Digital Healthcare Starts with a Better ‘Customer Experience’ for Patients

As a consumer, your customer exprience often drives your purchasing decisions. This edict holds true whether you’re having dinner at a restaurant, upgrading to a new smartphone or buying a new pair of running shoes.

Why should the consumption of heathcare services be any different? Unlike many purchases, healthcare customers usually have less mobility in how and where they receive healthcare services. It’s relatively easy to go to a new restaurant if you encounter bad service or to switch retailers when you have a negative experience. It’s not so simple to change insurance carriers or go to a different healthcare facility. The delivery of patient care is made even more complex when considering regulations, compliance and privacy issues. That’s why improving the healthcare “customer experience” has become so important.

Making the patient experience better and enabling healthcare staff to be more efficient falls to the healthcare provider. Fortunately, providers have a myriad of technology options that can help them improve service delivery.

Enable Better Calling Experiences

Digital transformation creates environments to help patients make more informed decisions about their healthcare. One of consumers’ biggest complaints is the inability to easly communicate with their healthcare providers—the phone line is always busy or it rings and rings before someone finally picks up the call. As if being sick weren’t bad enough!

A communications solution designed to rapidly and efficiently handle large call volumes is an ideal option for healthcare providers. A more efficient call system enables more individualized interactions between patients and caregivers and reduces wait times. Contact center and attendant solutions provide the ability to direct calls based on rules that route calls to personnel who have the skills and training to respond to certain inquiries. Calls from patients with similar questions also can often be handled through automated systems, further reducing wait times.

The Ability to Deliver Personalized Treatment…Remotely

Sometimes it’s not possible or convenient for a patient and a caregiver to be in the same place at the same time. Long-distance services such as telediagnosis, telemonitoring, self-monitoring or e-prescriptions use technology to extend the reach of heathcare providers. Video conferencing solutions expand facility services to offsite and remote locations so that dispersed team members are able to connect and consult more seamlessly. Video conferencing can*:

  • Promote knowledge sharing in real time
  • Reduce travel costs
  • Enable faster decision making
  • Build value-based service models
  • Increase care collaboration

*Before video conferencing is used in a healthcare setting, check HIPAA compliance requirements to avoid potential violations.

Further, a unified messaging solution enables healthcare facilities to better manage the flurry of alerts, texts, messages, calls and notifications being sent out. Unified messaging ensures that the right information and alerts are sent to assigned personnel, reducing alarm fatigue and enabling focused care delivery to patients without unnessary distractions.

Helping Caregivers be More Responsive and Collaborative

Being responsive to patient needs is one of the critical aspects of a caregiver’s daily routine. A comprehensive healthcare-focused unified communications and collaboration solution such as NEC’s Nurse Call system brings together voice and messaging to enable anytime, anywhere availability that puts patients first.
Being mobile ensures that healthcare staff can commuicate easily with colleagues and patients within the demanding environment of a healthcare facility. With mobile handsets and software-based clients, caregivers stay connected so that they can share information or request assistance immediately. A seamlessly integrated healthcare environment helps ensure better interactions with patients and improves delivery of attentive care where and when it’s needed most.

A Reliable Infrastructure to Back Up UC&C Capabilities

Since they often deliver critical life-saving and emergency services, healthcare facilities cannot tolerate service outages. By deploying a high-availability infrastructure, healthcare providers have a strong operational foundation to prevent potential service disruptions. Comprehensive protection of critical applications along with communications and collaboration give providers peace of mind as they provide ongoing patient care. A multi-tiered environment that recovers quickly should disasters occur provides added reassurance for healthcare providers. A high-availability solution supports a healthcare facility’s mission-critical capabilities and provides backup and recovery as necessary.

Consumerism will Continue to Drive Healthcare Delivery

As it has in many of industries, rising consumer awareness continues to have a profound effect on healthcare delivery. Using technology to improve service—from setting up an appointment to enabling staff communication to video diagnosis—will go a long way toward improving the patient experience, ultimately resulting in better patient outcomes.

Learn more about NEC’s smart healthcare solutions.

