By Dave Pecoraro, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, SCL Health
As a $2.5 billion nonprofit healthcare network with 11 hospitals, 210 physician clinics, and home and hospice services throughout Colorado, Kansas and Montana, SCL Health supports more than 20,000 associates, physicians, clinical staff, students, contractors and consultants. This means that at any given moment, there are thousands of people who depend on the SCL Health IT network to access patient records, care for patients using an electronic medical record, and schedule and coordinate appointments. Since 2005, SCL Health has been in a strategic partnership with Citrix to facilitate and streamline its IT processes by simplifying how associates access data and systems so they can ultimately focus more time on patients.
SCL Health’s IT Challenge
Simplification is the driving factor for us. Associates come to work expecting our technology to operate seamlessly and reliably. It’s our job to find the best technology to make that continuity possible. We want to give them the experience they expect – the ability to create personalized access to the applications they need to do their job. Citrix gives us the ability to provide an app store where they can download the applications and easily personalize them to their unique responsibilities. It sounds easy to a consumer, but in the healthcare world, this has not yet become the norm. We are continuously working to improve technology mobility and accessibility for our associates.
To create this change, our IT department worked closely with doctors and nurses to customize an IT environment that would allow them to focus on providing high quality patient care. We learned that log on times, searching for application icons, and multiple authentications consumed precious time and greatly dissatisfied our staff. So, we went in search of technology to address this issue. After reviewing numerous products, we ultimately decided on the Citrix Workspace Suite, a virtual workspace that created a self-service and virtual environment.
Less Time Spent On Administrative Tasks Means More Time With Patients
Providers in our clinics typically see 20 to 25 patients each day, and appointments that once lasted 20 to 25 minutes are now limited to 15 minutes because of the extensive administrative tasks that clinicians must complete. Providers want to spend their time on patient care; not complex or confusing technology. Anything we can do to make their work processes and productivity more efficient through technology is meaningful. We’ve achieved this with our storefront based on Citrix technology, which provides easy access to clinical applications based on the clinician’s role. This includes access to up to 25 unique medical applications that allow doctors to view everything from prescriptions and medication history, patient histories and charts, and medical images, all in advance of an appointment. Those five to 10 minutes once occupied by administrative work can now be spent with the patient better understanding their lifestyle and ongoing healthcare needs.
Addressing The Healthcare Industry’s Security Concerns
An ever-growing concern that faces the healthcare industry is the risk of cyber security on our IT systems and technologies. More and more technology in the healthcare environment demands state-of-the-art knowledge and best practices of cyber security along with new partnerships with government agencies (Homeland Security, FBI, and Secret Service). This added challenge is relatively new to the healthcare industry. Cyber security threats are constantly evolving and must be an integral priority of a company’s overall IT strategy. It would be impossible to achieve that level of security on our own, which is why strategic alliances with companies like Citrix, Cisco, Imprivata, etc. are essential to us at SCL Health.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was a huge concern due to the numerous security threats that the healthcare industry faces, and user demand for personal devices and mobility. However, with Citrix and mobile device management, our associates can now reap the benefits of BYOD – be it a smart phone, tablet, etc. – without compromising the privacy of patients. This is because the solution helped us to strengthen our security posture and remain compliant with HIPAA and governmental privacy standards.
In the end, our IT transformation has been a success and the journey continues. In the next several years of technology strategies, the Cloud, Data as a Service, and Software as a Service will be the path toward continued simplification and ubiquitous access of technology for our clinical and administrative associates. Simplifying technology for clinicians and staff allows everyone to get back to the heart of why they entered the healthcare field – to address the health concerns and needs of our patients and their families.