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Communications Solutions from Avaya Help Cook County and its PublicHospitals to Reduce Costs and Improve Productivity

10-07-2003
  • Serving second largest county in the nation, new networked,wireless and voice self service capabilities will reduce callingcosts, enable more efficient service

Avaya Inc. (NYSE:AV), a leading global provider of communicationssolutions and services for businesses, today announced that itsInternet protocol (IP)-enabled communication software, switches andspeech self service solutions are helping Cook County, Ill., andits public hospitals significantly reduce costs and improveproductivity. The initiatives are valued at $7 million.

Avaya Inc. (NYSE:AV), a leading global provider ofcommunications solutions and services for businesses, todayannounced that its Internet protocol (IP)-enabled communicationsoftware, switches and speech self service solutions are helpingCook County, Ill., and its public hospitals significantly reducecosts and improve productivity. The initiatives are valued at $7million.

Spanning 950 square miles, Cook County is the second largestcounty in the nation and uses an Avaya communication network tolink its widely dispersed offices and agencies in what is believedto be one of the largest voice networks in the U.S. The county'sChicago-based John H. Stroger Jr. and Provident hospitals, part ofthe Cook County Bureau of Health Services network, will join OakForest Hospital and the county's broader Corporate Network viarecently installed Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled Avaya DEFINITY®servers. As a result, the hospitals will dramatically reduce theirtelecommunications costs by routing the calls of 7,000 staffersover the county-owned facilities.

"Our three hospitals expect to see their telecommunicationsbills drop dramatically," said Catherine Maras O'Leary, chiefinformation officer for Cook County. "At the county level we'resaving $8 to $9 million a year by routing 98% of our calls over ourown network and using 'least cost' routing functionality."

IP-Based Mobility solution for physicians
As part of its new Avaya communications solution for thehospitals, Cook County added new IP wireless phones for physiciansthat allow them to communicate on the run — an investment thatO'Leary estimates has paid for itself in only a few months.

"We might have had five doctors lined up at one phone to get labresults," she said. "Now they get information instantly and cantake action and treat more patients. In the future we hope to havelab results displayed on the phones themselves."

Revolutionary changes in pharmacy operations
Cook County also has used technology to make revolutionary changesin pharmacy operations at the three hospitals, resulting insignificant time and dollar savings each year. Using an Avaya SelfService solution, voice prompts now guide patients calling forrefills to enter the appropriate information, which in turn is fedinto the pharmacy database. Once stored, that information is usedto expedite the refill process.

O'Leary said the solution supports an initiative by Cook CountyBoard President John Stroger to improve the delivery of top-qualityhealthcare to county residents.

"We receive as many as 1,600 to 2,000 prescription refillrequests a day," O'Leary said. "We're operating more efficiently,wait times are down and we're delivering better service to thecommunity."

Expanding speech self service countywide
Based on the success with self service at the hospitals, O'Learysaid plans are underway to implement the technology countywide.

"We expect payback in less than six months with service levelsgoing through the roof," she said.

As a first step, Avaya's Interactive Response platform is beingdeployed by Avaya BusinessPartner Accuvoice to support a total of12 Cook County departments, providing residents with fast,automated, around-the-clock access to information. For example, acaller could receive information on the status of tax payments andrefunds from the Cook County Treasurer's office, the assessmentvalue of property from the Assessor's office and the status of abuilding permit or zoning designation from the Building and ZoningDepartment. Since the Avaya Interactive Response solution will belinked directly to county databases, it can verify identities andshare specific, personalized, real-time information via itstext-to-speech capabilities.

In addition, a bulletin board function automates answers to suchcommon questions as hours of operation and department functions,giving residents a quick way to access information after hours orduring peak calling periods — and freeing county workers to spendtime on more complex tasks.

The value of standardization
The new IR initiatives and the improvements at Stroger, Providentand Oak Forest hospitals are part of a countywidetelecommunications strategy that is based on standardization. CookCounty has standardized on Avaya DEFINITY® servers running AvayaCommunication Manager IP telephony software for communications,linking more than 30 of them in its county-wide network.

Doing so has paid off in a number of efficiencies. Since theAvaya servers are IP-enabled, software changes and upgrades can besent over the wide area network without having to send a technicianto visit each switch. In addition, the equipment and cabling ateach location are the same, greatly reducing the time required todo maintenance and allowing Cook County to support 26,000 widelydispersed employees with only 21 technicians.

The IP capability of Avaya's servers positions Cook County forthe future, allowing it to expand its use of Internet telephony andmove at its own pace to a fully converged voice and datanetwork.

"We look at the county as an enterprise," O'Leary said. "Likeany large business, we needed a solution that would be extremelydependable and accommodate our scale. Avaya had a path forcompanies to follow that could get us where we wanted to be."

About Avaya
Avaya Inc. designs, builds and manages communications networks formore than 1 million businesses worldwide, including 90 percent ofthe FORTUNE 500®. Focused on businesses large to small, Avaya is aworld leader in secure and reliable Internet Protocol (IP)telephony systems and communications software applications andservices.

Driving the convergence of voice and data communications withbusiness applications — and distinguished by comprehensiveworldwide services — Avaya helps customers leverage existing andnew networks to achieve superior business results. For moreinformation visit the Avaya Web site: http://www.avaya.com

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