A regional health-care clinic gives its IT support staff a booster shot through new technology and tools, which are also helping drive efficiency gains and cost savings.
By Samuel Greengard
Operating a health-care clinic is a challenging task. The use of technology—particularly tools that help connect professionals with data and patients—is critical. At Green Clinic, a multi-specialty, non-emergency provider with a primary facility and six satellite locations in and near Ruston, La., the need to support a variety of IT tasks has prompted the company to adopt new and more powerful IT support tools.
Green Clinic treats about 1,000 patients per day across 25 specialties. The physician-owned organization is comprised of 50 doctors and about 450 employees. "Everybody is priority number one," says Jason Thomas, CIO and IT director. "Whenever a system goes down or someone has trouble getting something work correctly, we hear about it immediately." The biggest challenge, Thomas says, is simply keeping the IT infrastructure running without glitches, problems and delays. "Doctors and other health professionals don't have time for problems and downtime."
In the past, Green Clinic relied on commercially available remote diagnostics software to provide IT support. In some cases, Thomas also had to keep staff around, send them out to sites, and sometimes pay overtime to deal with IT problems. With most of its systems, including medical records and lab data, in a digital format, "we couldn't continue to remain in firefighting mode. We had to take a more proactive and efficient approach," he says. The challenge was magnified by the growing dependence on mobile devices and the need to support them.
To meet these challenges, Green Clinic turned to remote support solutions provider Bomgar to ratchet up its IT administration and support capabilities for employees and across more than 700 devices. It installed a Dell KACE systems deployment appliance for IT management. The system included Bomgar's B200 remote support appliance, which is HIPAA compliant and provides the high level of security required by the clinic. It is hosted within the organization's firewall and it integrates seamlessly with Active Directory for password authentication. It also provides reporting capabilities that simplify auditing.
As a result, Thomas is able to securely control and monitor vendor access to Green Clinic's network. He can also define and terminate privileges for each doctor or vendor accessing the network, which ensures that users only access appropriate systems. The appliance logs every action a user takes while logged into the network. "It provides a high level of access control, but it also has allowed us to provide training when and where it's appropriate," Thomas explains. Employees seek support through a customized portal, and IT support staff is able to conduct presentations from the system itself.
All of this has helped drive efficiency gains and cost savings. IT staff no longer drive out to sites six to 12 times per month to conduct hands-on support. In the past, this translated into an average of five to 10 hours of additional staff time per month. More than 90 percent of support requests now take place through the Bomgar system. "In many cases, IT can be on the phone and in the remote support systems within 30 seconds," Thomas says. "We have seen dramatic improvements in how we manage and support users and in overall satisfaction rates."
About the Author
Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Coping With a Cloud Outage," click here.