Transtector Reins in Printing with a Shared, Consolidated Solution from Ricoh and IKON

Brian BradburyThey were spending a significant amount of money on toner cartridges, repairs and buying the actual printers.
– Brian Bradbury, Business Partner in IT organization at Smiths Group

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A Proliferation of Printers

At Transtector headquarters in Hayden Lake, Idaho, print devices were numerous and abundant. “We had 76 different print devices at this location,” said Brian Bradbury, Business Partner in the IT organization at Smiths Group, Transtector’s parent company. “It was a wide variety of items, from laser printers to scanners, fax machines to desktop printers. There must have been six or eight different brand names and as many as forty or fifty different models of devices. So you can imagine what it was like to try to keep track of the toner cartridges and repairs of those devices as they needed assistance.”

Transtector Systems is a manufacturer of power protection products, including signal protection, EMP/EMI filters, power distribution units (PDU) and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Transtector is a subsidiary of Smiths Group, a global technology conglomerate based in London, England, that operates in more than 50 countries.  Smiths’ annual revenue is $7 billion, and Transtector represents $80 million of that amount.

A proliferation of printers is common in enterprises, especially when purchasing decisions are decentralized. You can imagine how it might happen: The sales team decides to buy inkjet printers for their desks. The accounting department has its own laser printer, and accounts receivable and accounts payable each have dedicated fax machines. Marketing invests in a scanner and color laser printer. And so it goes until print devices are ubiquitous.

From the perspective of Transtector’s users, the situation seemed to work well. The company had an agreement with a VAR to receive discounted pricing for top-model, brand-name printers. When printer ink ran low, employees used an expense report to buy new cartridges, and when a print device wore out, they bought a new one. This ad hoc approach met their basic printing needs.

“It is only when you reviewed the costs from the top-down that you see the impact to the overall organization,” noted Bradbury. “They were spending a significant amount of money on toner cartridges, repairs and buying the actual printers.”

Shared, Consolidated Printing Solution on Lease

As a member of Smiths centralized IT organization, Bradbury’s job was to present corporate best practices and special pricing agreements to Transtector and help manage implementations. Smiths had negotiated a contract with the printer manufacturer Ricoh to visit Smiths’ portfolio companies, review their printer needs and spending and supply consolidated printing “kits” on lease that would deliver hard savings. The kits included Ricoh Aficio multi-function printers as well as ongoing equipment maintenance and toner.

All I do is buy the paper and pay the use fee on the lease, and it saves five thousand dollars a month as we move forward.
– Brian Bradbury

A team from IKON, Ricoh’s document management subsidiary, performed an assessment of Transtector and proposed a kit that would consolidate print devices dramatically. Transtector approved it and the new solution was rolled out. “We ended up with 12 devices instead of 76. They are multi-function devices placed strategically throughout our facility. I don’t maintain it. All I do is buy the paper and pay the use fee on the lease, and it saves five thousand dollars a month as we move forward,” said Bradbury.

As part of the maintenance process, IKON monitored printer usage and performance. Their technicians noticed that 3 of the 12 devices were outputting higher than anticipated print counts. So IKON swapped them out for larger models that could maintain higher levels of printing without overtaxing the equipment. “They do a fantastic job of maintaining the process, reviewing it and making sure each location has the equipment necessary for the particular demand,” he said.

Everyone Pleased, Eventually

Transtector executives and financial staff were pleased with the $5,000 monthly savings and positive contribution to profit margins, though users initially had difficulty seeing the value of removing the printers from their desk or immediate work area and putting one 20 feet down the hall. It just seemed inconvenient. However, they eventually warmed up to the value of higher availability and faster repair times. If a print device had a problem, users no longer had to roll up their sleeves and try to troubleshoot it. Instead they submitted a helpdesk ticket and Ricoh/IKON technicians took care of it. They could send print jobs to next closest printer in the meantime. After a few months of experiencing the consistency and low hassle of a shared and externally-maintained printing solution, users also felt positive about it.

Successful IT projects like this also build credibility and make Bradbury’s job easier as he proposes new initiatives from Smiths’ IT organization. Winning acceptance for projects often requires overcoming people’s natural resistance to change. “As you have successes, as you show value, they start to believe your presentations back to the business, if you are consistent in delivery as projects move forward,” he said.

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 Copyright © 2011 Apropos LLC. All rights reserved.

