Arohanui Hospice PABX Replacement

Reliable connections; lower costs

Arohanui Hospice has provided palliative care to people in the Manawatu, Tararua, Horowhenua and Rangitikei for over 20 years. The Hospice offers its services both onsite and within the community, including providing a 24-hour, seven-day advice service. More than 700 patients and their family/whanau each year receive support from the hospice.

Being readily available 24/7 to those who depend on their support is vital, so when the hospice’s old Legacy PABX system became increasingly unreliable, Arohanui called for tenders to replace it.

Arohanui’s Support Services Manager Tania Chamberlain says the push to replace the Legacy system wasn’t solely based on unreliability. “As a hospice we really need a stable phone system, but also, the PABX had reached its capacity. Having grown over the years, we found ourselves unable to add anymore lines without incurring huge costs, says Tania. “And the high number of calls that we necessarily make and receive saw our phone bills constantly creeping up.”

As part of its winning tender, FMS proposed replacing the old system with a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)-based system. VOIP avoids the need to use the ‘bricks and mortar’ copper wire telephone network, instead converting voice communication into a digital signal that can be transmitted via the internet – all at a much lower cost.

FMS estimated the change of system would save the hospice more than 80 percent of its annual phone costs, an estimate that’s firmly shaping into a reality. The call package Arohanui has been able to access using VOIP means a significantly cheaper monthly bill. As part of its association with the Liverpool Care Pathway, a model that promotes best practice in end-of-life care, the hospice makes frequent conference calls to the UK. Now, thanks to the VOIP-based system, the costs of hosting both international and national conference calls is a fraction of the usual cost.

However, as the hospice has discovered, VOIP offers many more benefits. “The VOIP-based system has saved us so much money, certainly through the call packages themselves, but also through the features that come with VOIP.   We’ve been able to add all the phone lines we need and set up voice mailboxes for every person.”

With the hospice’s old PABX, mailboxes had to be set up individually at considerable cost. With the VOIP-based system, every extension automatically gets a voice mailbox – for Arohanui, this meant for 16 lines and 60 extensions. Further, the system creates an audio file every time a message is left and sends an email to the mailbox holder. This means hospice staff can be literally anywhere and still be connected. This facility is a boon for Arohanui’s palliative care co-ordinator (PCC) nurses. FMS programmed an additional function for the PCC team whereby if they don’t answer their extension the call is forwarded to their cellphone to ensure patients and families always have access to the help they need.

The VOIP technology offers still more functionality. Tania says Arohanui’s doctors make a lot of dictaphone recordings that are then typed up by a receptionist. “We’re working towards our doctors using the phone to record their notes and forward to the receptionist for typing. It’s also an option that we may look at for our PCC team, who work in the community, and may be able to better use the time in between patients rather than typing the whole day’s work when they return to the hospice. It’s exciting to know that there is now the possibility of them phoning in their notes while in the field.”

The VOIP-based system also provides reporting functions, allowing data to be drawn down to provide valuable snapshots of a range of aspects. “The reports we’re able to produce help with evaluating hospice resources, especially the time demands on our PCC and IPU nurses. At this stage we’re making only basic use of this data. But we can see the potential to do a lot more.”

FMS sourced and installed all the hardware and software for the VOIP system, customising it to Arohanui’s specific needs. Much of the freedom and ability to customise comes from the fact the system is open sourced, a non-proprietary software framework. This software is a development platform that includes all the building blocks needed to create a PABX system or any other kind of communications solution.

Arohanui’s decision to go with a VOIP-based system coincided with a review of its IT set up, with the aim of better utilising technology to save on time and costs. “For us it’s about becoming more tech savvy and VOIP really complements the direction we want to take, especially from the perspective of future proofing our systems.”

Through FMS, the Hospice has been able to lease the VOIP system, a capital cost saving for the charitable organisation. As part of the lease arrangement, FMS provides 24/7 back up, matching the hospice’s delivery of services around the clock.

“The back-up service offered by FMS attracted us to their tender at least as much as the financial benefits. And we could see that they really wanted to partner with us.”

This partnership aspect formed a vital consideration for the transition from the old to the new system. “We were very nervous about the transition from the old to the new system. But FMS were fabulous. They were here onsite to help manage the transition. Come the day, there was something like only five minutes where we had no landline. The team was onsite for about a month helping the system bed in and giving us time to get used to how the system works. Nothing was too much trouble and they continue to provide a very responsive service.”

Says Tania, “FMS made us feel like a priority client”.

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Contact Details

Facility Management Systems Manawatu
Harrisons Line
RD 10
Palmerston North

PH: 06 352 0099
Mob: 027 654 9801

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11 Thames St

PH: 06 280 5211
Mob: 027 654 9810

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