Customer Insights

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America’s Best Hospitals Use Communication Director for Efficient and Affordable Report Delivery

Sarasota Memorial



Florida’s Sarasota Memorial Hospital has been a Forward Advantage customer since 1999 when it implemented Communication Director to replace its manual system for reports delivery. One of America’s 10 largest public hospitals, and consistently ranked in the nation’s 50 best for quality and safety, the organization employs 160 different systems and required a solution that could work with any third-party vendor application. The solution also needed to accommodate a large number of physicians (nearly 900 on staff and many others located across the U.S. and Canada).

Report Delivery that’s Efficient and Cost Effective

Forward Advantage’s Communication Director is a platform that allows users to send reports to a virtual network printer. SmartRoute technology uses rules to automate faxing and intelligently determine a report’s recipient and his or her delivery preference. Reports can be delivered in a variety of ways, including: fax, e-mails, printers, smart phones, and file transfer. Reports can also be faxed on demand using DesktopFax, which extends faxing to any program that uses Windows® printing. Users simply select the print command and then choose a recipient from a preconfigured list.

Prior to Communication Director, all reports at Sarasota Memorial were printed and mailed or delivered by a local company. This was a challenge because of the large quantity of reports produced on a daily basis, mostly from the hospital’s Laboratory department. “Since implementing Communication Director, we can now fax information in a timely manner without having to rely on a delivery truck,” says Beard. “We’re also spending less on paper, ink, and electricity. It’s estimated that in the Lab alone, we’re saving at least a million sheets of paper a year.”

A Configurable System that Works with Any Third-Party Application

Sarasota Memorial has more than 25,000 physician and vendor profiles set up in Communication Director. “We can easily configure these profiles to indicate the type of report a recipient wants to receive and if they only want to receive faxes during a certain time of day,” says Beard. “It’s a very manageable system, and we’ve integrated it with some of our other applications to automatically update when a new physician is added to our network.”

Reports are delivered at Sarasota Memorial using both SmartRoute and DesktopFax to meet the needs of a variety of departments and end users. Departments with a smaller output, such as Endoscopy and Home Health Care, find that DesktopFax meets their needs. Those with a higher report volume benefit from SmartRoute’s automation. For example, Sarasota Memorial’s Radiology department sends approximately 1500 faxes a day ranging from two to five pages per fax. To streamline this process, a SmartRoute is configured to automatically send Radiology reports after they are electronically signed. The applications at Sarasota Memorial that are set up with a SmartRoute include: Syngo by Siemens, MEDITECH’s Laboratory application, Allscript’s Sunrise Clinical Manager (SCM) Electronic Medical Record, PeopleSoft by Oracle, and Allscript’s AM/PFM Patient Management and Billing application. “I have yet to see an application that couldn’t work with Communication Director,” says Beard.

“The system works in any environment where you have access to a network printer and allows us to send patient reports to physicians in a timely and cost-effective manner. We work with a variety of physicians who have patients that come to Florida for the winter, so this allows them to maintain a high level of care despite the distance.”

The System Activity Monitor and SmartAlert

Sarasota Memorial went live with Communication Director after less than a week of implementation time. The implementation included the built-in System Activity Monitor, which monitors all activity on the Communication Director server and provides an audit trail of every report. “We only fax patient information to prevent protected information from being disclosed under Florida’s Sunshine Law,” continues Beard. “We keep the actual faxes for seven days, but the audit trail is stored indefinitely. This allows us to easily look up who a fax went to, the fax number, the date and time it was sent, and whether a fax was delivered successfully.”

Forward Advantage’s SmartAlert solution was recently added to alert the system administrator of any performance issues. Alerts are received via e-mail and are so efficient that issues are typically resolved before end users are aware of a problem. The application can reside on any workstation or server and is configurable to alert according to a variety of parameters, such as changes in report input or output volumes.

A True Return on Investment

Communication Director has been credited for increased efficiency and notable cost savings at Sarasota Memorial; however, recently the System Activity Monitor also proved valuable on its own. The hospital staff was able to use the audit function to prove that a specific patient’s records were delivered on time and to the correct physician, protecting the hospital from threatened litigation. “Forward Advantage is one of our best vendors and always comes through for us,” says Beard. “Communication Director and the System Activity Monitor are invaluable to our healthcare institution.”

“Sarasota Memorial has been a valued customer for many years,” concludes Lee Howard, vice president of client services at Forward Advantage. “We’re pleased that our solution was able to help the hospital in this valuable way, and we look forward to working with them on their future initiatives, such as expanding Communication Director to include inbound faxing across their organization.”

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