Mt. Sinai Hospital prescribes voice-over-IP

Mount Sinai Hospital is installing voice-over-IP in order to cut its telecommunications operating costs.

The Toronto-based health centre, which has installed 150 Nortel IP phones to date, expects to save money by making it easier

to move, add or change users’ phone extensions, said Dr. Lynn Nagle, the hospital’s chief information officer.

Mount Sinai is “”trying to mitigate rising health-care costs”” by installing a system that is designed to reduce operating costs over the long term, Nagle added.

Nagle spoke Monday to an audience of about 130 at an IP telephony seminar hosted by Telus Corp. and Nortel Networks Corp. at the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto.

Mount Sinai plans to install a total of 398 phones (including the 150 already in place) using a combination of Norteal’s i2004, i2002 and i2050 models. The hospital’s private branch exchange (PBX) is a Nortel Succession Communications Server for Enterprise (CSE) 1000, which is designed to support up to 1,000 clients. It also uses three Nortel Passport 8600 routing switches and 40 BayStack Business Policy switches (with five more scheduled for installation).

Much of the installation was done by Burnaby, B.C.-based Telus Corp., while Mississauga, Ont.-based Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd. provides managed services, Nagle said.

In addition to promised cost savings, a major reason for the move to IP telephony was the fact that Mount Sinai has more than one location. For example, in 2001, it took over a floor of the former Ontario Hydro building, located near the hospital on University Ave. and College St.

While some organizations install voice-over-IP in new locations (where they don’t already have legacy equipment), different organizations are attracted to the technology for different reasons, said Jim Metzler, a consultant with Sanibel, Fla.-based Ashton, Metzler & Associates.

The research and consulting firm conducted a survey in which customers were asked why they installed IP telephony. Respondents cited several different reasons. For example, 16 per cent said it was to cut down on phone bills, 16 per cent said they wanted to cut down on administrative costs while 11 per cent said it’s easier to deploy applications which could be integrated with IP telephony.

Although IP telephony wasn’t as popular two years ago as it is now, Metzler said many organizations have been upgrading their IP networks, and as a result, they are better able to handle voice traffic.

Nagle said one of the reasons Mount Sinai installed VoIP was to take advantage of the fact that the hospital made major improvements to its IT systems in order to prepare for the year 2000.

Since 1998, the number of users has increased from 850 to

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