Wellington Hospital moves to miracle nurse call system

"There's no substitute for being on the inside of a job," says ICN Adviser Ian Mallett. He should know - as a specialist in health and infrastructure, he spent over three years working on site at Wellington's New Regional Hospital construction project, ensuring local companies' products and services are used in place of imported ones wherever possible.

"You have to be proactive, and in the same project office as the architects and construction firms," says Mallett. "Planners often specify imported products, and you have only a narrow opportunity to find something in New Zealand that's better or cheaper."

During that time spent on site at the Wellington project, he helped ensure that contracts for everything from wall cladding to lighting components went to New Zealand companies - a total impact of around $30 million spent in New Zealand that could have gone offshore.

When it came to supplying nurse call systems for the new 350-bed Wellington Hospital, the architect and consulting engineers had specified an imported product. But Mallett knew there was a Wellington company making a similar product that was not only cheaper, it had the advantage of local servicing and backup.

Miracle Electronics specialises in sophisticated nurse call systems that can send messages to corridor displays, pagers, mobiles, email, text-to- voice, or virtually any other device. They are also adaptable, allowing for future changes and additions.

The Managing Director of Miracle Electronics, David Burger, says ICN played a vital brokering role in helping them get the contract.

"Our chief competitor in the nurse call business is an imported product. In the health sector, purchasers tend to be risk averse and are reluctant to specify untried suppliers. Because the originating architects on these big hospital projects are often not based in New Zealand, even when local architects are brought in they tend to keep the original specification. Ian Mallett knows all the people involved, and can drop a word in the right ear at the right time".

Big hospital construction projects can sometimes run over budget, Burger says, and that gives ICN essential leverage - the client wants a product that works, can be delivered quickly and saves money. When public money is being spent, it also helps that ICN is part of a government agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

"Choosing Miracle Electronics' call system instead of an imported one saved Wellington Hospital at least $200,000," Mallett says. With just 12 employees, in the past Miracle Electronics had been seen as too small for major contracts - but they are a good example of a niche product finding its market, he says.

We managed to get them in front of the key people and the hospital is thrilled with the result. Not only is it cheaper, it works superbly and talks to the old nurse call system".