Visions of Quality

Verteks Consulting helps Ocala Eye improve the health of its IT infrastructure with comprehensive managed services and network and phone system upgrades.

Quality patient care is the goal of every healthcare provider, but the reality is that many highly trained and specialized caregivers can spend much of their time doing administrative tasks rather than delivering care. The network infrastructure requiredto support electronic health records and other key applications must operate at optimum efficiency to ensure that doctors, nurses and administrators aren’t hindered by operational obstructions.

When Don Cushing became Chief Executive Officer of Ocala Eye two and a half years ago, he was determined to ensure the practice’s team of medical professionals would not be impeded by network issues. He began searching for a technology partner to streamline, stabilize and secure the group’s IT infrastructure. Verteks Consulting fit the bill.

“Some of our doctors can see 60 patients in a day, but they can only do that if everything is up and running,” said Cushing.

“The real essence of IT for us is that we need all systems to function effectively so that we can properly leverage our team of very smart, highly educated, skilled people to give quality care and service to as many patients as needed.

“We asked Verteks to come in, evaluate the network and make a series of recommendations. Working with the Verteks people, my IT team got a little sharper and, together, they put together a terrific system. It took us about a year to get there, but as of July we have had a year with no downtime.”

“I think Verteks would say we’re a pretty demanding customer, but their guys were just stellar at putting this in. They listen to the customer. They understand the call center business.”

No Room for Failure

Cushing says the significance of network uptime can’t be overstated. Ocala Eye is the premier ophthalmology and laser eye surgery practice in North Central Florida, with a staff of 10 board-certified ophthalmologists trained in every major subspecialty of ophthalmic care. The network connects five locations and 155 employees over a 25-mile radius.

“Our IT system is really the central nervous system for the business,” said Cushing. “All of our financial recordkeeping comes out of IT, our entire billing system depends on software, and we’ve been on electronic health records for about 10 years.

“Literally nobody in this organization can work without access to our data.”

Ocala Eye has never experienced a business-threatening network issue, in part because its previous IT staff had built a fairly sophisticated infrastructure. However, the company became vulnerable when two key engineers left the company.

“There’s as much art as science in designing a network,” said Cushing. “Network engineers build stuff they know and understand, but not necessarily to a common set of standards. The guys who were here were really smart, but they did it their way — which worked really well as long as they were here to maintain it.”

Network Upgrades

To provide Ocala Eye with a bit of technology insurance, Verteks engineers evaluated the network, mapped the topology and suggested modifications to ensure best practices and quality of service. Verteks also provided guidance on a threat protection program that includes the use of virtual LANs to segregate different areas of the network and to improve mobile security.

Verteks President Don Gulling also guided Cushing to another significant upgrade opportunity. Gulling was aware that the city of Ocala had recently begun offering private businesses the opportunity to lease excess capacity in the city’s fiber optic network. It would be practically impossible for a smaller business such as Ocala Eye to build such a state-of-the-art network, which the city uses for phone, Internet, emergency communications, traffic control and other critical services. “We switched over to that about six months ago, and it is saving us about $12,000 a month in network costs,” said Cushing. “That only happened because of Don’s suggestion and a lot of prodding on his part.”

Improved Communications

Additionally, Verteks upgraded Ocala Eye’s aging phone system. Verteks recommended, configured and implemented a ShoreTel Unified Communications solution that is easy to use, delivers advanced functionality and cuts costs. Staff members love the functionality of the system, particularly the Communicator software. With ShoreTel Communicator’s built-in tools, end-users can make a call at the touch of a button and easily turn it into a multimedia collaboration session. The software also integrates with Microsoft Outlook for a oneclick collaboration experience.

“I’ve done a few computer system and phone system implementations and this is the smoothest one that I’ve ever done — I was barely involved in it,” said Cushing. “The Verteks people came in, they trained everybody, we turned it on, and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from everybody. The communication across the whole organization has improved.

“I think Verteks would say we’re a pretty demanding customer, but their guys were just stellar at putting this in. They listen to the customer. They understand the call center business.”

After working with Ocala Eye’s IT staff on all those upgrades, Verteks was also enlisted to provide ongoing maintenance and comprehensive support. Verteks monitors Ocala Eye’s systems and handles all of the updates and other routine maintenance tasks. Cushing values Verteks’ ability to respond rapidly when an issue arises, either through remote or on-site remediation.

“I have to say, I was really surprised to find a company of Verteks’ sophistication here in Ocala,” said Cushing. “It’s not just the technical expertise — which I think is superb — or the quality of their people, but it’s the way the company is managed. Don operates the company from a values perspective. He’s a Gulf War veteran, and he brings some of that military accountability to bear. I would give them an A+.”

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