It’s Skype that binds them

9 October 2019

In the greater south of our state, two NSW Health organisations have transitioned to the state-wide platform for Skype for Business, a tool that is helping to transform the way in which modern healthcare is delivered.

Southern NSW and Murrumbidgee Local Health Districts were early adopters of Skype for Business, having implemented their own successful platform around five years ago.

Face-to-face meetings might be the norm for city-based health organisations but it’s not an option when you have 80 facilities spread over 125,561 square kilometres and serving a population of more than 240,700.

Home to four large Aboriginal nations – the Gundungurra, Ngunnawal, Ngarigo and Yuin – the combined area is so vast that it takes eight hours to traverse by car. So, Skype for Business makes good business sense.

It took a lot of confidence from health organisations of this size to hand over control of their primary communication and collaboration tool and one they had custom-built to suit their unique needs.

According to Andrew Elliott, Chief Information Officer of Southern NSW and Murrumbidgee LHDs, it made sense to move to the state-wide platform.

“eHealth NSW offers very competitive pricing for state-wide Skype for Business,” Mr Elliott said.

“We now operate the platform at a lower cost and the dual-system infrastructure was something we simply couldn’t afford to build ourselves.

“Plus, the ongoing availability of new features and tools such as enterprise voice and access to the state-wide conferencing platform was appealing, as these are features that our workforce will be quick to adopt.

“The reporting tools give us real business insights into usage, who’s using what features and where. That provides us with the ability to get the best out of Skype for Business through proactive engagement with our people and continuous improvement.”

On any given day, staff across NSW Health are using Skype for Business in a myriad of ways, said Jason Matthews, Program Director, Unified Conference, Collaboration and Wireless for eHealth NSW.

“For example, Skype for Business is invaluable in clinical use cases such as Telestroke, where specialists in city-based hospitals collaborate to diagnose stroke patients,” said Mr Matthews.

“It enables microbiologists to return test results in hours instead of days, where it’s standard practice to courier samples to large state laboratories. It allows nurses visiting patients in their homes to hold consultations with clinicians in hospitals.

“Skype for Business is helping to transform the way healthcare is being delivered across NSW Health. It’s fast becoming the go-to platform for communication and collaboration, with around 50,000 conversations, and over 3,000 unique conferences with more than 16,000 attendees across NSW Health every week.”

Skype for Business connects NSW Health staff with colleagues across LHDs and across the state via instant messaging, voice, or video calls. It enables staff to see when contacts are available online, in a meeting, or presenting. Other features include its ability to broadcast online to a large audience, share screens during meetings or give control to others.

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