IT in Medical Offices: A Use Case

ABC Family Medicine (ABCFM) is a primary care medical office located in West Michigan. Services include physicals, check-ups, testing, x-rays, and other general medical offerings.

Background Info:

  • ABCFM has two office locations and approximately 150 employees (doctors, nurses, administration, janitorial, and support staff).
  • They employ one in-house IT person to manage their technology and relied on some outside IT support.
  • Another local medical office permanently closed and many people transferred to ABCFM as their new provider.

ABCFM is well loved in the community and the two offices are frequently booked weeks in advance of appointments. To handle the influx of scheduling and healthcare records, they wanted to update and modernize their IT environment. They began with an assessment of their current technology use and hardware. ABCFM’s network equipment was almost 10 years old and they used a third-party provider that wouldn’t change their managed services offering to match specific needs. ABCFM outsourced their backups as well, but the cost was burning through their entire IT yearly budget.

Knowing that growth required a change was difficult to justify. ABCFM’s current IT environment was outdated, but it was working. That changed very quickly on a snowy day in January 2016, when two of the main servers crashed. ABCFM contacted their third-party provider to retrieve their backup data, but the tape was no good. This failure caused them to lose 6 months of scheduling data!  They were forced to keep exams rooms open to accommodate unknown “walk-in” scheduled appointments, losing revenue from potential new consultations.

After this disaster, ABCFM knew the time to upgrade was upon them. While looking for prospective solutions, they had several criteria that must be fulfilled.

  1. 1. The new IT must be cost-effective. Their current backup plan was expensive and ended up failing anyway.
  2. 2. Instant recovery is crucial. After the servers crashed, they were essentially stuck for 6 months. The new solution needed to be much faster.
  3. 3. The solution must fit exactly with their needs. Patient growth leads to more processed/stored data, and the IT Manager needed support without exceeding the budget.

ABCFM chose to implement a Cloud Services Package from a local West Michigan company named Iserv. Collaboratively, a new network infrastructure was built to support the medical and office staffs’ devices, creating a seamless transition of documents and images. ABCFM’s scheduling and sensitive medical records were protected with Backup as a Service, not on physical tapes, but in the Iserv Cloud hosted in secure data centers. In addition, ABCFM gained access to Disaster Recovery as a Service to safeguard their data against future unexpected events. Iserv also provided Managed Services to monitor and support the firewalls, servers, and workstations.

With the Cloud Services package, ABCFM’s necessary criteria were met in full.

  1. 1. Unlike their previous provider’s fixed service cost, Iserv uses a scalable Utility Model. ABCFM pays only for the space that they use, instead of a large block. This allows for better allocation of the IT budget as money isn’t wasted on unused resources.
  2. 2. Disaster Recovery as a Service ensures that data is recoverable when the unknown happens. ABCFM lost 6 months when they didn’t have a plan in place; lost time is now reduced to just hours/minutes.
  3. 3. ABCFM only has one IT person, making it difficult to manage the infrastructure for 150 employees without some help. The old provider’s inflexible support structure didn’t match support or service needs. With the Cloud Services Package, ABCFM’s IT person serves as the first level of support and Iserv is a secondary escalation point. For example, the IT person handles parts of the issue that he/she can and Iserv solves the rest. ABCFM cost is prorated for the time Iserv worked, instead of a fixed service block.

6 months later… IT costs are better controlled under the Utility Model and some capital has been allocated for innovative projects. Efficiency and communication have improved greatly, creating a less stressful workplace for everyone. And after years of hard work supporting two locations by himself, the IT person finally got to take a much-needed vacation.