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Latest Moves in UC Landscape Reinforce Need for Customer Choice

Market disruptors are commonplace in the unified communications (UC) industry, particularly over the past decade. We’ve seen the advent of BYOD, demand for more mobility, a plethora of new apps, better efficiencies through integrated technology, as well as an ever-increasing movement to the cloud. The industry is evolving due to consolidations, mergers and acquisitions and the emergence of new niche players. The latest announcement by Mitel that it’s going private and accelerating its move to the cloud adds yet another element to the competitive landscape.

With this latest move, Mitel is signaling a focus on growing its cloud business. Though the company states that it will still offer on-premises options for now, it’s easy to assume that less R&D will be focused on that line of business going forward. Fewer choices will be available, especially for customers that are not ready or interested in moving to the cloud at this time. Channel partners selling both on-premises and cloud solutions could also be negatively impacted.

UC customers benefit more by having options, be it cloud, hybrid cloud or on-premises, depending on their current business situation. A provider that can optimize the technology already in place, while helping to create an effective ongoing UC strategy, is more important than ever.

History of Understanding Customers’ Needs

NEC has demonstrated an ability for knowing what customers need when they need it and bringing value to help improve their businesses. We pride ourselves on giving customers options. Throughout our nearly 120-year history, NEC has proven to be much more than a voice communications and UC provider. Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan noted in the 2016 Enterprise Communications Transformation Strategies Company of the Year Award , “As organizations seek business transformation, they often wish to upgrade or implement their networks and IT infrastructure for integration with business systems and processes, as well as communications systems.”

Frost & Sullivan pointed specifically to NEC’s Smart Enterprise strategy when recognizing the company for this award. The Smart Enterprise approach brings together communications, networking and IT solutions to help people work and communicate better.

NEC’s approach is not to combine disparate components. Instead, we tap into our services-based offerings of cloud UC, analytics, biometrics, IaaS and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to design communications and IT solutions that meet on-demand requirements. Our broad portfolio brings the agility, flexibility and efficiency required for business transformation. A wide range of technologies and services helps us create solutions that address customers’ current and future business needs and challenges by driving safety, security and operational efficiency. Our competitors really can’t offer that range of capabilities.

Additionally, here in the U.S., we have NEC Financial Services which delivers extraordinarily customizable leasing structures to customers nationwide. This allows customers to enjoy the benefits of an on-premises solution while taking advantage of the OPEX financial model which is the same as a cloud solution.

It’s a Matter of Choice

Each organization has its own requirements and aren’t easily configured into a “one size fits all” mold. They want options, and NEC has a track record of offering customers more choices. When moving to new UC solutions, customers benefit from being able to re-use or add value to their existing investments in communications technology. We can assist by offering on-premises, cloud or hybrid solutions. Our vast portfolio of solutions enables us to offer broader solutions to solve both IT and communications challenges.

Technology will continue to evolve. NEC has shown throughout our history that we have the capability of understanding customers’ needs and evolving our solutions to meet those needs.

Want to know more? Download this eBook for more on how NEC can help you.

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Having the technology edge can help you seize new opportunities faster, putting more distance between you and the competition. To learn more, fill out the form and download the ebook.

 
 
 
 



Join NEC at Enterprise Connect 2018: Enabling the Smart Enterprise to Thrive

The annual Enterprise Connect event attracts communications and IT professionals from around the world to delve into the newest technologies, share best practices, sample new ideas, and learn firsthand from expert insight. This year, Enterprise Connect 2018 in Orlando presents a chance to discover something new that could improve your organization’s operations, and potentially increase business opportunities as well.

For the past 20+ years, NEC has brought its biggest and brightest ideas to the conference and expo. We’ve always found this event to be an excellent opportunity to meet with our customers, prospects and partners and participate in conversations and idea exchanges in a more personal way.

Driving Digital Transformation

In 2018, NEC will be featuring an impressive display of its solutions for the Smart Enterprise. Current strategic business disruptors are driving digital transformation for today’s organizations—regardless of size or region. To help organizations thrive in this environment of change, NEC offers Smart Enterprise, a comprehensive approach to safety, security, efficiency and reliability—by integrating NEC’s own unique mix of technologies and solutions. We offer something that no other competitor can bring to the table.