Party Innovations Reinforces Its E-Commerce Website with Site Security Monitor

I had to go through every page in the website to clean it out. It was a major hassle.
– Jeff Sadowsky, Owner, Party Innovations

A Breach in the Website

Jeff Sadowsky, owner of Party Innovations, was surprised to see the customer forum on his company’s website had disappeared. “The forum was a place for customers to post messages and get a coupon to use on the website. One day the forum just vanished. It was a white page. I assumed there was some type of database error, so I emailed my hosting company to find out. After several hours, they finally got back with me and said our website had been maliciously attacked by hackers,” he said.

Party Innovations is a third-generation family business that made the leap to the Internet and e-commerce six years ago. Based in Brooklyn, New York, it is a distributor of promotional products and printed items for corporate events, weddings and other types of parties. The company’s website is its main sales channel and includes an e-commerce component for online orders.

About ten months prior to the breach, Sadowsky had deployed a McAfee security service for the website. The McAfee software scanned the site on a daily basis to detect and correct viruses and security vulnerabilities, but it did not catch the breach that erased the customer forum. “Here I am paying all this money for these services that were supposed to be protecting me, and it didn’t. The hackers knocked off parts of my website. I had to go through every page in the website to clean it out. It was a major hassle. I have thousands of HTML pages,” he said.

Fortunately the attack did not affect the e-commerce component of the website, and customer information was secure. But the experience left Sadowsky feeling unsettled and wanting a stronger solution for website security.

Site Security Monitor Shores Up the Site

After researching various security solutions, he picked Site Security Monitor (formerly known as 54F3). “They gave good reviews to that company. I called and spoke to a gentleman there, and he was helpful in getting it set up and assured me that it could detect for malware. And since then the issue seems to be resolved,” he said.

Site Security Monitor scans the website each day and sends Sadowsky a status report by email which categorizes security issues as low, medium and high level concerns. “Their service seems more proactive. I get the email every day and can see if there is something at a medium or high level. Then at least I can react and not have it go on for a period of time without knowing anything. We may have found one or two medium issues so far and corrected it right away. The other ones were minor and won’t affect anything,” he said.

Sadowsky also found Site Security Monitor to be more price-competitive. The fee was about 40% lower and charged on a monthly basis, whereas the previous service required a yearly commitment.

Like many businesses, Party Innovations relies extensively on its company website. This makes it an important asset to protect. After shoring up his company’s website, Sadowsky now feels much more confident about security. “I’m happy with this service so far. I like the fact that I have something that is also detecting for malware,” he said.

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 Copyright © 2010 Apropos LLC. All rights reserved.

Oliver Family Healthcare Finds Electronic Health Records Are a Win for Patients and Clinic

I really felt the future was going to be electronic health records.”
– Dr. Greg Oliver, Oliver Family Healthcare

Out With the Old – Paper Charts

Dr. Greg Oliver, head of Oliver Family Healthcare in Indianapolis, Indiana, was early to see the benefit of electronic health records for health care providers. “I had been in practice the first twelve years of my career and then I sold my practice to a hospital and went to work for them,” said Dr. Oliver. As medical director for multiple clinics, he kept abreast of new technologies for computerized healthcare. “I thought the future was going to be electronic health records from what I was reading. So the hospital gave me the assignment to try to find a product for all their clinics. I narrowed it down to a couple of products, and about that time, the hospital decided not to go forward with it due to costs.”

When this project stalled, Oliver saw an opportunity to buy back the family practice and run it more efficiently using new IT systems. “I decided to go back into private practice for several reasons,” he said, “but one was I really felt the future was going to be electronic health records.” The hospital allowed him to keep the practice in the same location since it was a larger referrer to the hospital.  He and a nurse practitioner worked together to go back into private practice.

Having used charts for so many years, Oliver knew the limitations and costs of a paper-based system. “There wasn’t a day that went by where one of my staff didn’t say the unfortunate thing, ‘Your chart is lost.’ I’d always tell a patient that it’s really not lost. It’s here. Someone just can’t find it,” he said. Electronic health records seemed a more reliable and cost-effective solution. “I knew that it was expensive to handle charts and keep them stored. I just thought this has to be cheaper to do, which it definitely was. We were doing transcription at the time, and I wanted to save on transcription costs.”

