Information technology is increasingly becoming the hub of business operations. It’s no different in the healthcare industry where IT has not only become a hub, but also a catalyst for care improvement. In fact, in the post-acute care sector it is critical that we leverage the promise of Healthcare IT to improve patient’s experience and reduce costs. As the CIO of Consulate Health Care, I’m focused on ensuring that our IT systems enable health data to flow seamlessly across the continuum of care and land in the hands of providers at the point of care. In addition, we need to take that complex data and make sure that patients and their loved ones receive meaningful information about their health and healthcare. My department’s focus is employing stable and secure technology that allows our practitioners to do their jobs in the most effective and efficient manner.
“Information technology is increasingly becoming the hub of business operations”
More than ever, it is important for the IT department and our business partners to be in lock-step. As Consulate Health Care has grown from a regional system to one of the nation's leading providers of senior health care services, we have built a large workforce that is widely distributed and highly mobile. With this growth we’ve identified the need to control application support, reduce administrative costs, minimize our server farm footprint and extend the life of our existing endpoints. What Consulate needed was a way to control application support costs while improving the practitioner experience. We needed to be able to manage every endpoint device, and it had to be flexible enough to deliver legacy apps to those who needed them, alongside the latest and greatest services we were rolling out at the time.
In Citrix we found a partner that has helped us accomplish these goals. One of the important steps that we took was to virtualize all of our Microsoft Windows applications on Citrix XenApp, migrating them to a new server farm in Consulate Health Care’s headquarter datacenter for delivery to users as secure mobile services. Centralizing the application hosting simplified and streamlined the process for Consulate’s systems administrators. The Citrix Provisioning Services also helped reduce the storage requirements of server nodes leading to a total savings of 4.5TB and a significant reduction in costs.
We have made large investments in enabling simple, secure wireless infrastructure as well as the virtualization of a large part of our data center to prepare for a homogenous look and feel for the applications that practitioners will use on mobile devices at our patients’ bedsides. A key benefit of this infrastructure is the ability to employ some of the emergent technologies to the direct application of healthcare that saves unnecessary return trips to the hospitals and keeps our patients comfortable while they are in our care centers. These initiatives come in the form of applications that properly use the expanding data available to our practitioners as well as connecting remote practitioners through telemedicine. Centralizing and virtualizing its business applications has given new life to Consulate’s PCs.
Additionally, containerizing any personal health information that we store is certainly one of the utmost concerns that we have. By virtualizing our applications, the Citrix environment gives us the ability to very quickly grant and rescind access to the applications that contain that type of information. Perhaps the most important benefit Consulate has realized through its change in application delivery is improving service delivery to caregivers and patients, and thus the ability to respond more quickly to our users’ needs. There’s a sign hanging in the IT department that reads, ‘If you’re not helping one of our patients, you’d better be helping someone who is’.
That’s what it means to be in IT here at Consulate. We’re always looking for ways to utilize technology to put better tools in the hands of our caregivers. As technology, infrastructure and applications have evolved we are able to do so much more for our patients at their bedside, enabling things like real-time updates to patients and their families. Delivering a consistent, efficient user experience with the right data at the right time, whether the device is a laptop, a kiosk, or a mobile device, is much more feasible today than it was just a few years ago. The sheer level of communication and patient engagement will transform the industry as we know it.