Channel Opportunity for VoIP in NHS

The National Health Service (NHS) has emerged as a excellent candidate for channel opportunities with VoIP according to a new survey conducted by Watford based Alcatel reseller Freedom Communications.

Findings from a survey sent to telecoms managers drawn from 543 NHS bodies indicate significant demand for new voice technology and applications in the health service in 2006.

When asked about the primary focus of telecoms needs in 2006 almost a third (32.1 per cent) of respondents said that reducing the cost of telecoms was the most important consideration. In addition, a fifth (21 per cent) identified upgrading infrastructure as very important and a further 20 per cent were looking for greater security around their telecoms infrastructure, notably reducing unauthorised calls.

When questioned about the importance of specific telecoms functionality a staggering 84.7 per cent highlighted the importance of upgrading their systems to take advantage of Voice over IP. Other functionality deemed as highly important included supporting multi-site operations, selected by over half (53.8 per cent) of participants; whilst 46.2 per cent believed that mobile applications for home-based staff was the key driver for new system selection.

The report also found that the market continues to be price sensitive – 17 per cent saw price as the key consideration when selecting a technology or networking partner. A further 18 per cent regarded the integrator’s technical skills as most important, whilst 12 per cent stated that after sales support was the largest consideration.

Other key findings from the survey were:
• 42 per cent indicated that the internal telecoms department were still the key influencer in the buying process
• Over a third (38 per cent) felt that telecoms publications were most influential in helping them find the right voice solutions
• Existing customer references were considered key when selecting a technology partner according to 12 per cent of those questioned
• 12 per cent felt they would be swayed by evidence of innovation and technology capabilities of the chosen integrator.

Freedom commissioned this survey as part of an ongoing sales and marketing campaign in the health sector following its award in August 2005 of an NHS Purchasing And Supply Agency (PASA) framework agreement in the Voice, Video and Data telecommunication Products and Services category. The PASA framework is used by NHS telecoms managers in 400 NHS Trusts and Health Authorities around the UK and manages 3,000 national purchasing contracts representing approximately £7.5 billion per year.

Tom Perry, head of marketing, Freedom Communications (UK) Limited, said:
“The public sector and in particular the Health Service represents an important market sector for Freedom. This survey’s findings re-affirm our belief that that there is still a great demand for flexible and secure voice systems in the NHS and we see good potential for growth in this market going forward.”

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