Leading Healthcare Administrator Embraces Cloud UC and Contact Center Solutions
This is the first in a series of case studies showing how Mitel is helping customers migrate to the cloud
As the largest independently owned third-party administrator (TPA) in the Southwest, Group & Pension Administrators (GPA) focuses on providing high-quality and custom healthcare benefit management solutions to self-insured employers, from cost-management services to patient care. With two locations in Dallas and San Antonio and 320 employees including 120 that work from home, GPA wanted to “get out of the hardware business” and deployed Mitel’s cloud services for its business communications and contact center needs.
Everything at GPA is done in the cloud including voice calling and ACD routing. This includes the Mitel MiCollab client, which can act as a softphone and display a users presence status. The only thing not in the cloud is Mitel Call Recording, which will be available in the cloud this fall. GPA uses an MPLS connection that goes from its Dallas office to the Mitel data center, and a 100-megabit circuit that connects to the San Antonio site.
Mac McIntyre, GPA’s VP of Technology said “We had experience with Mitel in house, with equipment in San Antonio and Dallas. When Mitel presented its cloud solution and the flexibility it provides, I realized that it was the way for GPA to go moving forward.” He added, “Mitel takes care of updating the system, but we can go in and add or delete extensions and still have all the capabilities we had before, but I don’t have to worry about managing the hardware.”
The key benefits of moving to the cloud include cost savings and the built-in failover and redundancy that the cloud provides. Cost savings primarily were attributed to a lower cost monthly service than what GPA was paying for its leased service, as well as from toll savings as calls now travel over the Internet when possible, eliminating long distance charges. The cloud service provides data lines and everything that’s needed for the phone system at a fixed cost; the only variable cost is calls associated with 800 numbers, which have a set per-minute charge that won’t change for five years.
McIntyre noted, “The backup and redundancy you get with the cloud was a very big deal to us.” Prior to using Mitel’s cloud service, GPA didn’t implement a backup hot site (a disaster recovery service that allows a business to continue computer and network operations in the event of a computer or equipment disaster) for the premises-based solution, as using an outsourcer for backup is very expensive. “We were just crossing our fingers that we wouldn’t experience tornados or anything that would cause an equipment failure, but now I have a backup site.”
Consolidation of the two systems was another benefit of moving to the cloud. The San Antonio and Dallas sites had two phone systems that operated independently. “In the cloud it’s all one and I can integrate all the functionality between the sites. Previously, we had to make changes to two separate systems when there was an update or new release. Now Mitel does all the upgrades and updates and we don't have to do anything except for agree on a date. They just do it and we have the latest firmware update.”
Another benefit of consolidating the systems is that McIntyre can now assign a block of numbers with some in Dallas and some in San Antonio rather than having segregated numbers as in the past. He explained, “I can buy a block of 100 numbers and use them for either site, which is very convenient and cost effective.”
There were no changes to GPA’s IT staff, as the Mitel system represented a small portion of the 60 servers that the company manages. McIntyre noted that his team still does all of the administration related to setting up and deleting extensions, managing call recording, and so on.
The migration to the cloud was done all at once, as all of the data lines and local PRIs have to be moved at the same time. McIntyre explained, “We did the cutover on a weekend for all of the employees and locations. There’s no going half way – you have to do it all at once, which is a scary proposition. After the initial cutover, it took around three months of debugging to get everything the way we wanted.” McIntyre acknowledged that there were some minor deployment challenges due to an issue with firmware updates from a third party vendor, but once they found the cause of the issue it was fixed right away, with call quality equivalent to the previous premises-based system.
When asked what advice he would give to organizations considering moving to the cloud, McIntyre suggested, “You have to take a leap of faith and go with it, and I’m very glad we did. We had some heartburn over it and I just made a decision that we were going to do it and it all turned out well.” At GPA they combine industry-leading technology and tools with “high-touch” patient care to deliver the healthiest employees and the “healthiest” bottom line.
This paper is sponsored by Mitel.