Cloud-Based Communications System Aids Non-Profit

A growing challenge for organizations with distributed offices and employees is connecting people to each other, along with the data they require when and where they need it. At Intercommunity Action, a 45-year-old not-for-profit organization that provides clinical and psychological services at 30 community living facilities and seven public schools in the Philadelphia School District, the task has grown far more complex in recent years.

“We have a broad need to communicate effectively, while staying within our funding model,” states Mike Mann, vice president for IT Services and Operations.

The task is further complicated by the strict privacy requirements mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and a growing trend toward relying on contract physicians rather than on-staff physicians, nurses and therapists.

“We have 25 mobile clinicians and other professionals that see a set number of clients, and we pay them by the hour,” he says. “In the past, people sometimes had to share a single desk with a single computer and phone. We needed to provide phone and email systems that could be accessed from anywhere.”

Earlier this year, Intercommunity Action turned to Broadview’s OpenXchange Email and OfficeSuite Phone solutions to bridge its five offices and mobile teams. The cloud-based environment delivers integrated unified communications (UC) capabilities, while providing the organization with tools to manage roles, privileges and overall security.

“We have the ability to provide access to specific components and features,” Mann says. In addition, cloud-based online storage enables staff and contractors to access and share documents quickly and securely.

“With our previous system, I would have to set up and change individual voice mail accounts for our staff, but now every employee can manage personal preferences and settings,” Mann adds. Among other things, those relying on the system can use a digital receptionist, along with extension-to-extension dialing and personalized voice mail that’s accessible from anywhere.

“Today, when a clinician starts to work with us, the phone number they receive becomes their phone number regardless of where they plug in,” Mann explains. “They also receive messages and other data immediately, and everything follows the person to the current location.”

Eliminating local administration for email and storage has saved staff time and resources, while boosting security. The organization has only two people handling IT tasks.

In the past, “We found ourselves falling back on USB sticks and other methods to manage files and data,” Mann says. “There were risks associated with the way people were using the systems.” In addition, the controls allow Intercommunity Action to better manage the way data and documents are shared with other organizations.

The system has also delivered other gains, including an ability to bill faster and in a more streamlined way. “We have eliminated stacks of paper and improved our cash flow,” Mann notes. “We are now able to achieve the level of service and connectivity necessary to operate in today’s business environment.”

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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