Nursing a Printer Network Back to Health

Case Study: Leesburg Regional Medical Center's printing infrastructure was eating up valuable office real estate and making cost-cutting and HIPAA compliance a monsterous undertaking. HP and PowerOne made it all better.

After years of watching the cost of providing services lag behind reimbursement for treatments, business administrators at Leesburg Regional Medical Center knew it was time to take action.

To stem the bleeding, managers implemented cost-saving initiatives that would ultimately offer better value to patients and to the communities served by the medical center. One of the first orders of business: getting a handle on the printing, copying and faxing infrastructure.

For LRMC, of Lake County, Fla., the management of the printing infrastructure and its associated costs was a lost frontier.

"Not only was the cost of supplies for our printers, copiers and fax machines going up but so was the workload, and we were leasing a lot of machinery," said Tommy Banks, materials management analyst at LRMC.

Attempts to control costs were not helped any by the fact that there was no product standardization. Taking a good look around the medical center, Banks said it was obvious that an inordinate number of machines populated the facility.

"Every desk had an ink-jet printer. Every office had a LaserJet printer. There was a copy machine in every nook and cranny of the hospital, and there were fax machines next to printers, which were next to copiers," Banks said.

According to Andy Vester, vice president of PowerOne—a local IT services provider and Hewlett-Packard Referral Partner selected to help LRMC revamp its print infrastructure—print, copier and fax devices were located within feet of one another, eating up a lot of real estate.

In an attempt to provide the medical staff with the tools it needed to conduct business, the printing infrastructure at LRMC had spun out of control, Banks said. Furthermore, devices werent networked, and the printing infrastructure was handled outside of the scope of the IT department.

But not for long. Recognizing the need for a networked print infrastructure, Banks asked IT to get involved to help create a healthy, well-functioning print environment. At the end of the day, LRMC—with the help of outside IT partners PowerOne and HP—pumped new life into the medical centers bottom line.

Although working with LRMC for the past 20 years, Vester wasnt aware of how dysfunctional the medical centers print infrastructure was because his relationship with LRMC was with the IT department.

"We provided IT products, networks and services to the IT department, whereas leased copiers were handled by procurement," said Vester.

Banks said that when he considered cost-savings measures at LRMC and recognized the high costs of printing, he conducted a needs assessment and then put together a request for proposal.

"I discovered that 50 percent of our copiers were only being utilized to about 5 percent of their capacity," Banks said. As of February 2005, leased copiers—of which there were 86—were costing $220,000 annually, according to Banks. Based on that information alone, it was clear that LRMC should eliminate at least 20 percent of its copiers. But where would Banks start?

First he went to the engineering department and had them map the locations, that is, the nooks and crannies, desktops, nurse stations, offices, and so on, where all print, copier and fax devices were to be found at the facility.

"Then we looked at device usage, placement and when copier leases were due to expire," Banks said.

One thing was clear to Banks: Being in a paper-intensive industry, it was important to ensure that all hospital personnel had timely access to devices and information, and that LRMC complied with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

In early 2005, Banks had a plan of action, a set of requirements, and he issued an RFP (request for proposal). He said the goal was to standardize on a multifunction device that suited everyones needs. Product requirements included features and functionality, price, service, ease of use, and integration with the medical centers network.

The RFP brought more than half a dozen vendors to the table, including Toshiba, Cannon, HP, Konica and Xerox. Thats when the companys IT department turned to Vester at PowerOne.

While an IT service relationship with LRMC was an advantage for PowerOne, the HP Referral Partner was also quick to size up the print requirements at LRMC and recommend products. Furthermore, LRMC gets attractive product pricing from HP as an HP business-to-business partner.

"None of the vendors that we talked to were even close to the pricing were able to get being an HP business-to-business partner," said Banks.

However, before LRMC purchased any units, Vester utilized an HP try-and-buy program.

Next Page: The merits of trying before you buy.