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The Expertise That’s Remaking OU Well being right into a High-Tier Medical Heart

I maintain each day standing conferences with varied teams inside our expertise workforce, and the questions virtually at all times drifts to: “What’s at the moment’s problem?”  Typically that problem could be, “We are able to’t print at certainly one of our ambulatory care services,” or “As we speak, we will’t ship diagnostic pictures to our distant Radiologists.” The assembly helps us to focus our consideration, and because the CTO of OU Well being in Oklahoma Metropolis, my job is to remove the problems that crop up on these conferences and work to attenuate or remove these points repeating sooner or later.

To take action, we wanted to deal with the basis of the issue. This, together with our need to exchange our digital well being report and income cycle system, contributed to OU Well being’s resolution to fully overhaul our IT infrastructure in assist of our long-term organizational wants.

OU Well being strives to convey innovation to our sufferers. As a tutorial well being system, we function certainly one of 71 Nationwide Most cancers Institute-designated most cancers facilities within the nation, Oklahoma’s solely Degree I trauma heart and the state’s highest degree NICU, providing high-quality affected person care and working medical trials resulting in thrilling new therapies. Greater than fixing our each day complications, our IT overhaul will basically rework how we handle our infrastructure and administer the enterprise and medical methods we use to assist our healthcare professionals and sufferers.

A whole revamp of a well being system’s IT infrastructure is a frightening activity. To make use of a well-worn cliché, it’s like making an attempt to work on the engine of a shifting prepare. The method has taken dedication and cautious planning, the work of my workforce and the assist of expertise companions like Cisco to place collectively and roll out an answer throughout OU Well being’s websites.

A Recent Begin, a Greenfield Community, and Some Limitations

I’ve had the privilege of working in healthcare IT for over 13 years. My earlier expertise consists of serving because the VP of Expertise Structure at Cablevision for seven years and two years at Discovery because the SVP of Enterprise Structure, the place I gained a wealth of information in telecommunications and leisure. Following a six-month sabbatical, I had the chance to return to my earlier function, however I made a decision to make use of my experience to help others in a way more impactful manner. Watching my spouse struggling for years together with her group’s IT as a household observe supplier and educator made me understand the difficulties that come up when coping with healthcare IT methods. Because of a buddy I had labored with earlier in my profession, I joined a healthcare consulting firm launching my profession in healthcare IT to assist physicians and sufferers obtain the absolute best outcomes in medical care.

OU Well being formally launched in July 2021, following a historic merger that mixed the College of Oklahoma School of Medication school observe and OU Medication, Inc. (sole member, College Hospitals Belief) to create OU Well being — Oklahoma’s first totally built-in tutorial well being system. The merger aligned the OU Well being medical enterprise with nationwide greatest practices throughout the healthcare trade and enabled the hospitals and clinics to turn into one unified and cohesive group.

Since my arrival at OU Well being in March of 2022, I’ve labored carefully with our IT management workforce on the Epic migration undertaking. This initiative moved OU Well being to a brand new EHR system. To attain this, we deployed a greenfield answer, which concerned organising new networks, methods, information facilities and purposes, whereas maintaining our legacy methods working.

Sadly, our surroundings was not in the most effective form. It featured outdated gear, overlapping options, outdated code, unpatched gear, and extra, which triggered quite a few challenges. Our community was additionally very gradual, which meant that it took 15 to half-hour for a radiologist to obtain X-rays and CAT scans at our distant places.

This hindered workflows and triggered frustration amongst our clinicians and hospital employees. They needed to name us every time one thing went unsuitable, and we had no method to proactively monitor and restore our methods. When a hyperlink went down, we didn’t know find out how to restore it. It was clear that an overhaul was mandatory to make sure that our healthcare professionals might give attention to caring for his or her sufferers and never fear about technical points.

We Wished Redundancy, Resilience, and Efficiency—That Meant Cisco

Healthcare organizations are considerably conservative when procuring IT. We don’t search for the most recent answer, nor will we have a look at the most cost effective. We don’t lower prices as a result of sufferers’ lives are at stake. As an alternative, we have a look at essentially the most superior tried and true methods. We take this strategy when deciding on lab gear, imaging and diagnostic methods, surgical provides, and extra.

At OU Well being, we now have a long-standing relationship with Cisco, and our lead engineer holds CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure certification. Our inside undertaking supervisor additionally brings many years of expertise in managing large-scale Cisco deployments. Everyone knows that Cisco can ship extremely performant, redundant and resilient infrastructure. Nevertheless, my job requires me to be goal, so I attend occasions like Gartner Summits and the annual HIMSS International Well being Convention & Exhibition to see what’s on the market. I’ve a wonderful grasp of the expertise panorama, and I’ve but to discover a accomplice that may ship on its guarantees like Cisco.

Hospitals are 24/7 establishments, and hospital infrastructure should totally assist a never-down situation.

After we created the specs for our new surroundings, we checked out three issues: excessive redundancy, excessive resilience, and excessive efficiency. OU Well being, like most healthcare organizations, runs 24 hours a day, seven days every week, and our infrastructure should totally assist a never-down situation. When it got here time to construct our new surroundings, we didn’t ask, “Why Cisco?” The actual query was, “Why not Cisco?”

