“It’s a cost effective solution that’s better than our old A$20,000+ VC units. The quality’s fantastic, and because it’s intuitive and integrates with existing Microsoft tools like Outlook and Exchange, people like using it.
You don’t need intensive training to make it work.”
Bill Vargas, Chief Information Officer, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network
In 2010, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead amalgamated with Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, the Neonatal Emergency Transport Service and other children’s services to form the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. The transition brought considerable
structural challenges, as the new multi-campus organisation looked for a way to bring staff together over wide geographic boundaries – while minimising impact on both productivity and the bottom line.
At the same time, the Network has an ongoing responsibility to care for children in remote areas of NSW – and with the federal government’s new Telehealth initiative, a powerful incentive to explore the possibilities of video.
Microsoft Lync Server 2010, a unified communications platform with intuitive videoconferencing capabilities, helped the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network save time, money, and make a positive difference to children’s lives. Now, clinicians and executive
staff have genuine flexibility in when, where and how they talk to each other. Specialists are much more accessible, seeing children in remote locations far more often without the need to travel, and transforming quality of care. And as an intuitive videoconferencing
solution, it’s made effective campus-to-campus meetings a day-to-day reality, not a luxury.
||When I damaged my Achilles tendon, I had to work from home for two months. That’s when I realised the solution to our problem was right there in front of us.
| Bill Vargas
Chief Information Officer
Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is more than just a medical facility – it’s an institution. A name recognised for the difference it makes to the lives of Sydney’s youngest patients – and their families.
For over 100 years, the Hospital has provided much-needed treatment, including 17 years from its campus in western Sydney. But in 2010, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead became part of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, teaming up with Sydney Children’s
Hospital Randwick and the Neonatal Emergency Transport Service.
Coming together empowered the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network to offer even better outcomes for their patients – but also introduced a number of structural challenges.
For example, how to keep staff in touch with each other, without the inefficiencies involved in travelling between widely separated campuses.
At the same time, the Network was committed to ensuring children in remote areas of NSW receive the highest possible standard of specialist clinical care.
Bill Vargas, Chief Information Officer, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, knew how important access was for children with chronic and life-threatening conditions. “For kids in places like Bathurst and Orange, getting to see a specialist could be infrequent
at best. So we’d been thinking long and hard about the problem.”
At the same time, the state-wide public health body, NSW Health, and the Commonwealth Government, had ushered in a number of initiatives with telemedicine very much in mind. Including financial incentives to help health practitioners reach out to patients
isolated due to geographical remoteness or limited mobility.
Doctors were now able to bulk bill video consultations, while also receiving rebates and direct cash incentives.
The Network already had the facilities. The trouble was, they were under-utilised. Expensive teleconferencing suites were complex to use and brought scheduling clashes, while long-distance travel ate into budgets.
“Both campuses had videoconferencing suites, but they required training to use or allocated staff to set up – and by the next time you used them, you’d already forgotten how.”
To get a teleconference underway, clinicians and executive had to book not just the suite, but the IT expertise to go with it. “It was too time consuming –the productivity benefits weren’t being fully realised,” Vargas says.
Bill Vargas could clearly see the benefits of video – but it was a personal experience that showed him how to realise that potential.
“When I damaged my Achilles tendon, I had to work from home for two months. That’s when I realised the solution to our problem was right there in front of us.”
Microsoft Lync Server 2010, an enterprise-ready unified communications platform, gave Vargas the freedom to work easily from home – and the Network everything it needed to step into a new era of communication.
Whether integrating with existing videoconferencing facilities, or operating Lync-to-Lync between two camera-connected PCs, Lync has made Telehealth an affordable reality. Now, a videoconference is as simple as making a call from a desktop PC.
For specialists, who no longer have to travel hundreds of miles to remote patients – or wait in the queue for a conferencing suite – Lync could literally be a life-saver.
“Now our specialists can connect from their desks. It’s easy for them to team up with local doctors and see kids hundreds of miles away.”
Meanwhile, for large, multi-person teleconferences, Lync combines with a Polycom Roundtable device to provide a full-featured, high-definition experience.
With five cameras and voice recognition, the Polycom – powered by Lync – can switch from a 360-degree panoramic view to hone in on the person who’s currently speaking.
