Regaining productivity, agility, and cost control

How Salem Health reduced IT costs, saving $900,000 annually.

Imagine losing a day of workforce productivity—every day—waiting for an application to launch. Even in today’s age of fast, powerful computing, it is not as uncommon as one might think. In fact, this was the circumstance recently facing Salem Health, a collection of hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and physician clinics in the Pacific Northwest.

“As a healthcare organization, we rely heavily on Epic software for our clinical and business operations,” says Sara Iodice, Technical Director for Salem Health. “But we were having latency problems with our former infrastructure, and it was taking anywhere from 60 to 150 seconds for our clinicians to log in.”

The result? Roughly 24 hours of lost productivity each day among Salem Health’s 1600 Epic users, and a number of frustrated physicians, patients, and IT administrators.

It is easy to mistake technology performance for convenience. But when the collective efficiency of an organization suffers, more than patience is taxed. For Salem Health, an aging infrastructure supported by an ineffective service provider created limitations, discord, and high costs.

“Our previous situation was a red tape nightmare,” explains David Olszewski, Data Architect for Salem Health. “We couldn’t do anything from an IT standpoint, even simple day-to-day things, without a contract negotiation from our service provider. It was slow, it was expensive, and we were largely hamstrung in our ability to support the business.

“We needed to regain control of our environment,” he adds, “in order to become more agile.”

Salem Health did just that. Deploying the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®), which is based on Intel® Xeon® processors, in its data center and at a collocation site in Portland, Oregon, the healthcare conglomerate reclaimed its IT infrastructure and its ability to support clinical and business operations.

“Moving to Cisco UCS® allowed us to significantly consolidate and standardize our environment,” says Olszewski. “Our support, hardware, and licensing costs are all lower.”

Significantly lower. According to both Iodice and Olszewski, the transition has reduced Salem Health’s IT costs by a whopping 68 percent compared to its original service provider contract, representing $900,000 in annual savings. It has freed the organization’s IT staff to deliver what the business needs. And they can manage and protect the infrastructure better than ever before.

Refreshing Salem Health’s replica production environment—which is used for test, development, troubleshooting, backup, and disaster recovery—used to take 22 hours and was therefore conducted weekly. These refreshes now take a scant four hours and are performed daily.

Most importantly, Salem Health’s clinicians are more productive and its patients are receiving better, more efficient care. Logging into the Epic application takes 10-15 seconds instead of one or two minutes, nearly eliminating the lost productivity of the past.

“We used to get complaints every week about the slow log-in times,” says Iodice. “Since our transition to Cisco UCS, we haven’t had a single gripe.”

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