The benefits of end-to-end IP networking are already obvious and have been made clear in many articles before this one. It’s the application of these innovative technologies to various vertical markets that’s truly exciting. The healthcare field is one vertical market that can truly take advantage of the benefits of IP. Healthcare is a fast-paced environment where access to the right information at the right time is critical — lives actually depend on it.
In the Haute-Savoie region of France, the Annecy Regional Hospital Center (CHRA) was undergoing a construction project, and decided to take advantage of the moment to upgrade its communications and networking infrastructure.
According to Claude-Henri Tonneau, Director of Information Systems, CHRA, “We wanted our communication infrastructure to support a high-performance information system that converged voice, data and imaging, to put information at the fingertips of our healthcare professionals wherever they are on the campus. The overall goal was to reduce time spent accessing information, and to avoid repetitive tasks that add little value — in short, the pursuit of heightened efficiency.”
Among the other objectives that CHRA had identified at the outset of the project, they wanted staff to have simplified access to the hospital’s intranet portal using a synchronized and unified directory, and to take advantage of the latest collaborative tools such as unified messaging. Furthermore, the hospital wanted to give their patients access to multimedia communications.
Of course the hospital wanted to ensure that the medical staff (nurses, doctors, technicians, etc…) would be alerted to various alarms and emergency calls via a mobile device or terminal integrated into the communications infrastructure.
CHRA selected Alcatel-Lucent (News
) and systems integrator NextiraOne to implement a series of upgrades to their infrastructure. The old systems were reportedly a mess, and it was impossible to share applications and information across the multiple networks that were deployed over time with no strategic plan in place.
The new solution was implemented in several phases.
According to CHRA’s Tonneau, “The first phase of the implementation involved the design of a voice, data and image-sharing network architecture, which unified DECT (News
) mobile telephony with a hospital communication solution (comprising telephony and messaging) and a Local-Area Network (LAN) deployment. The partnership also provided project management and training, and implemented an operational service agreement to manage any incidents.”
The second phase of the implementation saw over 600 patient terminals deployed throughout the facility, in an effort to install a separate terminal at every patient’s bedside.
According to Tonneau, “The terminals perform a variety of functions for both hospital staff and the patients themselves. For the medical and nursing personnel, access is provided to patient files, lab reports, prescriptions, healthcare plans and so on.”
Using the terminals, patients are able to take advantage of a plethora of entertainment and communications options, including TV, Internet, Video on Demand (VoD), telephony, games and audio books. And perhaps more importantly, they have access to information relating to their treatment, such as information on the hospital and its facilities, pathologies or tests and information about preventive healthcare. The terminals also facilitate end-of-stay quality surveys to allow the administration to gather feedback from patients and to improve future healthcare provision, as well as reduce the paperwork usually associated with checking an individual out of the hospital and clearing the bed for the next patient.
The newly deployed network, which features centralized global system management, was well received by CHRA IT staff. In fact they see a future migration path that will only enhance the ability for medical personnel to better serve their constituents.
Said Tonneau, “Now, we have a communication system that offers endless evolutionary possibilities, and many projects that would have been impossible with our old system, are now open for us to pursue.”
Greg Galitzine is editorial director for TMC’s (News - Alert) IP Communications suite of products, including TMCnet.com. To read more of Greg’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
To read a more in depth account of the Annecy Regional Hospital Center’s infrastructure upgrade, please click here
Edited by Greg Galitzine