Brought to you by the Cisco Innovators Program
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are responding to their market environments by using network technologies to make big changes.
This is the story of a medical clinic that slashed its phone service costs by up to $12,000 a year, improved its security and service for doctors and patients, and added four satellite offices without having to add any more IT support.
The Agent of Change: Network Infrastructure
It all began when Valley Sleep Center decided to open a second office, and considered following that with a few more. But the plan hit a roadblock: 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," says the company's technical supervisor, Gerald Fougner. "But within two years they began crashing, were painfully slow, and we couldn't get in remotely. Also, transferring a phone call to another office tied up two or three phone lines. Our analog phone system was not efficient and could not expand at low cost."
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 option 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.
A network infrastructure is the equipment (such as routers and switches), protocols, cabling, and access methods—such as secure wireless and voice over IP (VoIP)—that enable people, phones, and computing devices to communicate inside the network as well as over the Internet.
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. "They're a leader that's innovating every day, and their products are very powerful and reliable, where other vendors' advertised SMB products are just not up to par."
Quick Move to Digital, with Big Dividends
New technology can be daunting. "But Cisco makes it easy, with one package—the Unified Communications system—that does it all," says Fougner.
At each new office, InVision had the new 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.
"It's too bad that so many medical offices remain antiquated because people are intimidated and resistant to new technology," he says. "They'll really be in pain when the time comes to go chartless."
Fougner reports that the integrated voice-data network has brought VSC these dividends:
- Easier and more secure connections, including the ability to connect to the network from laptops and mobile phones. Patients and visitors also have wireless access.
- A 50 percent saving in staff time spent on tech support. Fougner can now remotely manage the offices' systems, using the network to monitor and adjust equipment rather than having to drive to the sites.
- Better responses by staff to patients and doctors—with medical files and by phone. A sleep study file, which includes video, arrives about 80 percent faster. Inbound calls quickly reach the scheduler, doctor, or other staff member who can best help.
- Savings on OpEx and CapEx. 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 Cisco financing that InVision told us about," says Fougner. "It's a fantastic opportunity for an SMB. Cisco's offer really helped us with our expansion during a time when many businesses were closing."
Valley Sleep Center transformed its business by choosing the right network. "And we're just beginning to explore the advanced features," he adds. "The sky is the limit."
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