Earlier this year, the IT staff of the Red Oak, Iowa-based Montgomery County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) was spending hours a day on simple tasks, like backing up and encrypting hospital records. The daily gridlock, which resulted from its legacy data platform, installed in 2011, was eating up IT resources and keeping the hospital from implementing new projects.
“When we first installed our legacy system, it worked well and it served us very well for several years. But as the system aged we encountered a lot of problems, one of which was hardware, which we had to replace three times,” says Reagan Eubank, the network technician for MCMH. Tickets could take several days to resolve, and the system encountered issues with its temporary storage space, or scratch space, which wasn’t clearing automatically.
“Often I’d come in, in the morning, to a mess and it would take me most of the day to sort it back out again,” she says.
But at the end of April, the hospital found a way to streamline its back-end processes, improve data management and drive investment in more progressive healthcare services.
MCMH successfully deployed a new data platform from backup, recovery, archive and cloud provider Commvault, allowing the hospital to implement broader population health services, among other new projects.
“We’ve implemented a whole slog of new technology since Commvault came on board because I do have the resources to dedicate to getting them online and supporting them, instead of worrying about pulling my network technician away from the backups,” says Terry Koppa, MCMH’s network administrator. “The system gave me a full-time employee back.”
Securing Systems and Streamlining IT Resources
The new data protection system has dramatically improved data protection, dropped the cost and time necessary for backup and recovery — backups now take just 15 minutes a day, freeing up time and resources — and minimized risk around sensitive patient medical records.
Moreover, particularly in light of the WannaCry ransomware attacks, the new system allows the hospital to feel more secure in its data backups.
“We did have a cyberattack before we had Commvault's platform and it was super painful. An employee clicked on a link and the computer was infected as well as the network it was connected to, but it didn’t get everything,” says Eubank. “It would just end up in a few subfolders in some cases or a complete department in others. I had to go back in and manually restore every file and it took me about a week."
The Commvault system equips the facility with “point-in-time restore,” which would allow the IT team to go back to the moment before the incident happened and restore the server to its pre-attack state.
Introducing Population Health and Remote Referrals
But the technology isn’t just making the lives of the IT team easier. It’s also touching patients by allowing the hospital to introduce new projects, such as population health.
“We’re taking many of our patients that visit our hospital frequently, often patients with obesity, high A1C [blood glucose tests] or general bad health, and we push healthcare into their homes,” Koppa says.
The hospital provides these patients with an iPad installed with technologies that help the patients monitor their health from homes, such as glucometers or blood pressure monitors. Patients can use the iPads to monitor and report their vitals, and the information is then pushed back to the nurses monitoring their health.
“This aims to keep these patients healthier at home instead of visiting us in-hospital continuously,” says Koppa.
As a small 25-bed critical access hospital, and one that is 35 miles away from the next-closest hospital, the new data platform has also enabled a project that shares patient electrocardiogram (ECG) records with referring physicians.
“If we have a patient that presents a strange ECG, our physicians can call up a specialist physician in Omaha and have that physician log on anywhere, look at the ECG and tell them what’s going on,” says Koppa.
The system has allowed MCMH to move its focus from protecting and preserving data to offering more comprehensive services.
“We have the technical resources now to make those projects move forward,” Koppa says.