Dorset County Hospital turns to Multitone to deliver its critical communications requirements


Flagship i-Message system adds flexibility in message delivery and offers increased peace of mind

Multitone is supplying Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust with its flagship i-Message integrated communications system.

The new solution provides a centralised and intelligent communications hub that is intuitive to use, uses the localised wireless network to reduce the mobile provider costs, offers an automatic switchover in the event of a fault, and allows for easier integration of mobile smart devices as part of the raft of contact options on offer.

One of the potential fears with the previous system was failover and i-Message directly counters this. Clark Peacock at Multitone explains: “The new system is dual-server based and will automatically switch over if there is a fault with one of the servers, significantly enhancing resilience. The system needs to be available all the time and if there is a problem it needs to be resolved quickly. Also, the trust wanted to take advantage of using a unified communications platform, moving away from people carrying around multiple devices to just carrying one device that manages all communications.”

Staff at Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust were carrying around their own mobile device in addition to a work pager, which was inconvenient both with regards to functionality and physically carrying additional weight.

Brian Stalker, ICT infrastructure manager at the trust, said: “Staff sometimes carried up to three or four devices - using one device was clearly more convenient and cost effective. The entire NHS is looking to reduce costs, so utilising existing mobile phones that people have already, a realistic and effective Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, is a useful feature for us.”

Another major draw in using i-Message is that it can cost-effectively integrate communications between the trust’s sites in Dorchester and Weymouth.

Stalker said: “This is one of the bigger benefits for us. We had an existing link with BT between the two sites, purely for paging, but it was very expensive. With the i-Message system we can communicate across the existing network link, which means we don’t need to use the old BT link and we estimate this has actually saved us around £5,000 per year.”

The core needs to upgrade were very clear. Stalker said: “The reasons for upgrading our critical communications were two-fold. The previous system had served us well, using two servers. If one server failed you could cut over to the other, which was effective, but it had to be done manually which increased the time needed to restore it in an emergency. Also, the original team members at the trust that administered this function had left the company and this had become the responsibility of the central IT team, increasing its potential workload.”

The wider benefits from using Multitone’s i-Message have become very clear. “Switchboard operators can message people instantly though a variety of methods directly from the one console screen,” said Stalker.

“Our operators are instantly guided to who they need to contact and how they are contacting them. Whereas other systems tend to work on a divert system and very much rely on the user to set up the divert (using the desk top phone to a mobile phone for example), i-Message automatically routes calls or messages to the most convenient communications. If an individual is out of the office for example, i-Message allows us to reach them rapidly by whichever communications method is most suitable for their location or circumstances.”

The new i-Message based system has already met and surpassed the expectations required of it by Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Stalker concludes: “We needed an improved critical communications system that could be implemented quickly and optimised for our use. Multitone has done just that, installing a system that provides a control system that switchboard operators are happy and comfortable to use. It uses a screen-based console instead of the old switchboard terminal and has been adapted very well, making it easy for operators to rapidly contact the right person. Multitone has provided training and support right from the beginning of the project – meaning our operators have been very happy taking to the system and are now training other members internally.”

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