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Posted: 7/27/2011
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HealthCare Partners Healthcare Provider Improves IT Monitoring Capabilities by Learning from Experts

HealthCare Partners, a managed-care provider, wanted to improve its IT system-monitoring capabilities for greater uptime. The company attended an engagement at a Microsoft Technology Center to learn the best way to build dashboards for monitoring system health by using Microsoft System Center products. As a result, HealthCare Partners gained deeper technical understanding, fostered greater confidence in dashboard use, and accelerated its project.

Business Needs
HealthCare Partners helps patients live life to the fullest by providing them with outstanding, affordable healthcare. The company operates in more than 60 clinics and 8 urgent-care centers in southern California. Providing its physicians in all those locations with necessary technology tools, from cutting-edge medical equipment to desktop computers, requires a significant effort.

The company acquired an assortment of IT monitoring tools and solutions, but it lacked a single view of the overall health of its IT systems. “Individual IT staff members used whatever tool was most familiar to them, not what would provide the most accurate information,” says Troy Veilleux, Administrative Director of Technical Services at HealthCare Partners. “Three employees might use three different monitoring tools and diagnose slightly different versions of the same problem, which slowed time to resolution.”

The company sought to improve its monitoring and reporting capabilities to increase system uptime throughout its many locations. “We acquired Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, but there was a degree of skepticism among our IT staff that those products could fit our needs,” says Veilleux. “We lacked understanding of what we could do with them and how best to use them.” Specifically, HealthCare Partners wanted to know if IT staff could use the products to fulfill the company’s pressing need for system-monitoring dashboards.

For answers to its questions, HealthCare Partners attended an Architecture Design Session (ADS) at the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Irvine, California. “We had been to the MTC before, and it’s the perfect place to get a lot accomplished, so we were happy to get to go back,” says Veilleux.

* The time that I spent at the MTC was a valuable investment in both myself and my company because it fostered a strategic outlook that helps us with future planning as well as immediate needs. *

Troy Veilleux
Administrative Director of Technical Services, HealthCare Partners

Eight members of the HealthCare Partners IT staff took part in the one-day engagement in February 2011. The team worked with an MTC architect to define the company’s dashboard project goals and determine the best ways to achieve them. “We needed to create a summary dashboard for senior-level management and one with more access to details for technical staff,” says Veilleux. “Our MTC architect laid out all that we could cover and then helped focus the discussion on what would be most valuable to us.”

HealthCare Partners appreciated the flexibility and care that the MTC architect showed throughout the ADS. “He walked us through multiple pertinent examples and then gave us step-by-step guidance on how to develop our own dashboards,” recalls Veilleux. “When we asked about taking a certain development path, he explained what was possible but then showed us what would be optimal in our particular scenario, which was extremely helpful.”

Team members were surprised by some of what they saw at the MTC, particularly with regard to how easy it was to deploy the System Center Operations Manager 2007 operations console. “I’m not a hands-on technical manager, so it says a lot that I was able to come back from the MTC and successfully load and use the console on my desktop within an hour,” says Veilleux. “That’s just one example of how we absolutely learned what we needed to learn at the MTC to fast-track our project.”

Following the MTC engagement, HealthCare Partners quickly built a test environment in which to explore various dashboard views. The company plans to move its first dashboard—a summary view of its electronic medical record system for senior-level management—into production by July 2011.

HealthCare Partners can be more successful in its overall IT system management efforts thanks to the knowledge that it acquired at the MTC. “As a senior director, my charge is to be more strategic and less operational, but I don’t get the chance to do that enough,” says Veilleux. “The time that I spent at the MTC was a valuable investment in both myself and my company because it fostered a strategic outlook that helps us with future planning as well as immediate needs.”

Benefits for the company from visiting the MTC include:

Improved technical capabilities for a smoother deployment. HealthCare Partners gained a better technology understanding at the MTC. “Our MTC architect was extremely knowledgeable, and he brought his real-world experience to bear on our project,” says Veilleux. “The information that he shared with us made it possible for us to streamline our dashboard development, such as minimizing false positives by taking into consideration the warnings and thresholds that we learned about at the MTC.”

Coalescence of ideas. The company credits the MTC experience with helping unite team members. “Prior to the ADS, multiple IT staff members had campaigned against using System Center products. By noon on that day, however, everyone had obvious interest in learning more,” says Veilleux. “Plus, seeing what’s possible and sharing ideas in a strategic setting gave us all the same vocabulary for talking about what we are doing and what we would like to do with regard to system monitoring.”

Ability to focus. HealthCare Partners enjoyed the freedom to concentrate on proactive technology solutions while at the MTC. “The MTC provided us with the wonderful opportunity to be strategic-thinking people for a day, away from the distractions of the office and the everyday interruptions that we normally experience,” says Veilleux.

Access to other technologies. While at the MTC, HealthCare Partners saw MTC architects using Microsoft video-conferencing technology, sparking the company’s interest in and adoption of Microsoft Lync Server 2010 for unified communications capabilities. “Our time at the MTC led us to think about other solutions that we could use to further our business goals of helping our physicians work more effectively while conserving costs,” says Veilleux.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 6000 employees

Organization Profile

Torrance, California–based HealthCare Partners delivers medical care to more than 575,000 managed-care patients, improving their quality of life while containing costs.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007
  • Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007
  • Microsoft Technology Center

Vertical Industries
Health Provider

United States