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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

Single sign-on promotes adoption/acceptance
Ochsner’s MFDs are equipped with proximity card readers that work with the employees existing ID badges. “Authenticating” at a machine (necessary to activate all functions) simply requires a swipe of the card.

Maintenance considerations
When a conventional copy machine breaks, it’s a nuisance. When a shared MFD goes down, it’s analogous to multiple printer failure. The failed MFD must be serviced rapidly. Fortunately, today’s units are very reliable and through their network connections, proactively notify service personnel of pending problems (or low toner). Ochsner takes two approaches to ensuring the service need will be met. First, vendor-supplied on-site “fleet managers” were negotiated into the contract. Next, Ochsner IS department call-center software was interfaced with the vendor’s maintenance management system. Now, whenever the Ochsner IS call center opens a service ticket, a corresponding service ticket is opened in the vendor’s system. This eliminates communication delays and allows Ochsner personnel to monitor and stay on top of each event.

Transitioning from legacy copy machines to MFDs is essentially an IS project; a fairly large one. The aforementioned single sign-on function is important because there are multiple software platforms running behind the scenes. The card swipe, in a single stroke, logs-on the user to all of the necessary programs. Getting all that to work as it should requires good partnership, IS to vendor.

As technically demanding as the transition is, its challenges pale in comparison to the end-users who refuse to relinquish “their” printers and begin sharing an MFD. In addition to a good communications plan prior to roll-out, an organization would be wise to consider in advance how such situations will be handled. Sometimes the end-user has a legitimate need to go “off plan” and retain his or her office-based printer. Some type of an approval process is suggested. Requiring CFO sign-off on such variances is a good approach.

Selecting a partner
The health care environment poses unique challenges; it is important to select a vendor with the appropriate level of experience - HIPPA considerations, wristband printing, and ability to interface with the electronic medical record, are all important considerations. There are many more and one can easily see why the early involvement of IS staff is so imperative.

The future
Once the print migration level needed to support the original ROI is achieved, project teams can begin looking closely at how the new technology can be used to improve workflows. Documents could be scanned into a “holding tank” and retrieved at any MFD on the network, even at other campuses. Could that reduce the demand for courier services?

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