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Digital transformation has far-reaching implications for CIOs
Mon, 13th Nov 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Digital transformation is infiltrating every aspect of the healthcare sector, and traditional paper processes are now being moved to online platforms. But with this move, healthcare providers are now facing growing challenges to ensure medical equipment and access to critical patient information is available 24/7, or risk affecting patient experience. As the demand for integrated healthcare services increases, organizations such as the Lions Eye Institute have turned to digital channels to streamline and modernise patient care. The shift to digital and the reliance on technology has put healthcare IT administrators at the frontline of the patient experience. About the Lions Eye Institute The Lions Eye Institute is a not-for-profit centre of excellence that combines world-class scientific research into the prevention of blindness with the highest level of eye care delivery.

It incorporates one of Australia's largest ophthalmic practices, including a Day Surgery Unit and a Laser Vision Centre. The Lions Eye Institute also houses the Lions Eye Bank, Lions Optics, Lions Outback Vision and the Lions Save-Sight Foundation WA.

Gaining visibility over specialised equipment    The Lions Eye Institute is an organisation driven by technology. From medical research labs to clinical trials to patient clinics, the institute is dependent on a range of complex pieces of equipment that captures detailed images of people's eyes.

Due to this complexity, equipment has to be sourced from multiple vendors internationally, with minimal technology support available locally, making visibility over functionality challenges. Rod Bacon, Lions Eye Institute CIO says, “Our clinic treats 60,000 to 70,000 patients per year, and this equipment must be readily available.

“Without complete visibility over our IT environment and the entire range of specialist equipment, we are unable to plan for and remediate potential failures, and in turn respond to issues quickly.

With efficiency in mind, the Lions Eye Institute realised their current network monitoring system was using too many resources to run, was too slow and required a significant learning curve for staff. While the Institute wasn't suffering from a lack of visibility, it wasn't experiencing any other benefits either.

It was time to invest in a tool that was not bound to any specific technology vendor (vendor agnostic) and was able to offer visibility beyond the IT network alone, to incorporate the Institute's specialised equipment.

PRTG was the “elegant choice” Manageability was key. The Lions Eye Institute was looking for a new system that was easy to deploy and simple to use across the team, eliminating reliance on any single member of staff. The decision to transition wasn't taken lightly.

The team evaluated established products and came to the conclusion that none were robust enough to meet their specific requirements. It was at this stage that they turned to forums to look for products that were future proof and could deliver long past deployment. “As a not-for-profit organisation affordability was a big criterion for us. We didn't want to spend a lot of money on an enterprise system that wouldn't offer us a return on investment. We tested a number of commercial and open source products but nothing was as elegant as PRTG,” said Bacon. Customised monitoring of specialised equipment Before deployment, the Lions Eye Institute had little or no visibility over its medical equipment and functioned mainly under a break-fix mentality, monopolising the IT department's time. From the second Paessler's PRTG tool was installed, it began streamlining operations, offering a ‘set and forget' mentality.

“Deployment couldn't have been any simpler. PRTG's auto-discovery capability was really good and was able to accurately classify 80% of our equipment and was up and running with rudimentary monitoring within a couple of days. The only thing we have to worry about now is scheduling maintenance, however, push notifications to have us covered the rest of the time,” said Bacon.

Once the core deployment was rolled out the Lions Eye Institute was able to customise sensors to provide active monitoring of specialist equipment and ensure availability at any time.

“We had scripting skills internally, and we were able to write new scripts to integrate with our devices and report back on the status of our complex medical equipment,” said Bacon. A streamlined customer experience The implementation of PRTG has helped the Lions Eye Institute streamline services and provide more efficiency through their patient care clinic. The IT team now has greater visibility over the Institute's network, not only offering 24/7 monitoring, but ensuring issues can be resolved before they cause any impact on patient care.

Emergency service desk calls have dramatically decreased by approximately 80 to 90%, giving staff the time to focus on internal projects, lowering stress levels and increasing user satisfaction.

“Traditionally, our IT team was focused on providing reactive break-fix services, requiring most of our project work to be outsourced as we didn't have the manpower. Since implementing PRTG we are spending significantly less time fighting IT fires and now can utilise internal employees for project work,” said Bacon.