Visitors to NEC’s expo booth #913 will see firsthand how digital transformation and advanced approaches for delivering and managing communications and IT services can help Smart Enterprises thrive.

A sampling of this year’s featured solutions includes:
• NEC’s industry-leading integrated IT and unified communications solutions
• Software Defined Networking (SDN) for secure, automated QoS
• Unique use of facial recognition for safety and security as well as demographics capture and analytics
• Workflow optimization through a common database and services shared amongst multiple software systems
• Self-service kiosks for better efficiency and improved customer service
• A human “in-the-loop” path to efficient and reliable Internet of Things (IoT) solutions
• Vertical-focused solutions designed for the specific needs of industries, including healthcare, government, hospitality and more. Workflow optimization, facial recognition and attendant solutions for healthcare will be highlighted in the booth, but similar methodologies can be used in other verticals as well

Solving Customers’ Biggest Headaches

Attendees will also learn how our customers are discovering ways to solve their most pressing pain points through NEC’s Smart Enterprise approach, such as:
• Tackling inefficient workflows and processes—both of which can have a negative effect on the overall customer experience
Reducing business disruptions related to technology and network issues
• Managing disparate databases across the enterprise and through partners
• Coping with insecure networks in the face of expanded cyber attacks
• Ensuring the physical safety of employees and customers alike

To learn more about how NEC customers are embracing Smart Enterprise solutions in their organizations, check out these case studies:


 

NEC Speakers at Enterprise Connect 2018

In addition to the Smart Enterprise experience in our booth, NEC speakers will be featured in several conference sessions. We invite you join us during the following time slots.

GENERAL SESSION
Thursday, March 15 | 10:15 am – 11:15 am
Resiliency, Disaster Recovery & Emergency Communications: New Threats, New Ways to Prepare
Sam Safa, Sr. Solutions Development Manager, of NEC Corporation of America, will join a roundtable of industry experts.

BREAKOUT SESSIONS

Wednesday, March 14 | 3:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Cloud Tradeoffs: Customization vs. Off-the-Shelf, Cost vs. Agility
JP Najar, Sr. Solutions Architect – Cloud, NEC Corporation of America, will participate in a roundtable discussion with vendor representatives.

CUSTOMER CASE STUDY SESSION:
Wednesday, March 14 | 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm
Real-World Enterprise Speech Tech Use Cases
This session features several use cases, including one from NEC customer Brad Hazelbaker, Network & Telecommunications Manager, of St. Elizabeth’s Healthcare who will also participate in the roundtable discussion.

We’re counting down the days until the Enterprise Connect conference kicks off on March 12. To save $500 off a full conference pass or get a FREE Expo Plus Pass, simply register through NEC’s Enterprise Connect web page and enter discount code: NEC.
We look forward to seeing you there!

For More Information
If you are interested in learning more about NEC Smart Enterprise solutions or would like to set up a meeting with an NEC expert during Enterprise Connect, please fill out and submit the following form. More information about attending Enterprise Connect is available here.

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UC M&A Activity Further Validates NEC’s Smart Enterprise Strategy

Seems like every time I read about what’s happening in the marketplace, I learn that there’s another merger or buy-out happening in the enterprise communications space. Mitel announced recently it is acquiring rival ShoreTel, reportedly to accelerate its “move-to-the-cloud” strategy. This acquisition, along with other recent moves by Avaya and Toshiba, only reinforces my belief in NEC’s strategy for the Smart Enterprise.

NEC’s long history and innovation heritage means we are much more than just a voice and UC company – we are a true enterprise technology pioneer with roots dating back more than 50 years in the United States and over 118 years in Japan.

In developing our wide range of technologies and services, we strive to build solutions that will address specific business needs and challenges by driving safety, security and operational efficiency. These solutions, when integrated and combined in various scenarios, form our portfolio for the Smart Enterprise – our definitive technology strategy for NEC’s vision of the future.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?But let’s get back to the cloud, and more specifically, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). NEC has developed a wide range of unified communications (UC) solutions that can be deployed in the cloud, on-premises or in a hybrid scenario.   For starters, NEC has a strong UCaaS offering called UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services. UNIVERGE BLUE allows a business to host all or just some of its UC in the cloud.  We also offer the UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE solution, which is a full phone and UC system deployed on premises with no large up-front investment.   The cloud allows us to offer SV9100 BLUE as an operating expense with a single bill for hardware and service.  All of this is offered today through our extensive channel partner network.

Our portfolio also includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), software defined networking (SDN), data center technologies, Unified Communications (on-premises, cloud and hybrid), biometrics, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence solutions. With a world-class network of Channel Partners and as a direct solutions integrator, we can deploy these solutions globally. Here in the U.S., we also have NEC Financial Services which delivers tailored leasing structures of extraordinary flexibility to customers nationwide.

Additionally, we are discovering new and innovative ways to utilize our biometrics solutions by integrating them with our other solutions. For instance, we have developed a virtual receptionist solution that integrates one of our biometrics applications with our Android™-based touch-screen UT880 telephone. The telephone can be placed in the lobby area and a remote worker is able to greet visitors and then screen them through our NeoFace Watch facial recognition application.

Don’t just take my word for it, the Boston Consulting Group named NEC as one of its 50 Most Innovative Companies and Frost & Sullivan recently honored NEC with their 2016 North America Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award for our market approach for the Smart Enterprise by stating, “NEC’s Smart Enterprise initiative is providing holistic enterprise communications transformation options that help customers adapt and flourish in the face of complex challenges.”

While the technology world is ever-changing, one thing that you can count on is NEC and our solutions for Smart Enterprise. We have demonstrated over the years our long-term commitment to our customers and to understanding their unique needs as well as their particular vertical industries. If you are ready to learn more about our solutions for Smart Enterprise and how they can help you optimize your business, please contact NEC today for a free consultation.

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Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated Communications System?

(Editor’s Note: This is an update to an article originally posted June 2, 2014.)

You know your communications system is way past its prime, and economic pressures have led you to delay its upgrade or replacement.

But there comes a point in time when it no longer makes sense to put off replacing your communications assets—from both a financial perspective and a business/productivity perspective. Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.

Plus, keep in mind; the greatest risk to your business if your communications go down is your business shuts down. This can lead to huge losses for your business, including customer dissatisfaction, customer loss, damaged reputation and costs related to regaining your reputation. These all can greatly affect your business and result in huge losses.

Phone systems are one of the assets that many companies take for granted as long as they have dial-tone. They don’t think much about it and will definitely spend their budget elsewhere if they can. As a result, many of these organizations are sitting on archaic (or end-of-life) equipment that is no longer efficiently supporting their business while possibly putting it a risk.

Yet for some, the prevailing practice is to continue operating the existing system well past its useful life and beyond the end-of-support – not realizing the potential costs and the risk they are putting their business in.

We often hear the following reasons to avoid upgrading:

  • We don’t have the budget, or there is a higher priority budgetary request.
  • The lifespan on the last communications system was too short.
  • We’re afraid that if we upgrade tomorrow, something better will come out next week (a.k.a. the cycle of obsolescence).
  • We’re unclear on our unified communications plans and how our phone system should fit in with UC.
  • Newer phone systems are becoming too complex to use.
  • The buying cycle is too long, and we will have to get too many people involved who will all have different opinions.
  • We don’t know which approach to take—i.e. premises, hybrid, or cloud-based.

There’s a chance that the phones you think are supporting your business aren’t. While the value of your older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

Free White Paper:  Time to Replace that Old PBX

We know the decision to move to a new telephony system is sometimes a difficult one to make. That’s why we’ve created the following list of 3 of the benefits of a modern unified communications system over an outdated phone system.

