How a Techie Built a Network That Cut Costs by 50 Percent

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Making the right moves at the right time with technology can transform your company. Learn how the right network changed things at this business.

Sleep Expert at the Wheel

He's an expert in specialized medical equipment, a registered polysomnographic technologist who also ensures technology compliance with his industry's security requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

"But I'm not an expert in networking," says Gerald Fougner. He characterizes his networking knowledge as "based on gaming and buying routers and switches from superstores."

Modesty aside, the technical supervisor at Valley Sleep Center used network technology to help his company slash its phone service costs by up to $12,000 a year, improve its security and service for doctors and patients, and add four satellite offices without having to add any more IT support.

It all began when Valley Sleep Center decided to open a second office, and considered following that with a few more. Fougner knew that any expansion would overwhelm the clinic's meager data network and phone system.

"We had built our network with off-the-shelf routers and switches," he says. "But within two years they began crashing, were painfully slow, and we couldn't get in remotely when we wanted," he says. "Also, our analog phone system didn't operate efficiently and couldn't expand at low cost."

Weighing Voice and Data Options

Fougner explored the alternatives with several resellers. Valley Sleep Center selected InVision Technology Solutions, a Cisco® Certified Partner. InVision specializes in providing SMBs with tailored IT expertise and responsive local care.

"I also like InVision because they don't push you to buy specific products," says Fougner. "They took the time to really understand our business and show us the technology options, for now and our future. They recommend solutions that achieve our specific needs, and we choose whatever we prefer."

One option was to invest again in separate voice and data systems. Another was to subscribe to a cloud service. After performing a cost analysis, Valley Sleep Center chose a third alternative: invest in a stronger network infrastructure—"a solid foundation that would let us do virtually anything we want to," says Fougner.

Based on the costs and capabilities of various vendors' infrastructure solutions, Valley Sleep Center chose a Cisco Unified Communications system that has built-in routing, wireless, and security, Gigabit Ethernet switches, and a variety of IP phones. "Cisco has a great selection of products for SMBs, at a reasonable price," says Fougner.

Now each Valley Sleep Center site has the same network infrastructure, connected by T1 Internet service with 21 Direct Inward Dialing (DID) lines and a backup digital telephone line for emergency use.

At each new site, InVision had the voice and data network up and running in one day; user training was done jointly by InVision and Fougner. "Our doctors and staff got used to the new phones really quickly," he says. "Now they say they can't live without them."

Stronger Infrastructure Delivers Dividends

"The value of our Cisco network is much more than equipment," says Fougner. "It's enabled all kinds of changes." He describes four big changes:

  • More secure, faster data transfer. "The network moves our voice, data, and video files securely by ensuring VPN tunnels are available; we also have VLANs. And it's made a huge difference in traffic speed internally. Transferring a sleep study, which includes video and proprietary application files and is typically 0.5 to 1 GB, used to take 5 to 10 minutes in our network. Now it takes 5 to 10 seconds. The time saved by doctors and staff adds up."
  • Better customer service. Inbound calls quickly reach the scheduler, doctor, or other staff who can best help. "We give much better customer service with our call handling, especially with interoffice call transfers and voicemail," he says. "We can now also use laptops and mobile phones, securely with wireless VLANs, as well as offer patients and visitors wireless guest access—all without buying more wireless routers or access points."
  • Time savings on IT management. "This network lets me do a lot more with less. It's cut the time I spend on tech support for the offices by over 50 percent. I can log in remotely to everything on the network at any time through a VPN connection, and fix things on the fly."
  • Cash flow savings. Monthly phone expenses are approximately one half of what they'd be with a traditional system: the new solution cut phone line charges by $500 and enables up to $500 in free long distance calls. VSC also enjoys cash flow benefits on capital expenses. "We took advantage of the Cisco financing that InVision told us about," says Fougner. "It's a fantastic opportunity for an SMB."

Fougner made a right network move at the right time for his company. He characterizes the transformation more modestly. "I trust InVision, and Cisco makes it easy with one network infrastructure package that does it all."

Next Steps

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