The Technology That’s Remaking OU Health into a Top-Tier Medical Center

I maintain every day standing conferences with numerous teams inside our expertise group, and the questions nearly all the time drifts to: “What’s at this time’s problem?”  Typically that problem is likely to be, “We are able to’t print at one in all our ambulatory care amenities,” or “At the moment, 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 get rid of the problems that crop up on these conferences and work to attenuate or get rid of these points repeating sooner or later.

To take action, we would have liked to deal with the foundation of the issue. This, together with our want to interchange our digital well being file and income cycle system, contributed to OU Well being’s choice to utterly overhaul our IT infrastructure in assist of our long-term organizational wants.

OU Well being strives to carry innovation to our sufferers. As an instructional well being system, we function one in all 71 Nationwide Most cancers Institute-designated most cancers facilities within the nation, Oklahoma’s solely Degree I trauma heart and the state’s highest stage NICU, providing high-quality affected person care and working medical trials resulting in thrilling new therapies. Greater than fixing our every day complications, our IT overhaul will essentially remodel how we handle our infrastructure and administer the enterprise and medical techniques we use to assist our healthcare professionals and sufferers.

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

A Contemporary Begin, a Greenfield Community, and Some Limitations

I’ve had the privilege of working in healthcare IT for over 13 years. My earlier expertise contains serving because the VP of Know-how Structure at Cablevision for seven years and two years at Discovery because the SVP of Enterprise Structure, the place I gained a wealth of data in telecommunications and leisure. Following a six-month sabbatical, I had the chance to return to my earlier position, however I made a decision to make use of my experience to help others in a way more impactful means. Watching my spouse struggling for years along with her group’s IT as a household apply supplier and educator made me understand the difficulties that come up when coping with healthcare IT techniques. Due to a good friend 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 very best outcomes in medical care.

OU Well being formally launched in July 2021, following a historic merger that mixed the College of Oklahoma Faculty of Drugs school apply and OU Drugs, Inc. (sole member, College Hospitals Belief) to create OU Well being — Oklahoma’s first absolutely built-in tutorial well being system. The merger aligned the OU Well being medical enterprise with nationwide finest practices throughout the healthcare business 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 intently with our IT management group on the Epic migration mission. This initiative moved OU Well being to a brand new EHR system. To realize this, we deployed a greenfield answer, which concerned organising new networks, techniques, information facilities and functions, whereas preserving our legacy techniques working.

Sadly, the environment was not in one of the best form. It featured outdated gear, overlapping options, outdated code, unpatched gear, and extra, which brought about quite a few challenges. Our community was additionally very sluggish, 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 brought about frustration amongst our clinicians and hospital workers. They needed to name us every time one thing went improper, and we had no approach to proactively monitor and restore our techniques. When a hyperlink went down, we didn’t know easy methods 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 Needed 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 can we take a look at the most affordable. We don’t reduce prices as a result of sufferers’ lives are at stake. As a substitute, we take a look at essentially the most superior tried and true techniques. We take this method when choosing lab gear, imaging and diagnostic techniques, surgical provides, and extra.

At OU Well being, we’ve got a long-standing relationship with Cisco, and our lead engineer holds CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure certification. Our inner mission supervisor additionally brings a long time of expertise in managing large-scale Cisco deployments. Everyone knows that Cisco can ship extremely performant, redundant and resilient infrastructure. Nonetheless, 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 superb 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 absolutely assist a never-down state of affairs.

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 absolutely assist a never-down state of affairs. When it got here time to construct our new surroundings, we didn’t ask, “Why Cisco?” The true query was, “Why not Cisco?”

Redefining Our Community with Software program-Outlined Networking

When it got here time to pitch our new infrastructure, the group labored with Cisco’s community architects, exterior companions, and our inner 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 a substitute we got the inexperienced mild to construct the whole lot we had requested for – a state-of-the-art community and system surroundings that will 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 Extensive Space Community (WAN) and a number of paths connecting our core community to our hospitals, clinics, and ambulatory techniques. Then we’ve got a number of routers to deal with our software-defined community and segmentation. If a router or section fails, we divert visitors to another path.

We use Cisco ACI to route visitors to particular locations inside our community. An incredible 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 techniques.

Affected person well being contains their healthcare information, and we prioritize the safety round our sufferers’ protected well being info (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 info.

We additionally use Cisco UCS servers for scalable effectivity and agility, Cisco Identification Providers 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 techniques (working on historic machines) into our new infrastructure. Virtualizing these permits us to maintain them working till we’re in a position to substitute the techniques with out disrupting care.

Migrating Our Information Facilities to Guarantee IT Transparency

Our three new information facilities carry the load of our new community. Two of our information facilities are lively/lively 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 techniques. Ought to the unthinkable occur and our major information facilities fail, the third information heart will guarantee we stay operational.

One among our largest challenges and alternatives was migrating our techniques and infrastructure to new, extra sustainable information facilities. As a substitute 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 have been one of many first purchasers at their new facility constructed with effectivity in thoughts. They architected the facility, cooling, HVAC, and constructing supplies to scale 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 one in all our greatest enterprise and tech choices.

On June 3, 2023, OU Well being went stay with Epic and our new infrastructure. We had already moved to our new major community in March 2023, however this was the ultimate check. We’re already reaping the rewards of our new Cisco infrastructure. We’re now not fielding complaints about sluggish Wi-Fi speeds, connection failures, community section outages and VPN points. OU Well being can entry what they want rapidly, getting sufferers what they want quicker. 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 group will have the ability to 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 amenities into our community quicker 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 functions like information analytics and inhabitants well being administration (PHM) instruments to combination affected person info throughout a number of techniques and applied sciences. Now that we’ve got rolled out Epic, we’ve got a strong basis to assist us push the envelope of high quality affected person care and cutting-edge analysis.

The most effective minds gravitate to organizations that allow them add worth by supporting a enterprise imaginative and prescient as a substitute of fixing issues.

Our new Cisco infrastructure is a priceless retention and recruitment device. Clinicians and researchers additionally need to work in high-tech environments. They would favor user-friendly techniques over scuffling with digital varieties, drowning in infinite 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’ll give attention to their sufferers and analysis.

OU Well being is on a mission to raise and remodel 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 one of the best medical care to the populations we serve.


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