Switchvox Saves Thousands for Strategic Health Care
Strategic Health Care, located in Santa Barbara, California, develops and offers performance improvement software and real-time data analysis for a variety of healthcare providers throughout the U.S., including hospitals, physician groups, and accountable care organizations.
On the surface, a new telecommunications system wouldn’t have appeared to be a priority need for Strategic Health Care in Santa Barbara, California. Unlike many companies still struggling to convert an old analog system to a web-centric VoIP system, Strategic Health Care was already operating a sophisticated, up-to-date IP-based telecommunications system. Sophisticated that is, until they factored in costs. “It was very expensive,” explains Cevin Doppmann, network engineer for Strategic Health Care. “For two years, we had been outsourcing an IT-based system called Clear Star to Impulse Advanced Communications. The costs were enormous – between $70 and $80 per user per month.” With a staff of close to 40 employees, Strategic Health Care sought a replacement system that would cut these costs significantly and bring their telecommunications in-house. As a new addition to Strategic Health Care, Doppmann came onboard to implement the transition, after management had performed their research and due diligence in finding a new telecommunications system. An experienced network engineer, he was familiar with the Cisco Unity solution and its convergence-based communication services. “I wasn’t familiar with Switchvox or Asterisk specifically, but I was loosely knowledgeable about the open source concept,” he says. Management had considered several options including a cloud system and even renegotiating hosted costs with Clear Star. They also priced a variety of IP and web-based systems. When it came to reducing costs, the hosting option didn’t stand up to budgeting. When comparing features and price, Switchvox won out against all the competition.
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“They felt confident in their choice, but said that if I found a better solution or knew something they did not, they would be glad to hear me out. The truth is, the more I read about the Switchvox solution, the more certain I became that it was the right choice.” Because Strategic Health Care had the basic infrastructure in place to install IP-based products, Doppmann was able to deploy Asterisk-based Switchvox right out of the box. The simplicity of the solution meant he didn’t need additional technical support for installation. “We kept our existing Polycom IP phones, but I was prepared to have to reconfigure our phone set-up and reset the entire phone system to Switchvox specifications.” Doppmann admits to being pleasantly surprised when the process was straightforward and free from complications. Doppmann is still learning a great deal about all the features the new system offers, and has found support lines and online help to be invaluable resources. Doppmann says he has set up call queues and facilitated ring groups based on a tier system to make sure calls get routed to the right people. The company is currently using two call queues, and voicemail-to-email.
Strategic Health Care was able to eliminate more than $2,100 per month (approximately $25,000 a year) in user fees alone, by replacing their existing phone system with Switchvox. Working through a web portal, the previous application allowed the company’s customer support team a number of conveniences they were not willing to forfeit in a new system. As Doppmann discovered, implementing Switchvox meant keeping those features the support team needed, while still reducing costs. “One of the coolest things was that when I installed the Switchvox phone feature packs (PFPs) that came with the Switchvox PBX, Asterisk recognized them and all I had to do was plug in our phones and Asterisk linked them up without my having to reconfigure them manually.” The phone feature packs deliver many of the Switchvox applications right to the handsets so you can immediately record a call, browse your voicemail, answer parked calls, and plenty more. Doppmann also pointed out that the advanced system includes many useful features like the ability to receive a fax digitally. Another benefit for Strategic Health Care is that the software allows the company to continue using their proprietary software. They do so by entering through a web portal where their customer support team can perform all their functions online, including building reports and documenting customer issues. There are also aspects of the phone system that are still being implemented. “It has been easier to execute than I ever thought possible for such a high tech product,” Doppmann says. “Not only is Switchvox flexible and expandable leaving us plenty of room to grow, but it has cut costs drastically, which was one of the main objectives of the project.”