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Indianapolis hospital's centrex taps power of advanced CO.

Saving money, obtaining improved call handling capabilities, and maneuvering into position for the future are all solid reasons for turning to centrex.

Community Hospital in Indianapolis thought so. That's why it switched to centrex nine months ago.

Edward Koschka, vice president of information services, remembers how the hospital's own switch, an AT&T System 2000, had just about run out of capacity.

"We were down to just 36 stations available," Koschka recalls. He managed to free 100 ports on the PBX by spreading the word that each department would be charged per line for phone service.

"That gave us some room, but at that point we also decided to build a new medical office building. To adequately support it, we decided to replace the switch."

Community Hospital has digital centrex from Indiana Bell at its largest campus, Community Hospital East, on the east side of Indiana's capital city. The hospital has two other facilities, on the north and south sides.

"We couldn't call forward out of the old switch; we have many departments that move between the three hospitals and like to call forward," Koschka says.

"Also, we now have features such as digital displays that people would not do without. It supplies the name of the caller internally and if a call is transferred, the display tells you from where. As an answering point it provides a lot of information."

The northside and southside hospitals have Northern Telecom Meridian SL-1 switches and will keep them, Koschka says.

"We'd like to link the two SL-1s to the centrex for five-digit dialing in a corporate network and start tying all our facilities together. I'd like to see them tied so closely that we could consolidate telephone operators in the evening and night shifts.

"As soon as we get the SL-1s upgraded to release 16 software, which requires some additional memory, we will be able to link the systems together. We will better tie the facilities together in long-distance utilization and link our off-site facilities. It's a city-wide network that we're looking at."

Advanced CO service

Community Hospital is served by a fiber-optic link from a Nother DMS-100 switch in the Melrose central office downtown, nearly five miles distant, to its neighborhood CO. Another fiber link runs from the nearby CO to the hospital. That setup is a real plus, Koschka says.

"Industry has really decreased on the east side of Indianapolis. what is the chance of adding digital capabilities to our central office? It could be 10 years down the road.

"The Melrose central office is where all the major businesses in Indianapolis are supported, and new technologies will be supported there first."

Koschka says it's too early for solid figures on cost savings, but the hospital does expect significant savings over the five years of the centrex contract.

Community Hospital didn't surrender any control by moving from a PBX to centrex, Koschka says.

"We have just as much control as with a PBX. We have hot spares we can make active at any time. We have full access to the system's functions and capabilities. We put in the system features, even from home through various terminals."

The hospital primarily runs voice over the centrex network, but is moving toward data transmission.

"We are looking at using the Datapath services of centrex to convert our offsite facilities," Koschka says. "We're running the same registration system at all our sites, so with Datapath we can run those at 56 kb/s versus 9.6 and improve overall response time."

However, Datapath is not available city-wide, Koschka says, so that application must wait until 1992.

Voice mail trial

Community just started a 90-day voice mail pilot, involving 75 people at three facilities. With the VMX system, installed by Dugdale Communications, the centrex system will send internal, but not external, callers to voice mail.

"We feel it is important for an outside caller to have a human answer the phone," Koschka explains. "With the capabilities of centrex we can call forward an external call to a receptionist and an internal call to voice mail."

The hospital is also looking into a work-at-home trial. With centrex ACD capability, calls at peak times could be routed to part-time agents working at home with computer terminals. Koschka says these agents may only go on-line for half an hour or an hour at a time, to relieve call congestion.

An existing application also uses the ACD. Koschka describes it as "one-stop shopping" for doctors. Their offices call a centralized scheduling area, taking care of all the facilities an incoming patient needs with one call.

The total Community Hospital network consists of some 45 facilities, with more than 3500 telephones, 1100 computer terminals, 17 computer systems from seven vendors, and a mix of data circuits.

Koschka says centrex is the right approach for the hospital's future.

"You have to look at where your networks are evolving. In the past you looked at the internal network, but strategically the networks are evolving outside of the hospital. We are looking at evolving into physician offices, insurance companies and patient homes. Part of the strategy is to establish yourself with a business partner such as Indiana Bell. That is the approach we have taken."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Community Hospital, central office
Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Previous Article:Why three users replaced modems with CO LANs.
Next Article:Joint venture centrex serves school, state offices.

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