The hospital's dedicated job scheduling application helps unify and manage its wide range of data warehousing and report delivery tasks.
"The monitoring and troubleshooting of multi-job events is by far the biggest benefit to us," says Worthing. "We know in advance if a job fails. This has allowed us to course-correct prior to having a user impact."
Rollout was relatively easy. "We previously used Solande, a similar product," Worthing says. "We replaced several jobs at a time in a roll-out fashion. We ran jobs side by side to ensure that they provided similar output, then released them into production." In addition, according to Worthing, ActiveBatch had more breadth functionality-wise, thus enabling the rollout to experience few glitches.
"We did take advantage of that technology to rewrite some of our processes to be more efficient," Worthing says. "As an example, we combined several jobs into a single process, eliminating points of failure and simplifying troubleshooting in the event of failure."
The results and benefits have numerous. The IT department automated a process that downloads a report and creates a multi-tab Excel spreadsheet for the hospital's Health Information Management (HIM) department, which saves the HIM staff more than 50 hours a year, as those daily reports were previously manually developed.
The IT department also developed a file directory with an ActiveBatch file-based trigger tied to it for the hospital's patient accounting department. Prior to this, reports were run manually by uploading large files to an Access database, which provided slowly diminishing database performance over time. With the new file directory, when the patient accounting department drops a new file in the directory, it triggers the process in ActiveBatch, providing the accounting department with a level of self-service automation to run reports when it requires, all without IT’s involvement.
Overall, since adopting ActiveBatch, the hospital's database team has been able to create a central approach to IT automation. "Job queues, for example, don't have to be static," says Worthing. "We may have 12 jobs scheduled in ActiveBatch and, depending on the situation, we might run four at a time, saving another four for later and perhaps the remaining four for 3 a.m. That kind of throttling capability conserves resources. In the past, such a capability would have required a lot of manual scripting." Less scripting allows the IT department to accomplish more with the same headcount, while reducing the costs of outsourcing script development to third-party firms.
Automating and replacing the distribution of paper reports with electronic file distribution has led to additional savings. Previously, hospital departments received two-ring binder reports from the in-house hospital patient system every day. The departments would pull the last page from the reports, which contained the summaries and totals, and throw away the rest of the reports. The hospital now uses ActiveBatch to automate the delivery of the same information in an e-mail, or provide the ability to save the report to a network location.
In terms of the future, "we plan to further the use of ActiveBatch with our Epic enterprise rollout and data warehouse initiatives," Worthing says. "Epic offers an enterprise data warehouse that we will be moving to. At that time, we will need to add a multitude of jobs to support."