Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.
Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Performance Podcast Series. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your moderator for this ongoing discussion of IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people’s lives.
Our next innovation case study interview highlights how Virginia Healthcare provider Sentara Healthcare improve its IT operations and services delivery at higher quality and higher speed.
We'll learn how it’s improving the IT service management (ITSM) maturity, making IT an internal business-service provider, and how that’s helped them in deploying better services, but also monitoring those services to oversee their applications’ activities.
To learn more about how Sentara Healthcare excelled at application and data delivery and has progressed towards an automated lifecycle approach for high performance management, please join me in welcoming our guest, Jason Siegrist, Manager of Enterprise Management Technologies at Sentara. Welcome. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Jason Siegrist: Glad to be here.
Gardner: Let’s paint the picture. Apps, of course, are always important, but in your business, healthcare, getting those apps so the people seems to be more important than in the past. Is there a shift here, where the emphasis is on speed and access to data? How has the notion of an application been changing for your users?
Siegrist: At Sentara Healthcare, and actually most healthcare organizations, the interest has been trying to get to electronic medical records (EMR) to make it easier and to reduce risks associated with caring for patients.
Patients are looking to get access to that data quicker, be able to see lab results in a timely manner, and be able to schedule appointments with doctors. We're trying to make those systems available to them in a secure way so that they're confident that their personal information is safe and protected.
Gardner: Of course, as end users, they just see the apps, but there's a lot going on behind the scenes to make sure that they are performing properly and that they get to where they are supposed to. Tell us why maturity and progressing toward better application culture and behavior has been important for you.
Better healthcare decisions
Siegrist: In healthcare, the face of healthcare is still our doctors, nurses, and technical staff. However, we're trying to make sure we can enable those doctors and nurses to make better healthcare decisions and allow them to work interactively among each other, even when they're not in the same building.
So all these systems -- in Sentara there are about 17 of them -- have to be integrated in such a way that we guarantee that their work being collected and going to the right patient, and at the same time, when they're requesting information, they're getting the right patient data back.
Gardner: Those are the requirements, that’s the goal, but what about inside your IT organization? How have you been able to change and adapt so that you can deliver these and improve? What's the underlying shift internally.
Siegrist: Our big secret isn't really a secret anymore. Previously, every organization always looked at IT as being a very expensive cost center. We've been working very hard internally to change that discussion to be that we're enabling the business.
We've done that by doing some creative and unique processes. We bring in the pharmacist, for example. We make him the owner of the pharmacy app. Now, we have direct buy-in from a pharmacist who is a part of the IT process that selects the application and figures out how to integrate it.
Through that process, he's able to act as our champion in the pharmacy space and talk to his fellow pharmacists, saying "We have selected this, and I've been a part of that process." So we're involving them in the process, and at the same time, it's not an IT-focused or IT-forced initiative. We really are enabling business.
Gardner: It’s impressive to me that you're doing this at significant scale. Tell us a little bit about Sentara, how big it is, how many apps you have, and the fact that you're distributed over fairly large geographic area in Virginia.
Siegrist: In the healthcare space, you measure it by hospitals. I think we're at 11 hospitals these days. We're always looking to expand and grow. We're out on the western edge of Virginia in the Blue Ridge Parkway area, as well as Hampton Roads and up to DC. So, we're in Virginia and a little bit in North Carolina.
Having these maturities in these processes has enabled us to include the business in the IT decisions. As we start building the monitoring, we start building the proactive analysis, in the troubleshooting. Our mean time to repair has gone down. We support larger populations with fewer staff, whether that's with internal systems or internal hardware. We built these automation processes and we built these systems with the idea that we want to be as lean as possible, and at the same time, deliver quality healthcare services.
Gardner: It’s impressive to me too that you have charted out a maturity roadmap for yourselves and you've been in it for several years. Tell me where you evaluate yourself now and where you came from.
Siegrist: Like anybody, this really is an organizational learning process as well as a cultural shift and change. Several years ago, my boss, Betsy Meadows, had started the process about how we want to deploy ITIL. It all started around measuring network performance.
Ultimately, that grew into the idea that in order to do that, we have to do with network monitoring. We have to capture incidents and we have to capture that downtime, and by the way there is downtime that’s legitimate because we are doing maintenance.
Then, we had to think about how to capture maintenance events as downtime? So this process grew and grew. Over the last 8 to 10 years, we went from being very new in the process to where we are today. This is something every company goes through as far as maturation process.
Today there is a scale out there. It says, 1 to 5. I’d say we are solidly 4-point something, if you do the math. But we have adopted a lot of processes at level 5 and at level 4. It’s allowed us to make smart decisions and make smart financial decisions as well.
