Renown Health Transforms Its IT EnvironmentBy Samuel Greengard
Building an IT platform that supports real-time digital operations is the goal of virtually every CIO, but translating a strategy into actual technology can be challenging. For Renown Health, a Reno, Nevada-based not-for-profit healthcare network with more than 750 beds and nearly 5,000 caregivers spread across Northern Nevada and northeast California, the concept became very real a few years ago.
"We had a single, antiquated data center in place," recalls CIO Ron Fuschillo. "We had a hodgepodge of servers, five different backup systems and several operating systems in use. The reality was that we were operating in a very inefficient way."
As a mid-tier healthcare provider operating on slim margins, the situation was unsustainable. IT costs were spiking and performance was declining.
"You don't want to be in a situation where a patient walks in for a procedure at 2 a.m. and it isn't available because systems are down," Fuschillo says. "We needed to move to a much more efficient and secure IT environment."
The healthcare system, working closely with strategic IT solutions provider Trace3, embarked on a complete data center redesign and IT refresh in early 2016.
Fuschillo and the IT staff at Renown Health reviewed proposals from 18 vendors—many offering radically different approaches and information technology frameworks. After working with Trace3 to make the final selection, the organization began mapping out the transition and then migrating systems and applications to the new Switch SUPERNAP data center, with facilities at dual locations in Reno and Las Vegas.
The highly scalable environment—essentially operating as a private cloud—delivers complete fail-over redundancy for data and applications. Renown Health mitigates risk by owning all of its hardware and setting up the IT framework in a private cloud.
Cutting Costs, Boosting Flexibility
The initiative has helped Renown reduce its data center footprint by 70 percent, trim data center costs by 50 percent over five years and cut IT operations expenses by about 20 percent. Yet the managed services framework has also produced a number of practical benefits, including a big boost in flexibility.
"We used to have planned downtime four or five times per month," Fuschillo explains. "During those times, some crucial systems were down." Today, planned downtime is rare.
In addition, IT staffing is more efficient, licensing is less complicated, and security has improved. Most importantly, "We have far better alignment with business needs," Fuschillo points out. This will help Renown add other digital capabilities, including internet of things (IoT) systems and devices.
From the start, Fuschillo wanted to break away from conventional healthcare industry thinking. "Unfortunately, many industries have leaped ahead of healthcare in terms of adopting advanced information technology frameworks," he notes. "CIOs in this industry must stop making excuses about why they are lagging behind other industries.
"We view this IT framework as a significant strategic advantage. We no longer have bloated IT, and we have eliminated technical debt."
"We have moved to a real-time healthcare framework by rebuilding our technology stack from the ground up," Fuschillo adds. "We are now well-positioned for the future."