When I joined T2 Tech Group in 2012, my first assignment was to function as an IT program manager at Kootenai Health. This partnership with Kootenai Health was incredibly rewarding for me because I got to work alongside talented medical and IT professionals to improve workflow. I also had the opportunity to help dedicated hospital staff facilitate long-term improvements to the healthcare organization’s IT systems.
As our newly published case study, Kootenai Health: Journey of a Five-Year Partnership, explains in-depth, we worked on a fundamental restructuring of Kootenai Health’s IT ecosystem. This project involved updating the healthcare organization’s networking system, datacenter, electronic health record (EHR) system and more.
Concerning our work at Kootenai, Michael Gaul, the Chief Information Officer at Kootenai Health, highlighted T2 Tech by stating, “They were a critical partner in assisting our IT staff in developing a high-volume, redundant network; an enterprise-class, redundant virtual desktop and server environment; and an enterprise-class, redundant data storage environment. Within the first 18 months their efforts helped Kootenai Health achieve >99.9% network uptime, a >90% server virtualization and a >99.9% system uptime.”
An IT system impacts everyone in a healthcare facility. The success of projects over the years at Kootenai Health could only be possible by consistently considering everyone involved, from clinicians to patients. We had to collaboratively update their IT ecosystem and, at times, balance between detailed planning and agile flexibility. Our project management approach allowed for evolving feedback and ensured all voices were heard and we stayed on path.
Overhauling the datacenter to improve Kootenai Health’s EHR
At the time I arrived, Kootenai Health was outsourcing their Meditech EHR system to a third party and were frequently experiencing problems with significant user interface lags and the potential for extended and unplanned system downtimes. When we helped them regain control of their EHR, we made sure their datacenter, storage and computing environment were up to the task of providing the kind of performance and uptimes that clinicians need from an EHR. This meant redundancy was needed as a failover solution in case of emergency, and we had to sync data with their secondary off-site datacenter.
Refurbishing and consolidating Kootenai Health’s network
Part of our efforts at Kootenai Health also included refurbishing their network. We initially assessed their network environment. Next, we designed a plan to consolidate their network and procured the right hardware at a discounted price to implement a new, simplified network.
Due to the fact that T2 Tech was involved in strategic planning with IT leadership from the beginning, we were able to foresee the needed infrastructure improvements that would be required in order to improve application delivery. Combining this knowledge with our unique methodology, we were able incrementally implement a more coordinated effort that allowed us to accommodate the constant changes in technology that can happen over a multiple-year program like this. The updated network infrastructure we were able to deploy is an improvement for all applications hosted at the hospital, from their EHR to tools such as an interactive patient system that allows patients to stream educational and entertainment content at the bedside.
Long-lasting improvements for Kootenai Health
At Kootenai Health, we were able to lead initiatives that resulted in an improved email system, storage with redundancy, a consolidated network, a virtualized datacenter, and a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and integrated single sign-on (SSO) system. By working with Kootenai Health’s team over a long period of time and creating a strong partnership, our efforts have resulted in greater productivity for the staff, savings in procurement and licensing, and a scalable infrastructure that will support new and existing applications.
Ultimately, our goal at Kootenai Health was to provide long-lasting improvements for our partner. This meant it was not enough to just enter the client partnership and allow the addition of extra technologies because they were novel or worked in other IT environments. Instead, we looked at the big picture, selected solutions that were appropriate for Kootenai Health and made sure whatever we installed could be efficiently integrated into their processes and infrastructure. This mindset helped us accomplish this work, and I am confident it will help guide us to success in future endeavors.