When streamlining and automating IT services in a hospital, you need a flexible, scalable, and content-rich service delivery model, according to Doris Peek, CIO at Broward Health.
The Fort Lauderdale-based Broward Health is the fifth-largest non-government-owned public health system in the United States. Its IT department employs 168 people who support 8,000 employees.
Before its IT service management (ITSM) upgrade, Broward Health had difficulty keeping track of work requests and ended up spending extra money on resources and duplicating tasks, Peek told Enterprise Efficiency. Broward Health was "trying to manage our business from many sources and we were not doing a good job of it," she said. "We were a mess, frankly, and we weren't really following the [ITSM] best-practices."
Automation is the key to hospital IT survival, according to Peek. "If you don't get your head around how you're going to deliver your service and have some sort of automation, you're not going to survive in this world."
A shift to cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) was necessary. "We had no choice -- it was either change or die. I think the management would have outsourced the common service of IT had we not managed to change our service delivery approach."
The SaaS pricing model allowed it to be handled as an operational expense, rather than the capital expense outlay that new servers and software would have required. This was a big advantage. If Broward Health didn't implement a SaaS platform, Peek told us, the hospital system would have had to beg its board of directors for the funds required to purchase new hardware and software licenses.
Broward Health now uses its cloud-based SaaS solution as a way to order new IT equipment, such as a new printer, phone, or computer. The healthcare organization also put its service catalogue in the SaaS repository.
Broward Health plans to add incident management to its SaaS platform, but it is currently concentrating on change management and using the platform for new equipment purchases, according to Peek.
"We started with change management, and we're going to begin incident management the beginning of ."
The SaaS platform allows nurses to focus on helping patients rather than tracking work requests for IT equipment, Peek noted. Before SaaS, they'd have to "call to get someone on the phone and log service requests. We've moved from a big black hole to a transparent department."
A key strategy for Broward Health in implementing SaaS for ITSM was integrating National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards on its network, so it can improve its tracking of IT equipment. "We have a lot of information we never had before. We now know how old the printer is, how many times people have requested to fix it."
SaaS for patient data
As for healthcare data and electronic health records, doctors access patient data through virtual private networks from datacenters in Kansas City. Concerns about security are holding back Broward Health from transmitting patient information over the ITSM SaaS platform. Peek noted that healthcare is behind other industries, such as banking, in placing sensitive information in the cloud.
"Healthcare is very risk averse," says Peek. "Eventually healthcare will catch up to the rest of the world."
She suggests that future expansion of SaaS at Broward Health might involve a doctor reporting difficulty with a medical device through the service. The physician would submit a request using the ITSM platform, but the hospital would have to mask the patient's name or diagnosis involved.
So, what factors do healthcare organizations need to consider when deciding on whether to go with a cloud-based SaaS solution?
Without the ability to automate services through SaaS, an IT department could be in disarray, notes Peek. SaaS can allow an enterprise to organize business processes in one place.
According to Peek, it's important for organizations to choose a cloud service that is integrated with an ITSM foundation and has a governance structure with service-level agreements.
She believes one way to approach implementing a cloud-based SaaS application is to treat the platform like an Amazon shopping catalogue. "Don't get focused on the traditional instant management or change management. Think of it like shopping in your own warehouse."
Is Broward Health on the right track? Will cloud-based SaaS platforms work for your healthcare IT organization? How else would you put such solutions to use in your enterprise? Share your thoughts below.