Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center is an acute care hospital located in Hartford, Connecticut. Since its founding by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambéry in 1897, Saint Francis has grown into New England's largest Catholic hospital, with 617 beds and major clinical concentrations in oncology, cardiology, orthopedics, rehabilitation, and women and infants services.
Saint Francis Hospital has a longstanding reputation as an innovator in the healthcare industry. The hospital first deployed a computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system more than 20 years ago, long before patient management software became commonplace in American healthcare. In recent years, however, IT leaders at the hospital have recognized a growing need to streamline the organization's 34 legacy applications into a unified electronic medical record (EMR) platform—an especially important consideration when more than half of the hospital's physicians work in independent offices.
After looking at a wide range of options from vendors all over the world, Saint Francis partnered with Wisconsin-based Epic Systems to implement EpicCare, a single EMR system that integrates patient records, scheduling, billing, pharmacy, radiology and other information sources for faster, easier treatment and care across multiple touch points. Still, a major question remained: How would Saint Francis deliver its next-generation EpicCare system to more than 3 000 workstations throughout the hospital? Could it embrace clinicians' demands for mobile capabilities and remain cutting-edge without creating more risk?
Saint Francis had been using Citrix technology for years, particularly Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp for on-demand application delivery to both physical and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)-based desktops. Citrix NetScaler enabled secure remote access for clinicians working offsite. Even so, would Citrix solutions be the right fit for the hospital's new EpicCare deployment? "We had already invested a great deal in our Citrix environment," says Linda Shanley, vice president and chief technology officer at Saint Francis Hospital. "We had looked at competitive solutions in the past, but the last thing we wanted was to switch virtualization platforms in the middle of an EMR upgrade. And after working with Citrix for so long, we had a lot of confidence in the product and the team supporting it."
As Saint Francis prepared to deploy the EpicCare system, a security audit showed a serious gap in the hospital's approach to mobile devices. The IT team recognized how important it is to empower clinicians with device choice, especially to stay competitive as a teaching hospital with many residents from top medical schools. So the IT team needed to move from a low-level mobile device management (MDM) solution to an advanced mobility platform. After assessing a number of options, they settled on Zenprise technology as the right choice—just as Citrix announced its acquisition of Zenprise technology as part of a new Citrix XenMobile offering. "The whole thing worked out perfectly," says Paul Dzierwinski, manager of systems administration at Saint Francis. "When XenMobile arrived on the scene, we were able to get all the features we wanted, along with a simple licensing package from a vendor we already trusted."
When the time came to deploy the hospital's new EpicCare system, everything was in place for a smooth rollout. After 18 months of preparation, the $120 million EMR upgrade transferred 1,3 million patients' medical records to a single, integrated system, successfully completing one of the most ambitious projects in the hospital's long history.
In the weeks leading up to the enterprise-wide launch of EpicCare, Saint Francis underwent a "technical dress rehearsal" to ensure that every workstation and transmission process would run as planned. "The folks at Epic wanted clear evidence that our entire environment was ready for prime time," says Damien McKinney, senior systems engineer at Saint Francis. "If we had chosen less solid solutions for application virtualization, VDI and enterprise mobility management, there's a very good chance that our go-live date would have slipped. And we simply couldn't afford to let that happen."
With a streamlined EMR system in place, Saint Francis can facilitate the flow of patient information across the hospital and beyond. "Our healthcare providers can send and receive patient information through an information exchange that's linked to other hospitals, doctors and healthcare entities, all on a real-time basis," says Shanley. "Patients no longer need to repeat information as they go from one caregiver to the next. This helps us accelerate delivery of care while minimizing errors in transmission. And we can make all of that information available to caregivers on whatever device they require."
For the IT team at Saint Francis, a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative has always been part of the plan to ensure the hospital is in step with emerging trends. "The simple fact is that everything's going mobile," says Shanley. "With our current environment, we can deliver our EMR system, dictation software, imaging viewers and more to thousands of clinicians and staff wherever they are. We can remotely wipe mobile devices if they're lost or stolen. Et ce qu’il y a de mieux, c’est que le tout est complètement transparent pour nos utilisateurs. Most of them don't know how it happens—they just know that it works."
For Shanley and her team, the next stage in the hospital's evolution is to move toward one-click enterprise mobility. "We've streamlined our EMR solution," she says. "Now I'd like to make things even simpler and more user friendly by making every aspect of our application ecosystem available to every end user, through a single interface. That would truly be bringing our environment to the next level." With the technology foundation already in place to enable this degree of seamless mobility for clinicians and staff, Saint Francis will maintain its longstanding reputation for innovation.