Published on 28-May-2013
"After moving a lot of our environment onto IBM platforms, we were pleasantly surprised. The performance was just amazing—far better than we had expected." - Chad Skidmore, director, Inland Northwest Health Services
Inland Northwest Health Services
Cloud Computing, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server, Virtualization - Storage
IBM Business Partner:
Across the nation, healthcare organizations are adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems to help reign in spiraling costs and increase the quality of patient care. But just having an EHR system does not necessarily guarantee better healthcare. To help gauge EHR success, healthcare organizations must meet specific “meaningful use” criteria established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), with the help of IBM, is empowering healthcare organizations to achieve these goals.
Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) needed greater uptime and performance for its medical cloud service offerings while reducing physical space and limiting power consumption in the data center.
INHS deployed IBM® BladeCenter® H Chassis, IBM BladeCenter HX5 servers, IBM System x® 3850 and x3650 class servers, IBM Storwize® V7000 and IBM System Storage® DS8300 with IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller.
IBM increased uptime to better meet customer expectations and service level agreements. IBM doubled performance for end users of cloud service applications. And IBM reduced physical space requirements by 28 percent while increasing storage capacity.
Across the nation, healthcare organizations are adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems to help reign in spiraling costs and increase the quality of patient care. But just having an EHR system does not necessarily guarantee better healthcare.
To help gauge EHR success, healthcare organizations must meet specific “meaningful use” criteria established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), with the help of IBM, is empowering healthcare organizations to achieve these goals.
Founded in 1994, INHS is a nonprofit corporation based in Spokane, Washington that delivers cloud-based healthcare services to about 40 hospitals and 750 physicians in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Working with IBM, the organization continues to help numerous healthcare organizations achieve meaningful use of their EHRs, says Chad Skidmore, director of INHS.
“It’s really the core of what runs a hospital,” Skidmore says of the cloud services INHS offers. “We provide all of the hosting services for a core application called MEDITECH. It’s the primary health information technology system we have and it’s used for everything from admitting a patient into the hospital to placing orders for the pharmacy or the lab. It’s really the complete system for operating the hospital and collecting clinical data about patients during their stay.”
Growth spurs demand for more uptime, performance
In recent years, several factors have put pressure on the organization’s existing IT infrastructure, says Skidmore. First, the company was experiencing annual growth of about 25 percent. At the same time, INHS continually rolled out new services, increasing transaction volume. Combined, these demands were growing faster than the existing server and storage infrastructure could handle.
“We had a need for increased uptime and increased performance, particularly around storage, so we could adhere to customer expectations and contractual service level agreements,” says Skidmore. “With the products we had before, we just weren't seeing the kind of uptime we needed. We did not feel that we could have any downtime at all.”
INHS also wanted to shrink the footprint of its data center—both in terms of its physical space and power and cooling requirements—to reduce the total cost per unit of service delivered, adds Skidmore.
RX for success: A healthy dose of IBM hardware and software
Working with IBM, IBM Global Financing and IBM Business Partner Solutions II, Skidmore and his team implemented a solution that has exceeded these demands. The solution includes System x3850 and x3650 class servers as well as BladeCenter H Chassis and BladeCenter HX5 servers. On the storage side, there are three System Storage DS8300 systems and five Storwize V7000 units serving the core MEDITECH application and about 400 ancillary applications.
“After spending some time with Storwize V7000 and seeing how well it performed, we felt it was a really attractive platform for all of our mid-tier storage needs,” says Skidmore. “And the DS8300 storage systems have been stellar, a very solid workhorse for us. In five years I think we’ve had only one instance of unplanned downtime.”
Within its server infrastructure, the organization uses VMware vSphere Hypervisor for its virtualization needs. Out of approximately 1,200 servers, more than 95 percent are virtualized. Skidmore says INHS has long depended on System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software and it remains a lynchpin for most of the storage environment.
“We absolutely have to have these systems up and running 24 hours a day, so SVC is really a key tool in terms of how we do that from a storage perspective,” says Skidmore. “SVC mitigates performance issues or lack of features on older storage. So we get maybe a couple more years' use out of a particular storage frame.”
To manage the heterogeneous storage infrastructure, INHS uses IBM Tivoli® Storage Productivity Center for data reporting and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for centralized, automated data protection.
IBM solutions transform healthcare
The combined solution has enabled new levels of uptime and stability, increased business agility, faster end-user performance and greater operational efficiency—critical benefits for what Skidmore says is the largest single instance of the MEDITECH MAGIC software environment currently running in the world.
“I spend almost no time worrying about uptime and stability now,” says Skidmore. “We’ve had MEDITECH running for a little over two and a half years with no service interruptions other than prescribed software updates.”
The flexibility of the solution means Skidmore and his team can rapidly respond to changing business demands because new storage can be added with no downtime, resulting in no loss of service to INHS customers. At the same time, the amount of capacity in the data center has increased while floor space has been reduced by 28 percent and overall power consumption has held steady. And for end users at the organizations served by INHS, performance is two times faster and far more reliable. “The performance was just amazing,” says Skidmore. “It was far better than we had expected.”
Solutions built on trusted relationships
Another part of this success is the longtime relationship between INHS, IBM and Solutions II. “When we have any sort of support issue, the type of service we've received from IBM has been outstanding,” he says. “And Solutions II has been the key to many of our successes, as well.”
The IBM solution has already helped hospitals achieve varying degrees of meaningful use. At the same time, INHS continues to expand its cloud services, and future plans will likely include the implementation of the IBM PureFlex™ System, an integrated infrastructure solution, to address additional infrastructure needs.
Skidmore says the net result is that his clients can now do their jobs without having to worry about the availability or performance of the cloud services INHS provides. “None of these hospitals are in the IT business—they’re in the patient care business,” he says. “With the help of IBM solutions, now they can focus on doing what they were founded to do.”
For more information
Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/system x
For more information about IBM Business Partner Solutions II, visit: www.solutions-ii.com
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Tivoli Storage Manager, System Storage SAN Volume Controller Software, IBM System Storage Productivity Center
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