Success Story


Kidney Specialist Improves Patient Care with Switchvox

The Customer

Kidney Specialists of Minnesota provides medical services to patients throughout Minnesota’s Tri-Cities who suffer from chronic kidney disease, hypertension, diabetic kidney disease, and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). KSM also cares for those who are recovering from kidney transplants or other kidney-related illnesses.

Business Challenges

During a recent renovation and expansion of their corporate office, the team at KSM saw an opportunity to replace and upgrade the multiple analog and digital telephone systems they were operating at their three locations in Brooklyn Center, Roseville, and Richfield, MN. KSM was using a combination of four or five digital and analog telephone systems at their three locations. All of the legacy phone equipment was an expensive maintenance nightmare, according to Brian Steingraber, director of Information Technology for KSM. “We began the research for a new telecommunications system two years ago. But we did not really know what to expect in terms of cost, and we didn’t have a budget set aside for it.” “One of the biggest concerns in researching a new phone system was to find a solution that still allowed patients to reach a live person during office hours, and not a computer,” says Steingraber. “Although price points were certainly a big consideration, the ability to continue personalized communications for our patients while using the automated IVR only after hours and on holidays topped the list of feature requirements in our search.” In addition to patient communications, the list of features and priorities included enterprise SIP to cut down on costly, time-consuming, and complex communications management across their multiple locations. The solution also had to be simple to use and expandable since KSM foresees the addition of new employees and the possible opening of new locations in the near future.

Solutions from Sangoma

To help ease the selection and deployment process, Steingraber put in a call to James Finstuen, a communications technology specialist at Ideacom Mid-America. Based in Minnesota, Mid-America offers Switchvox as an ideal Unified Communications (UC) solution for small and mid-sized businesses. Finstuen arranged for a Switchvox demo and overview webinar for the KSM team at the Brooklyn Center location, so they could fully compare Switchvox to the other solutions being considered. “Brian is very tech savvy, and he knew that what KSM wanted to accomplish would require building out their current data network into a MPLS network to accommodate voice communications (VoIP), so there was more involved than just buying a telephone system,” says Finstuen. “We looked at many options and sat through demos with all the big name systems,” says Steingraber. “We even considered a hosted service, but the more we dug into it, the more we realized it was going to be significantly cheaper to go with a premise-based solution. When we went through the Switchvox webinar and demo, the mix of features and price points for that system were definitely the deciding factor.” “After getting some preliminary pricing on the competing solutions and investigating what was required to build an infrastructure for VoIP, we realized we were looking at about $85,000,” says Steingraber. “Then when our renovation and consolidation project at the corporate offices in Brooklyn Center became a certainty, we found a way to group it in as a line item under that larger budget.” KSM successfully deployed their Switchvox solution providing their hundreds of users high performance and high redundancy. They also purchased over a hundred additional Sangoma D-Series IP phone sets.

The Results

Steingraber says even after two years, KSM is still realizing the changes and full capabilities the Switchvox UC solution offers. “The doctors don’t want to give out their private numbers, but they do want the staff to be able to reach them at any time, so we are getting their cellphones set up with the Switchvox mobile app so that can happen,” says Steingraber. Since migrating off their legacy phone system, KSM has already experienced a huge gain from efficiency savings. “We went from the smallest changes on our old system taking days, and even weeks to get done, to now being able to add or make changes in minutes and seconds with Switchvox.” “We don’t have a call center, but we do have a very high call volume with a lot of staff members taking calls. We do not use the automated IVR during business hours, but our receptionist can transfer calls to any location of a specific medical staff member. The system is so simple that to tell you the truth, the hardest part for the staff is getting used to not dialing ‘9’ before they make a call!”