. This had the potential for inconsistent user experiences, management work overlap, and missed cost savings opportunities. “The mix of multiple tools is something we want to avoid, because it creates frustration for employees and for those who manage them,” says Mark Dunkerley, Messaging Services Team Lead at Adventist Health System. “We want to be able to provide employees with a consistent and unified experience when it comes to communication.”

Solution
Adventist Health System consolidated its communication teams into one and created a clear strategy for unified communications by using Microsoft Lync Server 2013 as its core platform. “We had kept up with the evolving Lync product, and Lync 2013 has some really nice features in the areas of mobility and usability,” Dunkerley says.

Dunkerley’s team migrated the more than 50,000 employees in their division—the 32 Adventist Health System facilities managed by Adventist Health System Information Services—to Lync 2013. Two other Adventist Health System divisions, with approximately 20,000 employees, have Lync 2013 deployments of their own underway.

Today, an Adventist Health System employee simply locates a colleague’s name in his or her address book, sees if they’re available, clicks on the name, and initiates an audio or video call or sends an instant message. By using Microsoft Lync Mobile, employees can also interact with colleagues from their smartphones.

Another valuable feature is the increased convenience in participating in meetings from remote locations. “Many employees travel and want to be able to join meetings when they’re on the road and view shared content,” says Dunkerley. “Lync 2013 supports this kind of mobile meeting participation very well. We have thousands of web conferences going on all the time—roughly 8,000 a month—and the ability to take part in these from a computer, tablet, or smartphone is wonderful.”

Adventist Health System is piloting a first-generation Lync Room System using Crestron RL—a videoconferencing system with two large touch-enabled displays that share content and enable collaboration of in-room and remote participants. “Some employees struggle to figure out how to use our current room conferencing systems,” says Chris Stone, Audio/Visual Lead Engineer at Adventist Health System. “This discourages them from using them and drives up support costs. With Crestron RL, employees walk in the room, click ‘join now,’ and they’re in.”

By using Lync Federation, Adventist Health System can extend these flexible participation capabilities to vendors and partners who also use Lync. “We use Lync to communicate with Microsoft, Cerner, and other clinical and IT vendors,” Stone says. “We’re also looking forward to Lync Federation with Skype, which will provide the ability to let patients and family members communicate more easily.”

Benefits
By consolidating its communication functions with Lync 2013, Adventist Health System is able to provide employees with a unified, consistent experience across all communications vehicles: email, instant messaging, web conferencing, audio conferencing, videoconferencing, voice, and desktop and mobile devices. It is also looking to use the technology to improve the patient experience.

Simplifies Internal Communications
“Our goal with Lync 2013 is to give our employees incredible flexibility and simplicity in communicating, which will give them more time to focus on what they do best—caring for patients,” Dunkerley says. “Our business associates are seeing great benefits from the technology. Now we are exploring the uses for our clinicians.”

Often in patient care, time is of the essence, and being able to locate the right person at the right time can save lives and improve outcomes. For example, care given during the first hour after a stroke is crucial to minimizing brain damage and speeding recovery. By using Lync presence and videoconferencing, it may be possible to locate a specialist who is not at the hospital by using the Lync mobile client on a smartphone, sharing diagnostic images, and getting a diagnosis and treatment plan within minutes. “That communication speed can be life-saving or life-changing for the patient,” says Stone. “Lync 2013 with high-definition video is allowing us to explore these types of opportunities as we continue to grow with Microsoft Lync.”

Some hospital groups have incorporated Lync 2013 into process workflows. One group coordinates equipment requests through a Microsoft SharePoint site. When an employee submits an equipment request form, SharePoint sends the approver a Lync instant message, which speeds approval. On the clinical side, doctors and nurses use instant messaging to communicate during patient consultations to improve efficiencies.

Provides Potential for Improved Patient and Family Care
Adventist Health System has other plans, too. “We envision putting Lync and Skype-enabled devices at patient bedsides so that patients can have video calls with their families, find their doctors more easily, and participate in conferences with remote specialists,” Stone says. “There are times when individuals cannot travel to the hospital to see their sick loved one in person and may find additional comfort in seeing them via video. If we can provide an opportunity for a patient to see their loved one for one last time at the end of their life, we want to be able to do that.”

Reduces Costs
Adventist Health System has saved millions of dollars in travel costs by using videoconferences to supplement in-person meetings. The healthcare organization anticipates additional savings as it increases the use of Lync for videoconferences.

The company has also reduced management and maintenance work. “Having fewer tools to maintain allows us to be more efficient,” Dunkerley says. “Because Lync 2013 does so much, it allows us to provide a more unified experience to our users.”

For more information about Microsoft Lync Server 2013, go to:
www.microsoft.com/lync

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 70000 employees

Organization Profile

Adventist Health System is a Florida-based healthcare organization with 45 hospital campuses and nearly 8,300 licensed beds in 10 states.


Hardware
  • Virtualization on HP Servers
  • Crestron RL

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • Microsoft Lync 2013
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Windows Server 2012

Vertical Industries
Health Provider

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Unified Communications
  • Mobility

Languages
English

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