National Health IT Week recently put a spotlight on the critical role that information technology plays in the U.S. healthcare system, particularly as healthcare providers respond to Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates and meet EMR meaningful-use requirements.
According to a recent survey of CHIME CIOs (“Health Check: CIOs Prescribe Change”), 90 percent of health IT execs report IT innovation is a key strategy to their future success. The challenge is how to innovate on a limited budget. Many organizations, including SISU Medical Solutions in Duluth, Minn., are implementing IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) models to lower operational costs, improve service levels and accelerate deployment of key healthcare applications.
SISU Medical Solutions provides rural and community hospitals with access to advanced electronic hospital and practice management solutions that might not otherwise be available to these organizations due to limited budgets and resources. SISU has grown from providing IT support services for a single hospital to supporting over 17 rural and community-based hospitals today and a large rural clinic network.
With such extensive growth, SISU began to rethink its IT infrastructure, looking for ways to support enhanced ITaaS offerings for clinical and business requirements. SISU took a closer look at its storage and recovery efforts and how they impacted hospital efficiency and overall quality of care supporting the SISU network of practitioners. Restructuring the existing IT network proved to be a more challenging task, as the existing storage area network would not support such expansion. Scott Lee, SISU’s chief executive officer explains, “Because the applications we support are critical for hospital efficiency and effective patient care, high-performing data storage and protection of vital medical records are front-and-center priorities for us.”
After evaluating the options, SISU selected an integrated storage, back-up and recovery solution in order to advance its vision for cloud-enabled services. SISU selected EMC VNX and EMC VNXe unified storage, supporting SISU’s full line of hosted applications including MEDITECH HIS, LSS Data Systems Medical and Practice Management (a wholly owned subsidiary of MEDITECH), GE Centricity electronic medical records (EMR), and eClinicalWorksEHR and practice management.
To protect patient-critical data hosted at its data center, SISU relies on an integrated back-up and recovery solution, including EMC Data Domain deduplication storage systems, EMC Networker unified backup and recovery, and EMC RecoverPoint remote data protection. SISU also uses EMC Avamar deduplication back-up software and system to provide backup as a service. Avamar provides SISU with the ability to back up virtual environments and easily restore them in the case of a disaster. Using VMware vSphere, SISU has virtualized 85 to 90 percent of its infrastructure, including its MEDITECH environment.
To provide the highest levels of protection for data in the cloud, SISU transformed its back-up and recovery methods, moving away from tape to an automated solution. “With tape, we could only back up once each day,” says Kris Olberg, SISU’s CIO/CTO. “Now, we’re making cuts every hour. That means we can also go back through the back-up data hour by hour if a recovery is needed. We have reduced our back-up times, and we’re seeing a 98.9 percent deduplication rate of MEDITECH data through Data Domain. Our efficiency and reliability have improved dramatically.”
SISU is enabling more robust disaster recovery by leveraging EMC RecoverPoint with MEDITECH’s Integrated Serverless Backup (ISB) and Integrated Disaster Recovery (IDR) processes to replicate data from the primary data center to a remote facility. SISU can move virtual machines to the remote site and have them available at a moment’s notice.
As a result of efforts, SISU is able to offer cloud services such as EMR as a service, backup as a service, and soon, analytics as a service – and has moved from a cooperative to a multi-tenancy model. “Aggregating services and support for multiple enterprises in a streamlined, virtualized infrastructure provides substantial economies of scale and cost savings,” says Olberg.
Many care networks are working to achieve these results. According to the recent Health Check study, healthcare providers report that 15 percent of their total IT portfolio is delivered via an ITaaS model today. Ninety-four percent say that they have purchased at least part of their IT portfolio as a service, as they work to achieve their dual goals of reducing costs and delivering innovation.
About the author
Roberta Katz, Director of Healthcare Solutions, EMC Corporation.
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