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Posted: 3/6/2014
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UMC Health System Hospital Streamlines Operations, Conserves Costs Through Unified IT Management Tools

UMC Health System needed to manage a growing technology footprint while fostering a flexible datacenter structure. UMC adopted Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 and Cireson SCSM Total Management Suite, and it intends to move from VMware to Hyper-V technology for virtualization and to adopt private and hybrid cloud infrastructures. These initiatives will help UMC save costs, increase IT efficiency, and support better patient care.

Business Needs
UMC Health System aims to serve its community by providing high-quality, comprehensive healthcare while training tomorrow’s healthcare professionals in conjunction with Texas Tech University. The system operates out of a hospital facility and more than 30 remote clinics.

Like many healthcare organizations, UMC faces growing regulatory pressure to automate and track medical records electronically. “Our technology footprint is definitely expanding as we comply with regulations and also bring technology to the bedside for more accurate patient care,” says Chris Akeroyd, Director of IT Infrastructure at UMC Health System. “As a result, we have more systems to manage but the same number of IT staff members to keep them all up and running properly.”

Managing and monitoring its systems was a difficult, time-consuming task. UMC had tools from a range of vendors to support its environment. To improve both its own efficiency and that of UMC caregivers, the IT staff needed tools that could be used to automate workflows and avoid duplication of effort. “Our workflow processes were somewhat disjointed because we had to use so many separate technologies,” says Akeroyd. “We wanted integrated management tools that would bring together every facet of our environment.”

In addition, UMC wanted to make strides toward a more flexible Windows Server operating system environment by making use of a private cloud along with its virtualized machines, which ran on VMware hypervisors. “We set a goal of being able to seamlessly move a workload or server between datacenters and to look for ways to cost-effectively extend our virtualized environment,” says Akeroyd.

UMC Health System adopted Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 to provide the unified tools that it sought for more comprehensive, effective IT management. “We looked at several point solutions, but the lack of integration in those products was problematic,” says Akeroyd. “We felt as though System Center 2012 R2 fulfilled the promise of a single suite of management products, especially with the addition of its Orchestrator component for workflow management in the datacenter.”

* If we did not have integrated management tools through System Center, I would have to hire additional staff—up to seven more people—to handle our considerable infrastructure expansion. *

Chris Akeroyd
Director of IT Infrastructure, UMC Health System

UMC also adopted the SCSM Total Management Suite from Cireson, which extends System Center 2012 R2 Service Manager capabilities with features such as a web console for access to Service Manager from anywhere and asset management to help control IT assets throughout their life cycle. Together, Service Manager and the SCSM Total Management Suite support the health system’s IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework for service management and delivery. UMC relies on Service Manager to track the automated workflow processes related to provisioning, account changes, system reboots, regular maintenance, and other routine tasks.

The health system uses several components of System Center 2012 R2 to manage not only its Windows Server environment but also its VMware assets. “We appreciate that Virtual Machine Manager is agnostic so that we can use it to manage a hybrid virtual machine environment,” says Akeroyd.

That ability to manage multiple hypervisors is particularly important because UMC is exploring the addition of more Hyper-V technology to its environment. “We already have a virtualized Microsoft SQL Server 2012 database cluster on Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V, and we found that Hyper-V gives us easier administration, faster trouble-shooting, and fewer training requirements,” says Akeroyd.

UMC expects that its IT infrastructure will gradually include workloads hosted within a mix of public and private clouds. “We anticipate that we will move critical workloads—such as our enterprise resource planning system and some clinical applications—to private clouds for greater resiliency and uptime,” says Akeroyd. “We also will look at moving lower-tier workloads to a hybrid cloud setup by using a public cloud such as Windows Azure.”

By transforming its datacenter through the use of the latest servers and tools from Microsoft, UMC Health System is helping its IT staff members serve their internal customers better, which ultimately has a positive effect on patient care. “Anything that we can do on the IT side to ensure service consistency and system availability helps our caregivers serve our patient community better,” says Akeroyd. “Using System Center and moving toward a more flexible, resilient environment through a private cloud infrastructure help us do just that.” Benefits include:
  • Increased IT staff productivity. UMC has established a variety of workflow processes to help reduce the time that IT staff spend on administrative tasks. For example, new and reassigned employees had to wait up to two weeks for access to the appropriate systems and IT tools because IT staff had such a backlog of paperwork and manual processes. Now, having implemented Orchestrator to automate its onboarding process, UMC gives employees the access they need within 24 hours, and IT staff can turn their attention to more strategic pursuits. “We save one full-time employee’s worth of hours because of all the efficiencies that we gain by using System Center tools,” says Akeroyd.

  • Greater cost savings. UMC experienced cost reductions through its use of System Center tools and expects savings from extending its use of Hyper-V technology. “Our staffing costs are definitely lower now that so many routine IT management tasks can be handled by less-expensive technicians and System Center,” says Akeroyd. “Our annual maintenance fees would drop significantly in a shift from VMware to Hyper-V. Plus, any new virtual machines on Hyper-V would be covered under our existing Microsoft license agreement.”

    Akeroyd can also support the growing IT infrastructure without adding IT staff members. “UMC is growing by approximately 30 percent in terms of technology,” says Akeroyd. “If we did not have integrated management tools through System Center, I would have to hire additional staff—up to seven more people—to handle our considerable infrastructure expansion.”

  • Improved patient care. The role of technology in delivering care to the patient has expanded to include an increasing number of electronic workflow processes, such as medication administration, order entry, operating room documentation, and hospital discharge. The efficiencies that UMC gains in its IT department translate into enhanced patient care because it can ensure that systems are available to caregivers and other staff members. “Any time things do not go as expected, patient care can be affected,” says Akeroyd. “By using System Center tools, we can respond more quickly and effectively—and even proactively—to meet expectations of efficient, resilient systems and provide caregivers with the data that they need to serve patients, right at their fingertips.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 3200 employees

Organization Profile

Lubbock, Texas–based UMC Health System is a teaching hospital system that provides healthcare services to more than 300,000 patients each year in western Texas and eastern New Mexico.

Third Party Software
  • Cireson SCSM Total Management Suite

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

Vertical Industries
Health Provider

United States

Business Need
  • Service Delivery
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Cost Containment