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IT phone home at Townsville University Hospital

Published:  23 September 2020

A war council of technicians descended on Townsville University Hospital at the weekend to perform the most significant update of telephony infrastructure in a decade. 

The update includes new software for 4000 landlines and 1631 cordless phones across all Townsville Hospital and Health Service sites.

It also included a major hardware update to Townsville University Hospital’s switchboard, which fields more than 15,000 calls a week.

Director of Information Technology Services Barry Koch said the upgrade was exceptionally complex and was six months in planning.

“The big challenge was being able to do this upgrade with people still being able to call the hospital and having our staff still be able to contact clinicians,” he said.

“All up our cordless phones were done for 30 minutes as were our fixed phones, with diverts in place both times.

“We had to identify the critical areas and worked for days and days to minimise the impact as much as possible.

“Ultimately the sign of success was no one noticing it happened which is a great testament to the team.”

Principal project manager with eHealth Queensland, Howard Worthington, said even though it wasn’t flashy telephony remained the single biggest communication tool for hospitals.

“The switchboard and telephony systems of any hospital are one of the most critical systems,” he said.

“This upgrade will increase and improve the functionality and stability of the system while also building into additional redundancy to fight against outages.

“Upgrades like this are essentially replacing the brain that drives the ability for the public to communicate with the hospital.”

Mr Koch said the upgrade also laid crucial fundamentals to further increase the digital capacity of the telephony network across the hospital.

“The benefit of this new software and hardware is that it provides the latest technology for us to build upon,” he said.

“The weekend was basically constructing a new road. The asphalt is now in place but there is plenty of scope to further build upon it.

“Ultimately, this new software gives us the capability to allow our clinicians to access more programs and applications on a single device.”

The upgrade was completed in three phases on Saturday and Sunday with 14 staff from eHealth Queensland, Townsville Hospital and Health Service and contractor Nexon Asia Pacific.  

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