Aged-care provider Anglican Homes has replaced a PABX telephone system with a converged voice and data network at two sites as part of a wider project due for completion by the end of 2007.
The company's IT manager, Peter Mildenhall, told ZDNet Australia that the company was responding to a need for better customer service and staff communications, as well as the desire to cut costs and replace a telephone system that was showing its age.
"We had a lot of the older PABX-style phone systems that were end-of-life and causing a risk to us, with regards to serviceability," he said in a telephone interview last week.
The new Nortel-based solution will be installed by Telstra subsidiary Converged Networks and service 19 sites with around 1,500 customers and 1,200 staff.
Mildenhall said that in contrast with alternative providers, Converged Networks had offered overall management of the project. Others wanted to outsource parts -- such as the installation of network cables.
The integrator was also happy to integrate the new network with existing functions such as nurse calls, paging and the fire alarm, he said.
The project's scope includes the provision of infrastructure to enable IP telephony on wireless handsets for staff that need to move between rooms as they deliver care.
This functionality will enable an additional care documentation project to allow Anglican staff to electronically enter updates on residents.
"We're moving from a paper-based system for all of our nurses and care staff, across to having that on hand-held units at the point of delivery of care," said Mildenhall. "The wireless infrastructure allows us to do that."
Another project in the works is the upgrade of Anglican's wide area network to a fibre and DSL-based solution from carrier Amcom.
The cost equation
While Mildenhall's team had many functional reasons to make the IP telephony leap, there were also financial benefits.
"By centralising our maintenance services, we should reduce our costs in that area," Mildenhall said. "At the moment each site has a different system and generally we pay for it as it breaks down."
The new system may also drive some revenue opportunities through future initiatives like phone and Internet services to customers: "We're also looking at extending the things that we can offer to our customers... such as phone services by the bedside, Internet services and so on."
Mildenhall said the upgraded infrastructure will help Anglican provide services expected by its next generation of customers -- or residents.
"It's all about building an infrastructure to be able to leverage the things that we know our residents are going to want in the next 10-15 years... it's not that far away for the baby boomers.
"The baby boomers are a different generation and they expect different things to the people who were going through our facility say 10-15 years ago ... they're expecting technology to be available to them," added Mildenhall.