Gardner: What have been some of the important tools that you've used to get there and what do you look to in terms of getting to that higher level of maturity? What are some of the ways that technology can come to bear on that?
Siegrist: Well, the reality is the workforce. As more and more young people under the workforce, they are coming with a predefined set of skills. I'm still young at 40, but my son can operate an iPad and he is three. He has no problems at all navigating that space.
The reality is that a younger workforce has an expectation of services and delivery. To that end, we're trying to enable our customers to have the ability to go out and do some of these things themselves. It's like an a la carte process, where they can say, "I want this level of monitoring. I want my application monitor this way. I’d like to see this dashboard here."
The application performance management suite that’s available from a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, has given us one more tool in our arsenal of solutions that allowed us to pass that out to the customer and say, "If you want to go make your monitor and you have a synthetic transaction or you want diagnostics-level knowledge about your application, here is a delivery channel to do that."
Gardner: You're a big user of HP. Tell us a little bit about the Business Services Management (BSM) suite, your involvement, and also the performance.
Siegrist: Ten years ago, we started out with HP Network Node Management (NNM), which is the network monitoring solution, and then moved into HP Open View (OVO), which is now called Operations Manager. So it’s been through several iterations, but over the last 10 years, we made lots of decisions about what tools to use.
We've always tried to go with best-of-breed where appropriate, and it happens to be that for us, the best-of-breed for us has been the HP solution set. It’s enabled us to get deeper into the applications and given us multiple ways to solve different problems.
Nothing is free in life. So we always want to try and give our customers options for which path they want to take and what level of the knowledge they want in the application space.
To this end, with the APM SaaS solution, it’s an operational expense. They don’t have to buy it in whole. They don’t have to deploy everything. They can just start. So, as I said It's an a-la-carte model. It let’s them just choose just a little or a lot, and then you can bite off the bigger pieces of pie that they're willing to tolerate.
Gardner: How do these tools support your drive towards greater mobility and development of applications so that there is a lifecycle where the development, the deployment, and then the operations can relate to each other for a higher efficiency, productivity, and benefit of the users?
Siegrist: Our customer base is interested in trying to have a way to interact with the doctors, and as more-and-more tablets and PCs and smartphones hit the market, we're looking for delivery solutions that provide that.
Our partner for our EMR is Epic. We use their solution for contacting and working with the doctors. It's called MyChart, and that tool gives them the ability to do that. As more-and-more of these devices get out there, the population gets younger. They have an expectation of service delivery through that channel, and Sentara is working to meet that expectation. This gives us the ability to monitor that application to make sure it's working properly.
Gardner: Are the doctors welcoming these technology shifts? Has there been any change because you have been able to do this with delivery, services orientation, and service bureau types of benefits? Do you see a reaction in terms of their acceptance of it?
Siegrist: Well, the value is that the face of customer care in healthcare is still doctors and nurses. Where we often have run into problems is when you start doing things like transcription or prescription order writing.
Today, the doctors are doing those themselves and they are documenting their own notes. There was initially some push-back because it's different than what they were used to. The reality is that they're able to make the notes and to do it very quickly, and they are able to review those.
Perception of savings
In the past, they had to go to a transcriptionist, and transcriptionist would type it. Then, they’d have to validate what the transcriptionists wrote, so they really didn’t save any time through that other process. All they had was the perception of time savings.
The adoption rate has been pretty high. Again, we have younger doctors hitting the market. They're looking for similar types of behaviors, and it allows them to be able to provide better customer service as well.
Gardner: You mentioned earlier that it’s about SaaS and the ability to pick and choose the type of deployment model for your apps, services, and even infrastructure. Do you have any thoughts about where you're heading in terms of more choice in hybrid or cloud models?
Siegrist: For most health organizations, and I'm probably in line here with my peers as well, there's always a concern about HIPAA. We're trying to make sure that, as we move forward with monitoring these things in the data landing in the cloud, we are protecting patient data. We are moving tentatively into that space and doing a little bit at a time to prevent and avoid any risk associated with patient data loss.
Gardner: Well, great. That makes a good sense, and I appreciate your spending some time with us. We've been learning about how Virginia healthcare provider Sentara Healthcare has improved its IT operations and services delivery for higher quality and speed, and we have seen how Sentara gained an IT service management maturity and deployed monitoring dashboards to better oversee and advance their applications.
Please join me now in thanking our guest, Jason Siegrist, Manager of Enterprise Management Technologies at Sentara. Thanks, Jason.
Siegrist: Thanks, Dana.
Gardner: And thank you too to our audience, for joining us for this special HP Discover Performance podcast, coming to you from the recent HP Discover 2013 Conference in Las Vegas. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of HP-sponsored discussions.
Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.
Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how a healthcare provider is deploying and monitoring IT operations and services for better patient care. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2013. All rights reserved.
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