In May 2013, St Anne’s Hospital Communications Manager, Lynne Hall, was on a mission. Her mission was to find a replacement push-to-talk (PTT) solution to the IDEN Nextel network which Sprint was phasing out mid-year. The hospital staff loved the convenience of using PTT to instantly talk to other staff located throughout the hospital. It was faster than dialing a phone number, the device was simple to use, and service was reliable.
Since the Nextel network was scheduled to shut down in June 2013, Hall lost no time looking for options that could be implemented immediately and at little cost. This included PTT services from the four major phone carriers. While most were good PTT solutions, they were not feasible due to the cost and time needed to implement them. Some carriers quoted as much as a half million dollars of infrastructure changes would be needed to implement their PTT service. Since the hospital had no budget for such changes, that left Hall with only one logical choice - T-Mobile and their recommended PTT solution, Zello@Work.
As Hall jokingly recounts, the hospital already had a T-Mobile “antenna on the chimney” so coverage was excellent. By using Zello@Work with T-Mobile, no money was spent upgrading infrastructure or buying specialized carrier devices. Zello’s simple-to-use interface and PTT function was reminiscent of Nextel; thus, making the transition from Nextel to Zello effortless for staff.
Unlike other carrier PTT services, Zello@Work runs on any carrier’s data network or Wi-Fi. Since Zello runs cross platform on most popular devices (including Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and PCs) it is ideal for companies that want to gradually replace older devices with newer ones. The hospital’s long-term plan is to eventually replace all the Blackberry devices with Androids.
Hall’s decision on a PTT solution ultimately hinged on the cost to implement and use. When comparing Zello@Work to other PTT options, Zello was also affordable to use - starting at just $5/user/month. There was no binding contract, and the number of users could easily be reduced or increased without any penalty or fees. Additionally, Zello offered volume and annual payment discounts.
With all the advantages that Zello had to offer over the carrier solutions, it was a no-brainer for Hall to choose Zello for a trial. With expert guidance provided by the Zello team, the trial was a success. By late 2013, the rollout to all 400 hospital-owned devices was completed.
Impressed by Zello’s reliability, fast connectivity, and voice quality, the hospital now uses Zello as one of two primary means of communications within a redundant system. Zello is used alongside SPOK, a system which uses traditional PBX, pagers, intercoms, and texting for communications. Zello was the only means of communication during one memorable blizzard when St Anne’s backup generator failed, causing the entire SPOK system to go down.
While many doctors and emergency staff still use pagers, Hall also plans to gradually replace pagers with Zello as they become broken or lost. In the process, the hospital will save approximately $24,000 a year in pager fees. Unlike pagers, Zello has the ability to store audio messages in history, providing the staff a way to replay messages at any time. Zello saves precious seconds of time compared to phone calls or texting. As Hall puts it, “With Zello you just press the button and talk.”
In addition to being easy to use, Zello is also easy to manage. With Zello’s web-based admin console, Hall can easily manage settings for all 400 user devices on the network from one place. By defining “channels” within the network, Hall can separate employees into logical groups and subgroups.
St Anne’s Hospital has used Zello@Work continuously since 2013, without any downtime or major problems. Based on her positive experience, Hall is confident that many other health care facilities would also benefit by installing Zello@Work as part of their communications system solution.
Located in Fall River, MA, St Anne’s Hospital is part of the Steward Health Care System. Steward Health Care was formed in 2010 and serves patients located in Massachusetts and surrounding areas. St Anne’s provides award-winning care to patients of all ages. From advanced medical and surgical care, to health education and outreach, St Anne’s Hospital is vital to the health and well-being of its local communities.