Persystent helps hospitals avoid costly downtime

By Eric Wicklund
05:46 PM
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When a computer virus skirted around the anti-virus software at Community Memorial Hospital, IT personnel at the 25-bed critical access hospital in Oconto Falls, Wis., had to manually check more than 200 desktops, isolate the infected computers and rebuild them.

Little wonder, then, that hospital officials have sought out a better PC recovery program to help them transition from a paper-based system to an electronic medical record.

The program is Persystent Suite, billed by Tampa, Fla.-based Persystent Software as an important tool for healthcare providers looking to avoid expensive downtime and safeguard EMR data. And at a time when “meaningful use” of IT can help a hospital score some federal funds and improve clinical outcomes, keeping the computers up and running is a good thing.

“From a healthcare point of view, downtime could potentially mean the difference between life and death,” said Katherine Wattwood, Persystent’s vice president of development.

Launched in 2002, Persystent Software focuses on PC recovery technology, allowing healthcare providers and other clients to rebuild crashed computers, restore high-speed imaging technology and ensure up-to-date software applications. According to Wattwood and Tom Johnson, the company’s sales engineer, Persystent eliminates the “daily disasters at the desktop level” my allowing computer users to repair their own stations without calling the IT department.

“A hospital’s staff isn’t hanging around on the golf course or with the Maytag repairman. They’ve got a lot to do,” Johnson said.

Jared Alfson, information systems manager at Community Memorial Hospital, said his six-person department wasn’t looking forward to the hospital’s transition to an EMR until it contracted with Persystent this past year to safeguard the process.

In a healthcare setting, “there’s a little bit more of a sense of urgency to get a computer repaired,” he said. “Every department in a hospital has specific needs, and there are a lot of pieces that you have to have in place to make sure things work smoothly. That’s what we’re looking at in an effective 
electronic medical record.”

Among Persystent’s customers is Clin-Path Associates, a Tempe, Ariz.-based group of hospital-based pathologists offering a variety of inpatient and outpatient services. The company contracted with Persystent this fall to rebuild close to 100 HP computers in time for an expansion project.

“Persystent cut down the provisioning time from an entire day to under two hours,” said Jayson Jackson, who runs a one-person IT department at Clin-Path.

Wattwood said the company has a mix of healthcare, education and government clients, but expects more healthcare business as federal funding becomes available for healthcare providers to transition to EMRs and other IT technology. And with the move toward telehealth applications and home-based healthcare, she expects more providers will have concerns about security as they adapt mobile technology like handhelds, tablets and cellphone-based applications.

“We have got to be on top of that,” she said. “Patient service is a huge thing.”