In the computer peripherals business where five to six per cent margins are the norm, Nick Melber relies on his company’s service contract with Lexmark as an ongoing source of revenue.
Melber is vice-president of Carousel Computers, one of two B.C.-based VARs contracted by Lexmark to facilitate
implementation, training and support services to Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), one of six health authorities in B.C. VIHA provides health-care services including hospital, community and home care, to more than 700,000 residents of Vancouver Island, the Gulf and Discovery Islands and the Mt. Waddington and Campbell River areas. The region has two acute care hospitals, two community hospitals, a children’s centre and a rehabilitation centre.
Three years ago, in preparation for its amalgamation with six other provincial health agencies, VIHA implemented Cerner health-care information software. Meanwhile, the former Capital Health Region, now part of VIHA, was renewing leases for its copiers and faxes. These challenges, along with budget constraints and the need for 24-hour coverage, prompted VIHA to replace its large centralized copiers with 400 multifunction printers and Cerner-authorized MFPs for printing, copying, scanning and faxing. Since then, the B.C. health region has saved thousands of hours, which translates into $300,000 annually.
As part of Lexmark’s contract with VIHA, the region pays a monthly leasing fee plus a cost-per page charge based on output volumes. These are determined by Lexmark printer management software called MarkVision Professional, which extracts and calculates page counts each month for billing.
Lexmark is also responsible for servicing 80 of the total number of units. As part of its contract with Lexmark, Carousel covers incidental services such as toner replacements while TechNet provides 24/7 service. In return, dealers such as Carousel bill back to Lexmark for parts and service, said Howard Nason, channel marketing specialist at Lexmark Canada. “”All service dealers order the necessary parts and they also have the ability to bill back for levels of service that they went on-site and did service,”” said Nason.
Carousel has a computer in its office that is dedicated to monitoring nearly one quarter of the hundreds of devices located on several of VIHA’s sites. Melber, for example, gets e-mail alerts that tell him if the nursing station on the third floor in the south tower of Victoria General needs toner.
The alerts, which can be programmed to report a specific error, can also help Carousel track and follow up on more serious customer problems such as if a machine is getting three or four paper jams a day.
Working 10-hour days, Melber and four Carousel technicians initially installed 50 of the 80 units and trained VIHA’s nursing staff in three weeks. VIHA also wanted minimal interruption, meaning that all of the equipment, which was pre-configured by Lexmark in Toronto, had to be staged at Carousel’s 1,500 sq. ft. store. The x522 MFPs were delivered to Carousel with hard drives, network cards and fax boards pre-installed.
“”The parking lot, my office and my storage areas were jammed,”” said Melber, adding his biggest fear was the logistics of transporting the machines to six different locations in the region. “”How do you co-ordinate 50 machines going to different locations, unpacking them on site and hoping like hell that nothing was damaged in transit? And it did happen. We planned for all that. We had extra.””
The next challenge for Carousel was co-ordinating with VIHA if the network and fax lines were in, what pre-settings needed to be set on the machines and who the nurses fax. Training the staff was also made more difficult due to the round-the-clock nature of hospitals coupled with the fact that nurses work three different shifts on an on-call basis.
Melber added that because of such circumstances, there are certain things that Carousel doesn’t charge for, which is built into its contract with Lexmark. “”(VIHA’s) a large account, it’s not something you nickel and dime on,”” he said.
More recently, Carousel added seven MFPs across several VIHA sites this month alone and is currently beta testing Lexmark nx632 and x632e MFPs with touch-screen terminals at one of the locations.