SAN FRANCISCO — March 28, 2012 — Michael Allison, IT administrator for the Hillcrest Family Health Clinics network in Central Texas, could see the future coming. The clinic network’s IT systems were already processing half a million transactions per day for 200,000 patients across several facilities and towns. Federal privacy regulations, the ongoing push for providers to create uniform electronic health records and the increasing volume of patient data meant demands on the system would only intensify.
“In a clinical setting with hundreds of PCs and devices, hundreds of thousands of patient records, and dozens of providers, efficiently managing this much data is critical,” Allison says.
Allison was convinced the clinic’s technology should not just upgrade but evolve to become a true intelligent system, connecting locations and devices in the cloud to improve the ease and efficiency of care. After evaluating several solutions, he chose to build an intelligent system with Microsoft. Centralized data stores were consolidated on two machines running Windows Server Hyper-V, and clinics were outfitted with Windows Embedded Standard-based thin clients.
The new system has paid off for Hillcrest, eliminating mandatory downtime for system upgrades and significantly reducing unplanned downtime, reducing data traffic from 8 percent of the clinic network’s bandwidth to 1 percent, and enabling broadband cost savings of 35 percent per year. Hundreds of peripheral devices used across a wide geographic area can now be managed remotely via the cloud. The system manages data across the clinic system — patient records, prescriptions, scheduling, billing, inventory and more. Allison can now access, manage and update devices from any location, without having to travel to distant sites.
“I can sit at my desk and run our whole system from my office without having to physically go to any one of our nine locations and do anything to the computers there,” Allison says. “Everything worked as soon as we put it in; it all just worked seamlessly.”
The system offers physicians and caregivers remote connectivity and quick access to current data within a security-enhanced framework. Hillcrest was able to recoup its investment within three years, and, best of all, it has been able to care for more than 1,500 additional patients per year.
“We’ve been able to refocus available funds onto new services for our patients,” Allison says. “Our intelligent system strategy is an important part of our mission to provide the right care to the right patient, securely, consistently and efficiently.”