28 October 2016
The healthcare sector faces huge pressures. From an aging population, an increase in chronic lifestyle diseases and ever-rising running costs – it is under a continued strain to do more, with less.
To achieve long-term sustainability, a change in care delivery is essential. This will require a huge update in operations across the board, including that of staffing skills, facility capabilities and operational flexibility. And to tie the three together, an upgrade in telephony will be essential.
There is no doubt that budget cuts continue to plague healthcare organisations. This has led to planned hospital closures, service cutbacks and a major overhaul in care across the country. Yet despite this, the NHS still faces a projected financial shortfall £20 billion by 2020.
As such, an upgrade in telecoms technology can be the ideal route in helping to reduce the damage. By replacing legacy ISDN lines with future-ready technology today, there is a chance to release much needed funds. Through line rationalisation via SIP trunking, healthcare organisations no longer need to pay for excess lines they neither need nor use. This, combined with the ability to make and receive free phone calls between SIP trunks, means that it is possible to save up to 50% on line rental and 25% on call costs. Not to mention the reduced administration overhead by bringing telephony spending into the IT budget.
Improved operational flexibility
Healthcare organisations need flexibility. The changing nature of care, coupled with technological, sociological and demographic change means all trusts must strive to be agile. Again, telephony can help. Unlike traditional ISDN lines, SIP trunks allow for total telephony scalability. Lines can be added and removed as and when required, and with minimal dependency on hardware. This scalability is achieved with a simple software configuration, and is a powerful feature to have when dealing with the often-large peaks and troughs of demand.
The need for maximum comms service uptime is real. Telephones continue to be the main method of communication for the public when seeking emergency help, and as such, any downtime can be critically damaging both in terms of duty of care and organisational reputation. IP telephony solutions can help. When SIP trunks are deployed at two or more locations (and possibly at a disaster recovery site), or with resiliency built in to the network design, continuous availability can be guaranteed.
Cloud services continues to drive changes in the sector, including its beneficial effects on patients, providers and support staff. This means a switch to IP telephony can be hugely valuable to all healthcare organisations, regardless of size or speciality.
By addressing the future capabilities of telecoms today, healthcare firms place themselves in a better position to deal with the no doubt difficult challenges of tomorrow.
28 October 2016 | Sam Winterbottom
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.