Implementing virtualization and SaaS was a big job. One of the most significant challenges was providing adequate security to safeguard the sensitive medical records.
"Security is always a challenge in the health-care environment," Gillis says. "Medical records are closely regulated by state and federal law." The medical center had to consider security in terms of its data center, at the physician practice level, for the EHR application, over the network, and for various interfaces.
Beth Israel brought in VMware partner Third Brigade, a security software company that specializes in server and application protection for data centers, to help. "We created a best practices defense-in-depth security architecture, knowing that we were going to be putting patient data on the Internet," Gillis says. "We created a multi-layer security protocol, including various perimeter devices-- from firewalls to network-based intrusion detection systems.
Another challenge was convincing the EHR vendor Beth Israel Deaconess uses that the application would support visualization via VMware. The EHR vendor's previous experience with other virtualization software showed that the technology was too unstable for a clinical platform, Gillis says. "However, VMware brought the right pieces to the table and delivered on the promise of seamless integration," he says.
Among the key steps in deploying the technologies, Gillis says, were understanding the end-user requirements up front, envisioning the delivery model, implementing EHR in a way that truly transforms the practices' experience, and building an affordable, supportable and sustainable model moving forward.
"We have a core team made up of technical, application/implementation and EHR vendor staff," Gillis says. "Every facet of the team had a hand in the planning and process. I'd say this approach held true for all of the vendors associated with the project as well. We really worked toward a true partnership with everyone involved. It's been a real-world example of true collaboration."