April 1986: Introduction of Voice Mail, Video Teleconferencing #throwbackthursdays

A digital desk console: Before a call is even answered it can indicate on a screen (shown above) the name of the caller and the person being called.
A digital desk console: Before a call is even answered it can indicate on a screen (shown above) the name of the caller and the person being called.

In 1986, Mayo Medical Center purchased a highly sophisticated telephone system from AT&T to make technological advances in video teleconferencing, voice mail, and data transmission a reality at the institution.

“The bottom line is that people at Mayo Medical Center are going to be able to communicate more effectively and efficiently…that’s going to have an impact on a lot of things, including productivity and patient care,” Randall Brown, assistant head of the Section of Engineering at Mayo, said.

“We wanted a system that would position us well for the future ,” said Duane Reuer, Systems & Procedures. “The system had to be highly reliable and able to be completely integrated with our satellite clinics in Jacksonville and Scottsdale.”

Combining the latest in telephone and computer technology, the new system (driven by a large master computer housed in the Mayo Building) was capable of offering a wealth of high-tech features.

Features of the new system included:

  • Video teleconferencing: Teleconferencing (or telemedicine) enables a physician to visually consult with a colleague in Rochester — 1,300 miles away — with virtual ease. Video signals, such as those of the heart and eye, could also be transmitted.
  • Five-digit dialing: Telephone communication with the satellite clinics is possible by dialing just five digits.
  • Data transmission: With the aid of computer terminals, facsimiles of correspondence, patient records, test results, slides and x-rays can be transmitted.
  • Speed dialing capability: The ability to dial frequently-called numbers with the push of one or two buttons.
  • Digital desk consoles: Electronic sets which display on a screen the name of the caller and the person being called – all before the telephone is answered.
  • Voice mail: Voice mailbox can be accessed from anywhere within the medical center, or out (such as on a business trip).
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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.