Stat Health Services helps cut healthcare costs by connecting doctors with patients for the treatment of minor medical conditions through the Stat Doctors online service. Stat Health chose to rebuild Stat Doctors in the cloud using Windows Azure from Microsoft. As a result, it has reduced its costs, helped employers and insurers lower the cost of healthcare, and improved the quality of patient service through better scalability and reliability. Business Needs
As an emergency room doctor and administrator, Alan Roga saw tremendous potential for using technology to cut healthcare costs for insurers, employers, and patients, while improving patient care. To realize this vision, he founded Stat Health Services in 2009, and the company launched the Stat Doctors e-health service in 2010. Stat Health is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and it currently has 12 employees and 800 doctors in its network.
“We offer virtual house calls for minor medical conditions by linking patients with board-certified emergency room physicians through audio and video conferencing 24 hours a day from anywhere,” explains Roga, who is now Chief Executive Officer at Stat Health Services. “Patients see a doctor quickly and easily at a fraction of the cost and time of an emergency room or urgent care center visit, and our business customers can substantially reduce healthcare costs by offering Stat Doctors as a supplement to their benefits package.”
Stat Health built the first version of the Stat Doctors website in 2010. The offering was based on physical servers, and after only six months or so, Stat Health realized the system would not be able to scale with the company’s expanding needs.
“When we planned the first system, we considered the cloud, but it was still unfamiliar technology for us,” says Roga. “But then our server-based system had outages that delayed patient care, and it couldn't easily scale to meet growing demand without a large investment in infrastructure. So we began looking for a cloud-based solution and a technology partner who could help implement our vision.” Solution
Stat Health engaged the services of Wayne, Pennsylvania-based IT firm Business & Decision, a Microsoft Partner Network member with Gold competencies, and the two companies evaluated the Amazon EC2 cloud offering, traditional hosting providers, and Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. After careful analysis, the team concluded that Windows Azure would provide easier system management, and both companies saw Microsoft as a trustworthy partner whose technological vision aligned with the business needs of Stat Health.
|Our vision is to be the national leader in patient-centered e-healthcare.… Using Windows Azure as our delivery system provides us with a level of trust and reliability that makes this possible.|
| Alan Roga|
MD, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Stat Health Services
Business & Decision began developing the new version of Stat Doctors’ technology in August 2011, and the service saw its first patient on the new platform in March 2012. “This was our first cloud project, and Windows Azure provided a robust and straightforward development experience,” says Jayson Stangel, Vice President for North America at Business & Decision. “It offers the scalability and uptime we were looking for, and it enabled us to eliminate expensive third-party resources from the original system, such as Cisco WebEx video conferencing that cost $3,000 per month.”
A key to the solution's success has been to help ensure, from the early planning stages, that Stat Doctors complies with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines concerning the privacy and security of patients' medical data. Windows Azure offers a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for its Core Services to help customers comply with HIPAA and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The Stat Doctors system was certified as HIPAA-compliant by an independent audit in April 2012.
The success of the solution has led Stat Health to choose other cloud-based products from Microsoft. “Our experience with Windows Azure has been exceptional, so we decided to move our email and collaboration systems to Microsoft Office 365, and our customer management system to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online,” says Roga. “So not only is our product in the cloud, but our enterprise applications are as well.” Benefits
By building Stat Doctors in the Windows Azure environment, Stat Health Services has saved money on service delivery and enabled its business customers and patients to save money on healthcare. The company has also improved system scalability and reliability, which have improved the quality of patient care.
Moving to Windows Azure helped Stat Health avoid a US$170,000 initial investment in hardware and software, in addition to saving the company $3,000 per month in video conferencing fees. The company has also enabled significant healthcare savings for its business customers. One customer, Scottsdale Healthcare, calculated that Stat Doctors saved it nearly $115,000 in healthcare costs in 2011—its first year utilizing the service—and the savings continue to grow.
Stat Health and Business & Decision have found that Windows Azure has easily met the companies' expectations for ease of scalability. “We don't have to worry about adding and managing physical servers to meet changes in demand,” says Roga. “It all happens seamlessly from our perspective. We have grown quickly and recently brought on 4,000 new companies that were added to the system in two days without any problems.”
Performance and Reliability for Better Patient Care
With its Windows Azure–based solution, Stat Health can now offer its users a service with exceptional availability and uptime. “Our initial promise was to ensure that all patients would be seen within 30 minutes,” says Roga. “Thus far, our average time has been only eight minutes from the time a patient logs on to the time they see a doctor, and we have had no service outages. As a result, our surveys show 98 percent patient satisfaction. Our vision is to be the national leader in patient-centered e-healthcare, and our primary goal is to amaze our patients. We want them to say ‘I can't believe how great this was, and I can't wait to use it again.’ Using Windows Azure as our delivery system provides us with a level of trust and reliability that makes this possible.”
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