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Protocol converter savings: $10,000 a day.

Protocol Converter Savings: $10,000 A Day Loyola Medical Center expects to save $10,000 a day with a point of service billing appraoch made possible by a protocol converter.

The pediatrics division is already saving $1700 daily at the 500-doctor, $120 million a year center in Maywood, Ill. Pediatrics is one of six billing stations on-line out of a dozen planned.

The new method avoids pitfalls--mainly delayed payment--of the traditional system of sending bills to patients after release. By handing the bill to a patient at the end of treatment, any questions come up right away, and often payment is made on the spot.

To get the system operating, analyst Mark Plumley faced a connectivity challenge, primarily printer-to-mainframe communications involving three new 3270-type IBM mainframes that could utilize coaxial printers.

A protocol converter or printer interface controller lets Loyola bridge the printer-mainframe gap. It makes asynchronous non-IBM equipment capable of being understood by synchronous IBM gear.

Loyola's model is the 6287IC+ printer interface controller from Agile. With it, any ASCII (asynch) or EBCDIC (synch) printer or plotter can be attached to 3270 Type A coas cluster controllers, connecting to the mainframe.

Most billing stations have tight quarters, forcing small Okidata Microline 320 and 390 printers on top of terminal monitors just to save space.

The IBM 3287 coaxial console printers that could have been used, with form-feeding capability ideal for point of service billing, were too large for the space and too noisy to suit doctors and staffers.

Plumley wanted some Hewlett-Packard laserjet printers, and HP recommended converters to him. After testing, Plumley bought 36 Agile converters, one for each printer eventually coming on-line.

The converter has alternate host capability for printer sharing. Users now can use one printer to print files from their PCs and the mainframe.

Plumley also figures that in addition to daily savings with the new billing method, less expensive HP and Okidata printers saved Loyola $93,600.

"I saved money and I got the performance I wanted," says Plumley. "I got printers small enough to use in cramped quarters and I got printers quiet enough to run in all planned areas, even those on the surgery floor."
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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