Redefining Our Community with Software program-Outlined Networking

When it got here time to pitch our new infrastructure, the workforce labored with Cisco’s community architects, exterior companions, and our inside lead architects. We put collectively a funding request and offered it to our board. We anticipated our executives to approve lower than what our budgeted request was, however as an alternative we got the inexperienced gentle to construct the whole lot we had requested for – a state-of-the-art community and system surroundings that might put OU Well being on the map as a top-tier medical heart.

We constructed our new community on Cisco expertise. Its core layer is Cisco ACI (Utility Centric Infrastructure), a software-defined networking answer, to assist section our community. We constructed redundant high-speed hyperlinks all through our Large Space Community (WAN) and a number of paths connecting our core community to our hospitals, clinics, and ambulatory methods. Then we now have a number of routers to deal with our software-defined community and segmentation. If a router or section fails, we divert site visitors to another path.

We use Cisco ACI to route site visitors to particular locations inside our community. An excellent instance is lab outcomes. Our lab gear doesn’t talk with the surface world, however our technicians should ship outcomes to our EMR. So, we’ve segmented the community to switch outcomes solely to particular servers that then add them to our information methods.

Affected person well being consists of their healthcare information, and we prioritize the safety round our sufferers’ protected well being data (PHI). We used ACI to create a firewalled zone for PHI and different delicate information per HIPAA laws. Customers can solely entry that surroundings in the event that they’re performing a transaction requiring that data.

We additionally use Cisco UCS servers for scalable effectivity and agility, Cisco Identification Companies Engine (ISE) for endpoint administration, and we go end-to-end on Cisco wi-fi options, consisting of Cisco Catalyst 9130AX and 9166 entry factors and 9800-80 controllers. As well as, we adopted Cisco VDI to combine a few of our legacy methods (working on historical machines) into our new infrastructure. Virtualizing these permits us to maintain them working till we’re capable of substitute the methods with out disrupting care.

Migrating Our Knowledge Facilities to Guarantee IT Transparency

Our three new information facilities carry the load of our new community. Two of our information facilities are energetic/energetic and mirror one another, splitting our workloads in two and with every facility working at 50% capability. Our third information heart is for catastrophe restoration (DR) and has redundant hyperlinks to all our hospitals, clinics, and ambulatory methods. Ought to the unthinkable occur and our main information facilities fail, the third information heart will guarantee we stay operational.

Certainly one of our largest challenges and alternatives was migrating our methods and infrastructure to new, extra sustainable information facilities. As an alternative of constructing our personal on-prem information facilities, we determined to accomplice with a top-tier co-location facility who might host our information facilities and decrease our footprint dramatically. We partnered with TierPoint, and had been one of many first shoppers at their new facility constructed with effectivity in thoughts. They architected the facility, cooling, HVAC, and constructing supplies to cut back their carbon footprint. We profit from strong redundancy and backup options, and the energy-efficient expertise helps decrease our working bills whereas defending the surroundings. Shifting our information heart off-prem was certainly one of our greatest enterprise and tech choices.

On June 3, 2023, OU Well being went dwell with Epic and our new infrastructure. We had already moved to our new main community in March 2023, however this was the ultimate check. We’re already reaping the rewards of our new Cisco infrastructure. We’re not fielding complaints about gradual Wi-Fi speeds, connection failures, community section outages and VPN points. OU Well being can entry what they want shortly, getting sufferers what they want sooner. I look ahead to sitting down with our care groups to seek out methods to develop, innovate and construct on our new platform.

Cisco Is Serving to OU Well being Elevate Our Group

Earlier than lengthy, my IT workforce will be capable of leverage our new Cisco community to allow and execute OU Well being’s enterprise imaginative and prescient. We are able to combine new departments, places, and services into our community sooner as a result of we anticipated the necessity to construct extra WAN connections and have a complete map of each present and future state. Prior to now, each community addition was a one-off occasion. However now, we will develop our platform as wanted so as to add highly effective new purposes like information analytics and inhabitants well being administration (PHM) instruments to mixture affected person data throughout a number of methods and applied sciences. Now that we now have rolled out Epic, we now have a strong basis to assist us push the envelope of high quality affected person care and cutting-edge analysis.

The perfect minds gravitate to organizations that allow them add worth by supporting a enterprise imaginative and prescient as an alternative of fixing issues.

Our new Cisco infrastructure is a helpful retention and recruitment device. Clinicians and researchers additionally need to work in high-tech environments. They would like user-friendly methods over fighting digital types, drowning in countless emails, or ready hours for medical pictures, check outcomes, and trial and affected person information. After they have essentially the most environment friendly instruments and IT works flawlessly, they will give attention to their sufferers and analysis.

OU Well being is on a mission to raise and rework our group right into a top-tier tutorial well being system. Our management sees expertise as key to delivering on our imaginative and prescient and enterprise technique. We’re increasing our providers and analysis initiatives and can proceed to innovate in diabetes and most cancers care, pediatrics, and geriatrics. We need to make a distinction in Oklahoma and past by bringing the most effective medical care to the populations we serve.




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