Colleges and hospitals have to face their financial problemsand seek additional opportunities to generate revenue. Their telephone system can help them. By using the existing telecommunications facilities, needed telephone services can be provided to students and patients by a means that would be both revenue providing to the institution and cost saving to the user.
In the college environment, students normally have to do all of their telephone calling collect, by credit card or by third-party billing. Colleges can encompass into their administrative telephone-traffic configuration additional features to accommodate widespread telephone services for their students.
Rather than having a student intall their own private line or having the student make only expensive operator-assisted calls, enlarging the college’s PBX trunking capacities could reduce individual telephone charges to students, while allowing the institution to generate funds, through a resale software package.
The detail of each telephone call placed from a system is determined and added into the operating costs of the school. Administrative phone charges are allocated to different departments and divisions within the university. Student billing can be generated monthly and folded into other billings by the financial office.
Tuition, housing costs, bookstore charges and now telephone bills can all be accumulated and processed on the school’s existing computer system.
The hospital or university can have a telephone resale operation without a major investment at all. The would be using the existing PBX and their existing computer. No expensive hardware additions are necessary. They purchase software compatible with their computer and data collection devices that assures accurate records without a posibility of data loss and the project will fly.
Software costs and charges to expand telephone lines seem minimal when compared to the profits to be made. Return on investment is less than one year.
Institutions can take advantage of the availability of lower long-distance rates by accumulating all of their telephone, traffic and ordering services that would be cost effective on this larger scale.
In the near future, flat-rate charges will be eliminated. Telephone companies will have the opportunity to charge for every single call. Local dialing will no longer be free. Message units presently charged to businesses in metropolitan areas will be expanded to all business areas and to residential users. Telecommunications costs for every user will continually increase.
PBX Carries Calls on Different Lines
Calls are carried through the PBX on different lines depending on each call’s terminating point. WATS and FX lines carry calls at a much lower cost. Colleges could match their specific calling patterns to the specific features available by all of these different lines and reduce the cost of calls to those areas.
Calls at the highest usage peak of each particular WATS band are charged at the cheapest rate. The technique is to load the WATS lines to the peak to realize the lower rate, while at the same time, not affecting the school’s grade of service or allowing too much of an overflow of calls to go out on a more expensive line.
Hospitals everywhere are in severe financial and cash flow situations. Opportunities for accurate telecommunications billing are needed now and will be a must in the near future. It is sad that something needed so badly by these institutions that will bring then added revenue is being overlooked. The opportunity is there to help ease these burdens, and it should not pass them by because they just do not have the funds to get started, or are afraid of a new unique business venture.
In the medical industry most hospitals lose money on their telephones. A hospital may charge a patient $2 to $5 a day for local telephone service. That telephone can actually accumulate twice that amount in billing charges when message unit charges apply in metropolitan areas.
Software Would Generate Phone Bills
Telecommunications software would generate telephone bills to patients and doctors and could allow them to call anywhere they choose. Presently, all patient calling is restricted to local lines.
Communications from the PBX and computer would be direct so the exact cost of a telephone call is added into a patient’s bill within minutes of its completion. Patients, upon checking out of the hospital, would receive a bill for the exact charges that their telephone generated, or which the hospital chooses to charge them for.
Hospitals would discount rates from the DDD charges for the patient, transmit the calls on WATS and FX lines and make substantial profits for the service.
Hospital and college MIS people should choose a vendor with a proven record in call accounting. The pricing structure must be regularly updated with the actual cost of a call and what to charge to patient/student. The vendor must be proficient in pricing structures.
The variety of PBX output dictates that the vendor must also be an expert in telecommunications history. Call accounting is not just a data processing function. It takes years to perfect equipment and software to handle a project like this in a way that will not lead to an ocean of difficulties. The most serious consideration is that the vendor has the needed technical knowledge to correct difficulties as they arrive to assure return on investment and complete management control of the project.
Potential for Software Business
New firms realizing the potential for software business in this area design and market programs strictly from a data processing viewpoint. A telecommunications background is absolutely necessary to understand peculiarities of telephone data and how the computer can interact with it.
In a resell environment, there must exist a fail-safe method of data collection. Lost data means lost money.
Telephone resale is a treasure chest buried in the basement of colleges and hospitals. The chest is the existing “smart” PBX and the treasure is telephone usage control software.
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