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Reducing expenses at Ochsner Health System

by Leon Zebrick, Director, Ochsner Medical Center | January 25, 2013
From the January 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Hospitals and health care organizations, more than ever, need to take definitive steps towards reducing operating expenses. Wouldn’t it be great to achieve significant savings in a manner that does not impose a corresponding loss on individuals (reduction in force) or demand external organizations to adopt unsustainably reduced margins as a requirement of maintaining their business relationship with your organization? Sometimes, such lofty goals can be met using today’s technology.

This was the case when Ochsner Health System in New Orleans decided to replace its fleet of aging “legacy” copiers with new, networked multi-function devices (MFDs) capable of printing documents within the PC and mainframe environments, sending and receiving faxes over the hospital’s IS infrastructure (fax over IP), scanning/emailing documents, and of course, making copies. These new MFDs were obtained with no capital outlay, and on a cost per copy basis with the vendor. The machines are reducing expenses at Ochsner while providing a reasonable profit for the supplier, adding function for the employees, and to top it off, wasting less paper and packaging, and consuming less electricity.

Print migration drives the ROI
Key to realizing cost savings is the decommissioning of numerous conventional printers as print work originating from PC environments is redirected to shared MFDs. As anyone who purchases printer cartridges knows, the cost of ownership for a single printer is high. At the start of Ochsner’s project, the printer count (technically referred to as “output devices”) numbered in the thousands, so you can imagine the savings in ink alone!

The same holds true for fax machines. Migrating fax to the MFDs not only saves money on supplies, but allows elimination of another expense, the analog PBX port.

Rules-based printing boosts the savings
Software helps reduce waste by monitoring print requests and gently making suggestions to end-users (when warranted). An example of this may be to suggest a print redirect to the hospital’s copy and mail center for a very high volume job in order to take advantage of the even lower cost-per-copy offered by high volume “production” machines located there. Rules-based printing is very flexible and allows system administrators to develop printing guidelines suitable for their organization’s culture and to help drive operations in a direction necessary to meet cost objectives. Another example where a pop-up dialog box may be useful would be “duplex printing override” – where in order to print single sided, a requester must enter an action after reading the system’s environmentally friendly explanation as to why duplex printing is good for all.

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