Devereux Shifts to Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring
The Behavioral Healthcare Provider Improved Its Workflow By Monitoring Its Electronic Health Record System.
- Improve performance of a new electronic health record system
- Minimize firefighting and help desk issues.
- Better understand bandwidth consumption and data center congestion.
- Proactively detects approximately 40 percent of issues before significant impact.
- Provides fast reporting and improved insight.
- Avoided an investment in additional staff to manage the monitoring platform.
In its commitment to provide behavioral healthcare to some of the nation’s most vulnerable individuals, Devereux implemented new incident tracking and electronic health record systems to better orchestrate everyday processes for doctors, educators, and other providers responsible for the treatment programs Devereux delivers.
After fielding concerns about the application’s performance, the IT department conducted an infrastructure assessment, which pointed to four key areas for improvement:
- Performance monitoring
- Data center congestion
- Equipment lifecycle management
- Bandwidth optimization
The majority of Devereux’s business applications – including their new electronic health record (EHR) – run from their datacenter in King of Prussia, PA, and are accessed over an MPLS network.
Devereux’s EHR and incident tracking systems are critical to business operations and mission. It’s how contracted managed care and Medicaid entities interact with Devereux for billing and payment. It’s where health records are securely stored and accessed. It’s how doctors and nurses, educational staff, caregivers and contractors share reports and notes.
“Communication among those involved in the care of our individuals is essential for positive treatment outcomes,” said Tom Shurer, Vice President Information Resources. “We’re accountable for the well-being of each person and their family. We need to exceed expectations and avoid risk.”
Prior to deploying SevOne and in response to user dissatisfaction with the performance of the new EHR system, Devereux contracted a third party, who conducted an infrastructure assessment. Devereux also initiated a review of four performance-monitoring solutions, including their incumbent.
Shurer and two members of his team – DiSarro, Information Systems Manager, and David Sutton, Systems Engineer – said they needed a monitoring solution that would help them be more proactive in detecting system performance issues.
“In fall of 2014, we faced an incredibly challenging issue with our systems,” said DiSarro. “One of our SAN volumes ran out of space due to anomalous database growth, resulting in three hours of down time.”
The team also struggled with generating effective network performance reports, which caused frequent challenges during the transition to the new EHR system.
“We had difficulty proactively monitoring our critical IT systems,” Shurer said. “We needed to find a monitoring solution that would be an integral part of our daily IT workflow, helping us identify and address issues before they became problems.”
SevOne was chosen as Devereux’s long-term digital infrastructure management solution based on its ability to monitor all types of infrastructure in real-time with highly granular visibility, and the scale to collect time series data with automatic baselining, thresholding and alerting capabilities.
SevOne has equipped Devereux – which is 90 percent virtualized and runs 800 VMs on 50 VMware hosts – with the confidence and tools to proactively address performance issues.
“When planning architectural changes to our IT systems, we now have the ability to go back and consider history. We can use SevOne reports to do a before and after comparison, so we can say, with certainty, that those changes had an impact,” Shurer said.
Staff were also pleased with the thoroughness of the SevOne trial. During the infrastructure audit, multiple vendors provided Devereux with a proof of concept, but only SevOne offered Devereux the ability to monitor all their devices during the trial.
“SevOne came in and set up everything and we had 30 days to try it out. With about a week left of the trial, we asked for another 30 days and they approved. By the time we decided on SevOne, it was functional and already contributing to our process,” Shurer said.
Devereux now monitors about 18,000 objects, including Citrix and remote desktop services. “A month with SevOne and we were hooked,” said Anthony DiSarro. “SevOne is far more intuitive than our previous solution.”
Business Results and Benefits
Previously, when one of their SAN volumes ran out of space, Devereux faced a three-hour system disruption. After implementing SevOne, DiSarro built a SAN report to show the prior week’s activity. DiSarro noticed an anomaly – one line on a graph that was clearly trending up. Yet again, a SAN volume was quickly filling to capacity.
“This time, with SevOne in place, we detected the SAN issue three hours in advance instead of having a three-hour disruption,” DiSarro said.
When SevOne was first installed, the team noticed – through discards and errors on a port – that the backup server was using the default Windows driver rather than the driver they had concluded was optimal for their configuration. This was causing backup cycles to take longer than expected.
“Add all those little things together and it costs money and time,” DiSarro said. “With SevOne, we estimate we’re catching 40 percent of the issues before significant end user impact. Prior to SevOne, that percent was almost zero.”
Devereux’s IT team has also enjoyed the ease of generating reports and graphs. Sutton, for example, has built reports to troubleshoot specific issues. “I pick an object, pick an indicator, hit detach, and in no time I can have a report with half a dozen or more graphs,” he said. “I’ve never worked with a solution where you can build meaningful reports so fast.”
“We use reports to help us decide what alerts would be useful. We have regular alert summary meetings to work together to spot patterns and fine-tune our alerts,” Sutton said.
With SevOne deployed, the number of preventable incidents is down. The team now utilizes much richer and more accurate baseline data, which better informs their decisions.
“Previously, a lot of time was spent trying to figure out what went wrong. Opportunity was lost because our energy was used discovering underlying causes,” Shurer said. “Now, we have a lot more insight.”
These positive results from the SevOne solution are just the beginning for Devereux.
With less time needed to fight fires, the IT team – which includes 33 employees at HQ and 22 local administrators spread out nationwide – can rededicate themselves to innovation and proactive monitoring. Shurer hopes to achieve two goals in particular: enhance security and make a thoughtful and calculated move to the cloud.
“Security is a major issue for healthcare providers,” said Shurer. “SevOne allows us to focus more proactively on security since we don’t spend as much time troubleshooting performance issues.”
Another objective for the team is integration of SevOne alerts with their help desk ticketing system. Once the alert review and fine-tuning process is complete, the goal is to use the ticketing system to track network performance issues to resolution.
The Devereux team has been impressed with SevOne’s intuitive nature and says it can easily incorporate the services into their own workflow. “I wish every company operated the way SevOne does,” DiSarro said. “They made implementation so much easier.”
“It’s now much easier to extend the solution on our own,” Shurer added. “In fact our existing FTEs now have more time to innovate.”
Sutton concluded, “From the initial engagement with SevOne, and our ongoing relationship, we’re confident that if we have an issue, it will be resolved.”
Devereux is one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit behavioral healthcare providers, serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges. Founded in Philadelphia 1912, the organization now operates a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational, and employment programs and services that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of children, adults and their families every year. Devereux also provides public education and prevention initiatives that promote the good social and emotional health of all children.