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Bringing Home More Efficient Healthcare


Memorial Hermann Healthcare System expands services and boosts productivity with Symantec products.}
How do you expand healthcare yet contain costs? This question has been front and center in our current national debate on healthcare reform. Memorial Hermann, a large, innovative healthcare provider in Houston, Texas, has discovered that strategic IT upgrades enabled them to provide more services while increasing productivity. The result? Better healthcare without increasing labor or productivity costs.
Founded one hundred years ago, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System serves the greater Houston community with 11 hospitals, numerous clinics, and multiple diagnostic and imaging centers. The 475-member Information System Department (ISD) services more than 1,100 servers and approximately 18,000 client devices, including PCs, laptops, and wireless PCs on wheels for its 20,000 employees. These client devices have grown annually by 15 percent for the last six years. Its widely distributed network requires rapid and secure access to IT resources to provide the best in patient care, and the organization’s expansion into home-based healthcare presented further challenges to security, backup, and management efficiencies.

Key Challenges to Efficiency

The ISD group made a strategic decision in 2001 to invest in IT to position Memorial Hermann as an innovator in the healthcare industry. The group felt that an upgraded IT system would give it an edge in delivering the most efficient, effective healthcare for more patients. At the same time, ISD felt an improved system should better support the clinical decision process, improve hospital business management, enhance its data protection, and, to economically meet all these diverse needs, increase the overall productivity of the ISD staff.
To reach these goals over a seven-year period, Memorial Hermann called on Symantec Consulting Services to help ISD formulate a plan and implement its strategy. Additionally, ISD relied on Symantec Education Services as Symantec software products came on line in the IT department.

Standardizing Backup Procedures

One of the prime areas for IT innovation and improvement at Memorial Hermann was backup and recovery. Early on, ISD struggled with multiple vendor platforms to maintain a cohesive backup strategy. Standardization on Veritas NetBackup delivered reliable, heterogeneous backup to provide protection for over 1,100 heterogeneous Memorial Hermann servers with a 99 percent backup success rate. “One of the complexities of our environment is dealing with data integrity. How do we take the data that Memorial Hermann generates, back it up, and then restore it in case we need it in case of an emergency? We use Veritas NetBackup to back up data across different server platforms, from IBM AIX- to Microsoft Windows- to Linux-based servers, and bring them under one management console,” says Marc Packard, director of network solutions at Memorial Hermann.

Corralling Client Management

With an annual growth rate of more than 15 percent for endpoint PCs and devices, ISD needed secure and efficient management of these burgeoning IT resources. In consultation with Symantec, ISD deployed Altiris Client Management Suite for desktop provisioning, application metering and deployment, inventory management, and patch management. According to Lee Hartley, manager of the client management team at Memorial Hermann, “Altiris Client Management Suite has evolved for us. We started out using the basic components for patch management and provisioning and have evolved to using more in-depth reporting functions and some of the other toolsets like application metering.”

Mail Management and Security

To better manage spam and security for its 20,000+ email accounts, ISD tested Symantec Brightmail Gateway in 2005 and found that it outperformed all its competitors. Today, Brightmail is blocking the vast majority of spam from entering its network and providing a much higher level of security from outside threats as a result. “Our Brightmail Gateway product effectively filters out the 60 to 90 percent of [the 12 million external pieces of email received monthly] which are spam. It means we’re not storing it on our servers, and our users don’t lose productivity deleting it or having it clutter up their work day work processes,” notes David Bradshaw, chief information, planning, and marketing officer for Memorial Hermann.

Business Value Analysis Details Productivity Enhancements

In a Business Value Analysis conducted by the The Alchemy Solutions Group, Memorial Hermann was able to document tens of millions of dollars in productivity gains and cost avoidance with the help of Symantec products. The projected business value Memorial Hermann has achieved from January 2001 through December 2009 includes the following:
  • Spam Filtering Labor Productivity Gains: $31.6 million in IT and employee labor pro¬ductivity gains from August 2006 through December 2009 by deploying Symantec Brightmail Gateway.
  • Backup Labor Productivity Gains and Cost Avoidance: $1,765,886 in ISD labor cost avoidance and productivity gains from January 2001 through December 2009 by consolidat¬ing backup-and-recovery operations onto Veritas NetBackup.
  • Client Endpoint Management Productivity Gains: $648,036 in realized and projected productivity gains through the use of Altiris Client Management Suite to image and reimage client workstations and produce reports from August 2004 through December 2009.
  • Client and Server Patch Management Labor Productivity Gains: $287,675 in total labor productivity gains from August 2004 through December 2009 through improved patch management using Altiris Client Management Suite and Altiris Server Management Suite.
  • Server Provisioning and Reimaging Labor Productivity Gains: $161,255 in ISD labor productivity gains through faster reimaging of servers and provisioning of new servers using Altiris Server Management Suite from August 2004 through December 2009.
  • Storage Space Cost Avoidance: $74,311 in storage cost avoidance by eliminating spam emails before they enter the environment from August 2006 through December 2009.
To read the entire Memorial Hermann Healthcare System Business Value Analysis, click here.

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