Tampa General Hospital (TGH) deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2013 to give its 7,100 employees anytime, anywhere, any-device communications options. Employees boost productivity by using a rich, flexible
communications tool set, which ultimately helps TGH improve patient care and satisfaction. TGH is opening neighborhood clinics and letting employees work from home, and using Lync facilitates both initiatives while helping the hospital save money.
Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is a private not-for-profit hospital and one of the most comprehensive medical facilities in Central Florida, serving a dozen counties with a population of 4 million. TGH is one of the largest hospitals in Florida, and with approximately
7,100 employees, it is one of the region’s largest employers. TGH is also the primary teaching hospital for the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.
Communications technologies are critical in healthcare today, which is no longer confined to hospitals but extends to wherever healthcare professionals and patients happen to be. TGH needed a communications platform that would enable it to deliver more flexible
communication options to employees, including the ability to better communicate with patients. TGH used a mix of third-party audio conferencing, videoconferencing, email messaging, and other solutions but lacked a unified solution that employees could use
to communicate with push-button simplicity from any device, including tablets and smartphones.
||Lync videoconferencing really facilitates our work-from-home initiative and communication between employees in different offices. Employees can communicate from any device.
| Scott McCarty
Network Engineer Senior Specialist, Tampa General Hospital
Several factors drove the adoption of such a tool set: the need to improve employee communications, provide better patient service, enable business growth, and keep costs in check. “Tampa General is located on an island, so we can’t expand in our present location,”
says Scott McCarty, Network Engineer Senior Specialist in the Tampa General Hospital IT Department. “To accommodate business growth and also serve patients closer to their homes, we’re building smaller neighborhood clinics. We needed better communications
between the hospital and these satellite locations to avoid wasting time chasing down people and to provide accurate responses to questions.”
Additionally, TGH had given many employees the option to work from home, but that required better technologies to link home-based employees to office-based colleagues. Last, but high on the importance list, TGH wanted to expand patient-facing technologies to
improve the patient experience. “We survey patients after their stays, and patient satisfaction scores determine not only repeat business but how much federal funding we get for certain programs,” McCarty says.
Tampa General Hospital deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2013 to gain a comprehensive communications suite in one system. Lync 2013 includes voice over IP, audio and videoconferencing, instant messaging, and presence.
Today, when one of the company’s 7,100 employees needs to communicate with a colleague, they use the Lync presence indicator to find out if that person is available. If they are, they can contact them by phone, email, chat, or videoconference with a quick mouse-click.
In the middle of a conversation, they can easily change communication methods—escalating a chat session to a videoconference, for example—or add colleagues to the conversation.
Many TGH employees use Microsoft Lync Mobile to extend rich Lync communications to their mobile phones. If a doctor is in a room with a patient and a nurse needs to contact her, the nurse can simply send a quick instant message to the doctor. The hospital has
tremendously simplified conference call scheduling by using the one-click scheduling feature in Lync 2013.
Employees who work from home use Lync audio and videoconferencing to connect with office-based colleagues much more effectively than by email and phone. To communicate with vendors, university partners, Florida poison centers, and others outside of the hospital
network, TGH uses Lync Federation, which enables organizations that use Lync or Skype to communicate with one another.
Patients benefit indirectly from better employee communications. “When our nursing and business staffs can communicate more efficiently, we can get answers, test results, and other information to patients faster,” says Chris Maxey, Systems Analyst in the Tampa
General Hospital IT Department. “There’s a big drive in healthcare for quiet hospitals, especially at night when patients are sleeping. Employees using Lync have more communication options, so they can connect with colleagues without talking on the phone.”
TGH is interested in taking advantage of the interoperability between Lync and Skype to let patients contact their doctors using Skype.
By deploying Lync Server 2013, Tampa General Hospital has outfitted employees with modern communication tools that let them work flexibly from any location, and more productive employees contribute to improved patient service and satisfaction. TGH can use Lync
communication tools to grow in new locations while saving costs.
Enable Better Employee Communications
By using Lync 2013, distributed TGH employees can work together as easily as if they were in the same room. “Lync videoconferencing really facilitates our work-from-home initiative and communication between employees in different offices,” McCarty says. “Employees
can communicate from any device. And managers really like the presence indicator, which increases their confidence that home-based employees are online and working. Presence also reduces the time wasted chasing people down.”
Improve Patient Satisfaction
The faster employees can connect, the sooner they can deliver prompt, accurate care to patients. For example, the TGH bed-tracking department is constantly coordinating with hospital units to determine available room and bed resources. Instead of making phone
calls, employees now use Lync instant messaging, which is less intrusive, keeps the hospital quieter, and helps the hospital accommodate patients more quickly. Soon, TGH hopes to introduce Lync and Skype videoconferencing with patients, to help doctors care
for homebound patients and patients in isolation. Skype integration will also facilitate pastoral care communication with patients and family.
Help Company Grow in New Locations
With modern, flexible communication capabilities, TGH can confidently grow outside of its water-bound campus. “By using Lync 2013, we can expand our business through neighborhood clinics while giving employees in all locations the ability to communicate as
well as if they were in the same facility,” McCarty says. “We can also serve patients better through locations in their neighborhoods rather than forcing them to fight traffic and come into the hospital.”
Reduce Infrastructure Costs
TGH has been able to streamline its complex communications infrastructure and trim costs—always a good thing. It retired a third-party web conferencing service to save US$15,000 annually, and it also eliminated its previous conference bridge infrastructure,
a $10,000 annual savings.
By replacing multiple communications systems with Lync 2013, the IT department has been able to avoid significant growth in full-time staff numbers. “Our unified communications team has only three people who support email, Lync, audio and web conferencing,
and various telephony-integrated solutions for 7,100 employees, so every efficiency helps,” Maxey says.
For more information about Microsoft Lync Server 2013, go to: