How a telecommunications provider can give a business the speed it needs Featured

8:01pm EDT August 31, 2012
How a telecommunications provider can give a business the speed it needs

When Dr. Hansen Chang’s medical practice began to grow, he needed to double his office space. Chang, who shares his practice with another physician, opened his medical office 15 years ago as a place where patients could receive expertise in both Eastern and Western medicine.

Within a decade, the two physicians, board certified in internal medicine and acupuncture, had grown the medical practice to six full-time employees, with a patient load of 10,000.

“Our practice was expanding and we were looking to move from a smaller office to a larger location 10 miles away in Berkeley Lake,” says Chang.

Along with the need for a larger office space, Chang’s telecommunications needs were also growing, and the office’s old T1 line was not able to handle the massive volume of data transfer that took place on a daily basis.

Smart Business spoke with Chang about the telecommunications needs his growing medical practice faced and the solution that worked for him.

What kind of telecommunications challenges did you face before your move into the larger space?

We were using a telecommunications provider that provided us with a T1 line. Not only was the smaller office incapable of handling our growing patient flow, but the T1 line, although reliable, was extremely slow and overloaded.

Additionally, medical records are required to be transferred electronically, which was part of the problem. Laboratory services that use email added to the issue. Lastly, the pharmacy needed a reliable connection. We needed a telecommunications provider that could accommodate all of this and make things more efficient with a faster Internet connection.

In a medical practice, security is paramount because we deal with sensitive material and personal patient information, so having a secure and reliable connection was important to us.

Why did you choose Comcast Business Class for the new office space?

We constructed the new office from the ground up and at the time there were no fiber optic lines or cables in the location, so we had to find someone who could build our cable infrastructure and complete it before we moved in. Because we deal with health emergencies regularly, we also needed to ensure that the transition was seamless and that we didn’t experience any downtime.

We evaluated various carriers, but Comcast offered fast Internet speeds as well as Norton Security Suite and Cloud Services from Microsoft, so that made it easy to choose.

The actual switch took place outside regular business hours, when the phone lines were forwarded to an answering service, but it was instantaneous.

We also wanted a private static IP address to access medical records from anywhere — from the office computer, home computers or laptops, so that if an emergency call came through, medical records could be accessed remotely. This private IP would also allow for viewing and transferring data safely and securely.

Additionally, Comcast Business Class provided a bundled phone line with our Internet service so we now work with one provider rather than multiple companies.

How long did the process take?

The planning stage took approximately a month, but it was worthwhile because the process went so smoothly. After that, the actual cutover was instantaneous and was done over the weekend before the new office opened on a Monday.

How has the new system helped your medical practice run more smoothly?

In order to provide a reliable service, we require a reliable backbone. With the high volume of patients coming in, efficiency is key. For example, patients should be able to go straight to the pharmacy after the doctor’s visit to pick up prescriptions, have a lab report emailed directly to them, and all their insurance information entered and sent instantaneously. Without a reliable network, this would not be a smooth process for our patients.

Communication is key in the medical business, and doctors are using more electronic devices and methods to do this. The system works very well now but as the practice expands, there may be a need for increased speed or bandwidth, which can be easily done.

What other factors are critical with the service?

Reliability comes first. Speed is next. Downtime can be disastrous in a medical practice, as missed phone calls from the ER or a pharmacy can be critical.

When dealing with human lives our telecommunications system is critical. To be able to handle any type of emergency, I have to put my trust in my provider’s network.

Dr. Hansen Chang runs an internal medicine and acupuncture practice in Berkeley Lake, Ga. Reach him at doctorsLLC@hotmail.com or (770) 454-9047.

Anthony Catinella is director of sales for Comcast Business Services. Reach him at Anthony_Catinella@cable.comcast.com or  (770) 559-2132.

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