System Outage Notifications

in a Hospital

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The Customer:

A private hospital group with 2,700 beds across 70 hospitals and treatment centers throughout the UK. It employs 6,500 consultant specialists, 9,500 staff and manages one million outpatient and 276,000 inpatient visits every year. When key IT systems go down, fast notification of staff is critical.





  • 225 full time physicians

  • 76,500 consultant specialists

  • 9,500 staff

  • Local hosting of the SnapComms solution

The Requirements:

Saving time and server space - It was also taking valuable time to compile the different email groups and large volumes of email were taking up server space.

Getting system outage notifications out fast - The IT team need to have the ability to reach every single member of staff and guarantee that they are kept informed when there are unplanned IT outages.

Reducing email volume - Prior to June 2012, the IT team could sometimes end up “sending thousands of emails to staff” relating to unplanned IT outages. But these weren’t always reaching staff or being opened and some users didn’t have email accounts.

Reducing operational threats - The group’s IT Desktop Manager, manages a third line support team. Their responsibilities include user interaction, reporting and staff notification relating to anything that has visibility on the desktop. The organization runs multiple IT applications, and service-affecting outages are an operational threat; reduced availability of systems potentially has a knock-on effect for patients.


After SnapComms:

Staff Immediately see relevant Information - As an alternative to internal email, in June 2012 the IT team switched to using the SnapComms’ Scrolling Desktop Tickers for unplanned System outage notification. The IT Desktop Manager says that the key benefit of the desktop tickers is visibility on these unplanned outages. The tickers enable staff to see immediately if the information is relevant to them.

Fast, effective system outage notifications - Although the nature of unplanned outages means that the processes in place are reactive, outage notification templates have been created in the SnapComms message manager for a variety of different types of system outage notification. The templates are copied and updated for each incident meaning they are quick and easy to deploy when the team is under pressure — The Desktop Manager says that putting out a scrolling desktop ticker is “quicker than writing an email.”

Targeted system outage notifications - In situations where the outage relates to just one system or location, the scrolling desktop tickers are easily customized and sent to just that specific group of users. The facility to target dedicated machines as well as user accounts enables the IT team to convey information to employees in a particular location and to those without an email account.

Message Reporting - There is an extensive reporting facility within the SnapComms messaging software which the organization actively uses. On a monthly basis they run reports looking at the number of messages issued and read. Similarly, when a director says they were not aware of an outage, the team is able to run a report and show them who saw the notification.

Follow up messaging - As well as informing staff about the outage itself, the IT team sends out follow-up messages. These include a brief resume of what the problem was and confirmation that it has been solved.

Positive feedback from staff - The Desktop Manager describes the scrolling desktop tickers as “not too intrusive” and a bit like a conversation with the user. He says that staff react well to receiving a desktop ticker and “they think it is quite cool”. He elaborates that it is a “quirky, little feature that they find a much more pleasant way of receiving these outages.” Our staff like the fact that it is interactive, as they enjoy engaging, and would probably be less enthusiastic if the outage communication was not two-way or they were not asked for feedback. On first seeing the scrolling ticker messages, newcomers to the business or those working externally describe it as “new, and a bit funky.”

Objectives Met + Additional Benefits

Fewer calls to the help desk - There have also been fewer calls to the help desk with “less people calling up to say they can’t access systems”. The Desktop Manager confirms that email is still used internally to communicate planned outages, since normally these are issued more than one week in advance and information about these is already to hand and ready to use. The Desktop Manager is happy with the way his team are using the scrolling desktop tickers and says they are a “very efficient way of reaching the user base.” While he has no plans to make any changes he has confirmed that the organization will start to explore how they can implement SnapComms Desktop Alert software to communicate evacuations and other emergency situations.

Objectives met - The Desktop Manager is using the SnapComms scrolling desktop ticker tool exactly as he had planned in his original project brief. The primary benefit has been around delivering on his original objective of creating much wider visibility of unplanned system outage notifications. It has also helped to keep down mailbox sizes and reduce email traffic. But there have been other unanticipated gains:

Insight into system performance - The fact that everything is recorded in one central location (the SnapComms message manager) means that it is possible to see the performance differences between various products and systems. This enables the IT team to be more proactive with their support service.

Example of a scrolling news ticker:

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Key benefits of SnapComms:

  • Send relevant system outage notifications to staff

  • Reduce email volumes

  • Reach users without email accounts

  • Save time during a system outage