Cloud Boosts Productivity at Hunterdon HealthcareBy Samuel Greengard
Healthcare providers are under increasing pressure to improve outcomes and lower costs. Not surprisingly, IT is at the center of this evolution.
One organization navigating the challenge is Hunterdon Healthcare, a New Jersey provider with one hospital, 65 ambulatory locations and about 300 physicians. "We were looking to solve several business challenges, including the need to replace an aging and ailing email system," says CIO Daniel Morreale. "The one thing we were completely sure about was that we wanted to become as 'cloudy' as possible."
Yet, the move to the cloud wasn't just an opportunity to simplify IT and cut costs, he says. The goal was also to boost communication and collaboration within a digital framework.
"We wanted to connect all the different locations and create a uniform experience, whether the person is using a desktop, laptop or handheld device," Morreale explains. "We wanted to schedule large group activities and events with a software solution." The end goal, he adds, was to streamline access to information so that medical professionals and administrators could work faster and more effectively.
Motivations for Adopting the Google Platform
In early 2015, the IT team at Hunterdon Healthcare began exploring its options and considering a major upgrade. It turned to SADA Systems to provide strategic consulting expertise. "We looked at a variety of technologies and approaches," Morreale reports.
The facility eventually selected Google G Suite and went live with the platform in June 2016. "The fact that Gmail was ubiquitous, and there would be less of a learning curve for our organizational staff was appealing," he points out. "There were also advantages to adopting Google Drive, Google Calendar and other productivity tools."
Morreale says that one of the motivations for adopting the Google platform was a desire for deep adoption and use, rather than simply widespread use. With the new system, workers can handle calendaring tasks from anywhere using any device; they can co-create and co-edit documents and spreadsheets; and they can share them through the cloud-based drive.
"We now have the ability to move faster and more dynamically as an organization," he says. This has helped streamline everything from meeting agendas and presentation planning to the budget process. For example, the 2015 budgeting process required more than three months to complete, but the 2016 process took only about three weeks.
"People had access to critical information faster, and they were able to act on it promptly," he explains.
The biggest challenge in making the transition to the Google G Suite platform was simply getting everyone in sync. "There were some significant changes in the way people handle tasks compared to their previous solutions," Morreale points out.
One of the obstacles was getting people to adjust to a new way of creating groups and managing distribution lists. As a result, there was a need to overcome some resistance and provide education and training about how to use the new system. "It required more attention than we initially expected," he says.
Despite that hurdle, the initiative has been transformative. In addition to improving the organization's agility and productivity, it has helped IT cut costs while also becoming more strategic. For instance, the cloud-based platform has helped free a full-time equivalent employee from administrative tasks and shift the focus to high-value work. Morreale anticipates the organization saving approximately $1.3 million per year.
"We have optimized and improved processes across the organization," he reports."People are now better connected and able to do their work more effectively."