Sponsored: Improving user satisfaction, app response time
Within a span of 10 years, PruittHealth, a regional leader in long-term healthcare in Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida, doubled its size. The Norcross, Ga.-based healthcare system now comprises more than 90 post-acute, skilled nursing and assisting living locations, and includes multiple supplementary resources such as home care, hospice, veteran care, physical therapy and pharmaceutical services.
One might expect the IT department to be mired in complexity, given the nearly 15,000 employees and the approximately 25,000 patients seen each day. When the health system was smaller, it relied on point solutions for such things as load balancing, web application firewalls and SSL services. In addition, PruittHealth had 140 remote sites that connected back over low-bandwidth MPLS. “Disparate point solutions worked great for IT at that time, but then devices and network traffic exploded. Because of that, we had to revise our strategy,” said Richard Bailey, Vice President of IT operations.
Acquisitions, more hires and the increased use of video training for continuing education of PruittHealth’s nurses all contributed to more overall network utilization, which slowed down application response time, according to Bailey. “We had to do something differently,” he asserted.
After conducting due diligence, Bailey and his team evaluated a number of solutions to solve their issues. Ultimately, PruittHealth turned to Citrix for application delivery. The healthcare system also replaced all their point networking solutions with Citrix NetScaler in order to accelerate delivery of applications, secure them and provider greater network visibility. Everything was managed through a single web interface.
In addition to addressing network utilization, Bailey and his team were tasked with securely deploying some 200 applications to multiple remote facilities. “We had to find a way to optimize traffic for increased bandwidth,” he said. With NetScaler SD-WAN, Bailey’s IT department could better optimize network traffic. “We were able to save cost on bandwidth and achieve better performance than we would otherwise have gotten,” he explained. With the new solutions in place, Bailey reported that his IT department was able to reduce network utilization by more than 60 percent.
Continuing the analysis, PruittHealth conducted a per-site cost comparison and found a much faster payback and higher ROI versus the alternative solution of upgrading the bandwidth or the MPLS, according to Bailey. Now the new platform is deployed in 62 locations, and is projected to save the healthcare system more than $2.6 million. Bailey added, “That doesn’t even include the value of the productivity gains that we had.”
Bailey noted that acquisitions can take weeks. But it could take months to get the new facilities up to speed with applications. With the new solutions in place, however, he said, “We’re able to respond really quickly from an IT perspective just by adding users and expanding the server for them.” Ultimately, Bailey pointed out, “Our company is able to be a lot more agile and respond to our changing business environment.” And with the growth of the post-acute market, speed and agility are necessary components for success.