At the time, he did not anticipate that electronic health records would add significantly to the quality of patient care. “That wasn’t really one of the things I thought I would gain from it. That now turns out to be one of the greatest benefits of it,” he said.

In With the New – Electronic Health Records

Oliver chose Allscripts Professional EHR for electronic health records and Allscripts Professional PM for practice management (known at the time as the A4 HealthMatics System and HealthMatics Ntierprise). After considering many aspects of the competitive solutions, one feature in particular made Allscripts stand out: “The reason I chose that over the other was it seemed to provide a very easy-to-use physician interface with a computer,” he said.

Dr. Oliver took an aggressive approach to rolling out the new system. He and the nurse practitioner took a week’s vacation from their hospital employment and traveled to Allscripts’ offices in North Carolina to learn the new system and make customizations to the software. After returning, they trained the staff and made preparations. On July 1, 2003, they went live with the new system and started the private practice on the same day. “We had a trainer from Allscripts here on site with us. The first day we went live in our practice we saw 60 people. They told us we shouldn’t do that. I know a lot of practices will say, ‘Stay with your charts and just do three or five on the system.’ We just went live,” he said.

In advance of a scheduled appointment, a worker entered key details into a patient’s electronic record. They also carried the patient’s chart into the room in case it was needed. Oliver continued, “I remember being in an exam room and telling a patient, ‘Hang on, I don’t know what I’m doing here,’ and would walk out. The trainer would say do this, this and this. And I would go back in the room and take care of it. The first few days we were in the office very early, six-thirty or seven a.m., and didn’t leave until probably nine or ten p.m. But very quickly within that first week, having seen hundreds of patients on the new system, we were rolling. It was fine. So my thought on it was if there’s going to be pain, let’s get it over with quickly, and it turned out, I don’t think we had a lot of pain.”

By the end of the year, they rarely needed the paper charts, and by the end of the second year, they no longer used them.  The old charts were stored for compliance purposes and for rare instances when they need to see an old test result.

More Efficient, More Productive, Better Care

The Allscripts Professional EHR and Professional PM solutions helped the practice to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively and improved patient care. Merely having access to timely, reliable records and reports enabled medical workers and staff to accomplish more each day. They were able to see more patients. At the end of the day, every patient visit was ready to send to the insurance companies. Collections were much higher than before, and revenues also climbed. The system notified patients automatically to schedule routine exams and tests, such as for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. “Not only has it increased our ability to get the patients in for things that we think are important for their healthcare, but because of that, it increases our revenue also,” said Oliver.

More recently, Oliver Family Healthcare implemented online visits. For current patients experiencing minor issues, they can go to the website, enter symptoms and request an online visit. This generates an email that is sent to the on-call doctor’s iPhone. The doctor views the patient request, symptoms and medical history from their iPhone or PC. With this information, the doctor can address the health issue, send a prescription, request the patient come into the office the next day or refer to an emergency room. The benefit to patients is they can access their own doctor who is aware of their medical history from home. They do not have to drive to a walk-in clinic. From Oliver Family Healthcare’s perspective, the online visits are chargeable, though only if they can address the problem, and not if it requires further evaluation or a referral. The patient visit is also documented and becomes part of their medical history. “So we have implemented that in the last couple months,” said Oliver, “and without an electronic health record, you couldn’t do that.”

Just jump in, you’ll be okay. Because there is no way that with a paper chart you can take as good care of a patient as you can with an electronic health record.”
– Dr. Greg Oliver

Advice for Healthcare Providers

When asked for his advice to other medical practices and clinics that may be considering electronic health records, Dr. Oliver responded: “I would tell anybody, especially a small practice, just jump in, you’ll be okay. Because there is no way that with a paper chart you can take as good care of a patient as you can with an electronic record. And most of it is because you can’t do anything with the data that’s in a chart in a file. This software is doing things and inviting patients to come back for their regular screenings and checkups and blood tests while I’m sleeping. It’s doing this automatically. There is no way you can practice that type of medicine with a paper chart. Is there an expense to getting involved? Yes. But we noticed that for the last five years, our practice revenue has gone up between twenty-five and thirty percent every year. A lot of is just because we strategically look at how we can ladder technologies in our practice and link them to our electronic health records and practice management system to, number one, take better care of the patient and, number two, become more efficient over time and be able to capitalize financially on our ability to take better care of our patients.”

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 Copyright © 2009 Apropos LLC. All rights reserved.