Building an Internal Cloud

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 2009-06-08 Print this article Print

A big medical center builds its own cloud to manage electronic health records.

The solution was designed by Beth Israel Deaconess and Concordant, a provider of consulting and managed services for the health-care industry. The medical center also engaged VMware partner Third Brigade to help provide the security needed to protect the sensitive electronic records.

Because records are now available to practices via SaaS, participating physicians aren’t required to deploy any hardware in their practices, and Beth Israel Deaconess doesn’t have to provide physicians with constant on-site technical support, Gillis says.

The medical center quickly got a sense of the value of the SaaS solution, Gillis says. A specification was changed unexpectedly and he estimates it would have cost $300,000 to make the needed adjustments in a traditional hardware-based environment. With the virtualized environment, the cost was only $20,000, representing a savings of 93%.

Server virtualization is expected to generate ongoing operational savings for BIDPO. Concordant has found that virtualized solutions can reduce total cost of ownership for practice management and EHR systems by 40%.

“The big benefit is it allows us to provide an EHR to a small physician practice at an affordable cost,” Gillis says. “EHRs are complex systems with network, hardware and software components. They include interfaces to clinical results delivery systems such as lab and radiology. Implementing and maintaining these systems are costs most practices don't fully understand nor have qualified staffing to deliver.”

A SaaS model allows the medical center to provide all the resources practices need to access records. “This allows the physicians to use the EHR to its full potential with no real worries about the backend details,” Gillis says. “For the patient, it provides the foundation for true clinical integration at a cost their physicians can truly afford.”

 Beth Israel Deaconess sees potential in other types of virtualization implementations. “In the current budgeted phases of the project, we are only implementing server virtualization. Desktop virtualization does hold some promise for future phases of the project,” Gillis says. “Right now though, we are concentrating on delivering the EHR to the enrolled practices to meet our clinical integration project timelines.”


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