1. System Stabilization

If you are a business owner or decision maker, you have probably thought, “We save money keeping the old system. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Every day your business uses an analog, TDM, or older VoIP phone system that has reached end-of-life, you run the risk of having your phone system fail without access to support. If that happens, revenue will likely be lost as a result. How much? Well, you could lose what equates to hours, days, or even weeks of revenue—depending on the amount of time it takes to quickly repair or worst case find and install a new system. Not to mention what was previously stated about customer dissatisfaction and loss.

And hurrying to find a new system isn’t ideal. If your system fails, it could mean you are forced to make a quick replacement decision. Companies that don’t have the time or don’t take the time to research properly before purchase usually discover they’ve spent too much money or are unhappy with their purchase after it is too late to change it. Taking the time to find the right IP Telephony solution or Unified Communications solution will improve your business processes and efficiencies without over-extending your budget.

2. Improved Operational Costs

Maintaining separate systems like directories, conferencing software, voicemail, and telephony is expensive and time consuming for IT departments to sustain. In fact, it can be so time-consuming that the IT department spends the majority of their day keeping these systems functional—time that can be better spent on more strategic IT projects.

The older the system, the higher the operational cost is when you don’t upgrade. Some of the costs businesses accrue using older systems include:

  • Proprietary hardware at each location (equipment, phones, PBX)
  • Installation
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance, repairs and upgrades
  • Additional services
    • Fax
    • Business SMS
    • HD video meetings
    • Audio conferencing

When you factor the lost IT time spent maintaining each separate communications system with the opportunity cost of not having the advanced applications and features that modern unified communications provides, you end up with a total cost that is just too high for most businesses to ignore.

3. Competitive Advantage

Have you stopped to think about whether your competitors are taking advantage of modern communications software? If they are and you’re not, then chances are they are able to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Working smarter gives them an edge by increasing their productivity and creating a competitive advantage.

Your competitors that are working with updated communications systems, most likely have these advanced features at their disposal:

  • Audio/video/web collaboration, white boarding and document sharing
  • Support for the mobile workforce with a consistent user experience across smartphones and tablets
  • UC clients that provide status, presence, call history, call control plus more
  • Integrated vertical applications through standard and open services

While the cost of upgrading may seem high, the advanced applications and features associated with modern communications systems will help re-gain lost competitive edge and offer companies an opportunity to better serve their customers.

Unified communications can help businesses re-gain competitive advantage in two ways:

First, a new system can help you increase your revenue by providing your business with the communications applications needed to be more productive and efficient. You could gain better advantages and increased competitive edge by choosing a modern solution with a lower total cost of ownership and features that enable collaboration across your business, improving the speed of your communications.

Secondly, UC provides communications software that makes enterprise-level communications applications available on an ad-hoc basis. This either gives you access to applications that you might not have previously been able to budget for, or, saves your organization money as you no longer have to pay the fees required to utilize multiple services. Replacing hosted web, audio or video conferencing services is a perfect example. The accrued savings can boost the return on your unified communications investment, and expand your competitive edge through re-investment into other IT projects that help your business grow.

Increased Productivity

If you fear that your new technology will become obsolescent and use that as an excuse to avoid upgrading, you shouldn’t. Look for vendors that offer software assurances and extended warranties for hardware that will provide your business with more security and less risk in the long run.

With a modern communications solution, you ensure that your system has the flexibility to handle rapid growth, giving you the ability to provide support to your increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. Your IT team will re-gain some of their time, allowing them to focus on other strategic IT initiatives. And, your employees will re-coup benefits that improve the speed of communication from access to applications that positively impact your daily business—whether it’s through more efficient collaboration with colleagues, or improving customer response times.

Options Available to Your Business

Ultimately there is a high cost, in terms of inefficiencies and operational cost, when you continue to operate an outdated or end-of-life phone system.

Some organizations struggle with selecting the best model (premises, hybrid, or cloud-based) to meet long-term communication needs. Ultimately you’ll look for the platform and vendor that has the flexibility to customize the right solution to meet your specific needs.

Smart Enterprise

Free White Paper
Time to Replace that Old PBX

To learn more about the risks associated with running an outdated communications system and the steps you should take in purchasing a new system, fill out the form to download the white paper written by Dave Michels, principal analyst at TalkPointz.