“It’s a cost effective solution that’s better than our old A$20,000+ VC units. The quality’s fantastic, and because it’s intuitive and integrates with existing Microsoft tools like Outlook and Exchange, people like using it. You don’t need intensive training
to make it work.”
And whether it’s a one-on-one consultation, or a board meeting with ten participants, users appreciate its extensive functionality – including integration with Microsoft Office.
“We’ve got a huge amount of data on file – test results, x-rays, clinical notes – and we can share it all in real time,” Vargas says.
For Vargas, the productivity dividend is obvious. “It’s early days, but the return on investment looks extremely promising.”
Only a short time after Vargas started to test the possibilities of Lync across the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, the response has been astonishing. The gains in efficiency are obvious and, while the cost implications are currently being assessed,
Vargas is thrilled by the potential. Executive and clinical staff can’t stop talking about the difference it’s made, and with the buzz it’s generating, many other areas of the hospital – like education and research – are putting their hand up to explore what
Lync can do.
Reducing travel time to boost productivity and cut costs
||The costs associated with travel can be enormous. Hours were lost going to meetings, and executive and senior staff needed offices on both campuses. The value of a simple, easy-to-use videoconferencing solution can’t be underestimated.
| Bill Vargas
Chief Information Officer
Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network
For the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, face-to-face communication is essential. But the distances involved were putting a real strain on productivity – until Lync made connecting via video a whole lot simpler.
“The costs associated with travel can be enormous. Hours were lost going to meetings, and executive and senior staff needed offices on both campuses. The value of a simple, easy-to-use videoconferencing solution can’t be underestimated,” Vargas said.
And as a unified communications platform, Lync’s other functionality – like presence – is also making a difference.
“Being able to keep track of who’s available in real time means we can talk to each other when we need to, without planning a meeting well ahead of time.”
Collaborating more efficiently and effectively
Lync works hand in hand with Microsoft Office, which makes it possible to share documents while you’re sharing a desktop. For the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, it means remote collaboration has never been simpler.
“We have a lot of documentation – test results, medical records, x-rays and other medical imaging. Being able to look at them across a shared desktop really speeds up collaboration. Instead of emails back and forth, conversations can happen on the spot.”
Communicating more fle
xibly and providing better care
Unfortunately, not everyone in the wider health community has access to Lync. But for the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, that’s no barrier to communication.
“With a gateway installed, Lync Server can connect to anyone in the NSW Health network – no matter what sort of video infrastructure they have in place. The Children’s Courts, the Department of Community Services and the only extra things we need are a A$90
desktop camera and Lync licenses.”
Vargas realised that the more organisations they could connect to by video, the greater the opportunity for time and cost savings. “It’s opened the door to some real productivity gains.”
Productivity aside, the ability set up a videoconference easily is really helping to change children’s lives. Instead of having to plan months ahead with clinics, or weeks ahead using videoconferencing suites, specialists can help children in remote locations
much more often, from behind their desks.
“And the kids love it,” Vargas says.
Increasing ease of use
Bill Vargas believes value of a familiar, intuitive interface can’t be understated. While the Network’s costlier Tandberg solutions were under-utilised due to the complexity of use and scheduling clashes Lync’s flexibility has everyone from the CEO to the
Network’s specialists lining up to explore the possibilities.
“The day after our chief executive, Elizabeth Koff, first used Lync, she had half a dozen people on their way to a meeting at Randwick. She wanted to know if we could turn them around and videoconference instead.”
The team also appreciate being able to schedule a meeting using familiar tools, like Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange.
“We expect it to become as simple and as common as email. An everyday tool.”
Microsoft product that was featured
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 is an enterprise-ready unified communications platform – making it easy for users to create, moderate, and join pre-planned and on-the-fly audio, video, and web meetings with people inside and outside their organization.
Lync provides real-time presence information, including photos, availability, and location. Users can keep track of their contacts’ availability and make a phone call – as well as start or join an audio, video or web conference – all through one consistent,
familiar interface. And sharing is simple, because Lync is built to fully integrate with Microsoft Office.
The Microsoft Lync 2010 desktop client is available for Windows and Mac, and mobile versions are available for Windows Phone, iPhone/iPad, and Android devices.
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Document published June 2012