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Nation's Largest Nonprofit Home Healthcare Agency Links Nine Regional Offices and Improves Emergency Response with Avaya IP Telephony Solution

08-26-2004
  • Visiting Nurse Service of New York to save $250,000 annually

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNS-NY), the largest nonprofit home healthcare agency in the nation, has selected an IP telephony solution from Avaya.

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNS-NY), the largest nonprofit home healthcare agency in the nation, has selected an IP telephony solution from Avaya (NYSE:AV), a leading global provider of business communications software, systems and services. The solution enables VNS-NY to link nine regional offices, improve emergency response capabilities and save $250,000 a year in communication costs.

Headquartered in Manhattan, VNS-NY has 2,900 nurses and rehabilitation therapists who conduct more than two million medical visits a year across the five boroughs of New York City and Nassau County, Long Island. The same healthcare professionals serve as "first responders" for the region in the event of an emergency, making timely and reliable communications an imperative.

"Our previous Centrex solution was costly, and we didn't have the capacity and reliability we needed to make certain we could be reached," said Randy Cleghorne, acting chief technology officer and director of IT planning and management for VNS-NY. "The contact center serving our visiting nurses, physicians and patients had 'maxed out,' and we didn't have five-digit dialing to branch locations."

A new IP telephony solution based on industry-leading Avaya Communication Manager software now supports the 2,500 members of the VNS-NY administrative team and links nine of the organization's offices in a single, seamless network. As a result, VNS-NY now has the capacity and reliability to serve patients more efficiently and has eliminated both Centrex and local toll charges, saving an estimated $250,000 a year.

Business continuity tops the list
In recognition of its first responder role and its previous experience with network outages, VNS-NY is improving its business continuity and emergency response capabilities by adding two pair of Avaya S8700 Media Servers at two company sites in Manhattan and local survivable processors at seven additional offices across New York and Staten Island. The duplicate pair of media servers provides VNS-NY with four times the backup capability it had previously, with each server mirroring ongoing network information and activity. Local survivable processors enable each location to operate independently should the company network be compromised in any way. In addition, if an incident keeps employees from traveling to the office, they can use a laptop or PC equipped with Avaya IP Softphone and Remote Agent capabilities to receive calls, access phone and contact center functions, and perform critical tasks from home or another remote location - just as if they were in the office.

To make certain key personnel are accessible during an emergency, VNS-NY uses an Avaya Extension to Cellular application that can bridge calls made to an office number to a cell phone instead, regardless of the wireless service provider or where the employee is located.

Improved efficiency = shorter time to service
There have been a number of major improvements in the company's contact center, including new Avaya skills-based routing to match callers with the right agent and comprehensive reports to track call volumes, response times and other parameters that help the organization staff more appropriately. As a result, VNS-NY is now able to serve patients, doctors and field personnel far more efficiently.

The new Avaya solution also makes it easier for Ms. Cleghorne and her staff to respond to changing needs.

"When we decided to expand our contact center to include the intake personnel who support our homecare consultants and obtain the referrals that drive our business, we had them up and running in a matter of days," Ms. Cleghorne said. "And when we needed to add a new group to our network, all they had to do was pick a phone and a location. As long as they had power, we could have put them anywhere."

To improve productivity for employees on the go, VNS-NY uses Avaya Unified Communication to integrate the company's voicemail and email platforms in a single mailbox, enabling email to be read by phone and voice mail messages to be accessed from a PC.

VNS-NY lays solid foundation with Avaya Global Services and PhoneXtra
Prior to implementing the new network for VNS-NY, experts from Avaya Global Services - a group of more than 7,000 specialists experienced in the design, deployment, protection, maintenance and management of enterprise communications - conducted an assessment to determine the readiness of the organization's data network to accommodate IP telephony services.

"Doing the network assessment is what made this work," Ms. Cleghorne said. "It was an eye-opener and made our implementation go smoothly. Whether we choose to add mobility capabilities, interactive response functions or to link our telephony system with backend business processes, we know we now have the infrastructure to support it."

Avaya Global Services partnered with VNS-NY to install the network and provides around-the-clock remote monitoring and maintenance. The solution was sold through Avaya Platinum-certified BusinessPartner PhoneXtra.

About Avaya
Avaya Inc. designs, builds and manages communications networks for more than one million businesses worldwide, including over 90 percent of the FORTUNE 500®. Focused on businesses large to small, Avaya is a world leader in secure and reliable Internet Protocol (IP) telephony systems and communications software applications and services.

Driving the convergence of voice and data communications with business applications - and distinguished by comprehensive worldwide services - Avaya helps customers leverage existing and new networks to achieve superior business results. For more information visit the Avaya Web site: http://www.avaya.com

About PhoneXtra
Founded in 1982, PhoneXtra provides communications systems as well as network design and implementation services to businesses across the U.S. It is a Platinum Business Partner of Avaya, Inc., which is a leading global provider of business communications software, systems and services. Its technical services team is now among the largest of any Avaya Business Partner in the U.S. The Platinum certification, the highest Avaya offers, indicates that PhoneXtra has met the highest standards of technical competency, customer service and support, as measured by an independent survey organization. To learn more about PhoneXtra, visit its Web site at www.phonextra.com.

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