Hunterdon Healthcare is a health system with a 178-bed hospital, 65 ambulatory locations and more than 25 care facilities. The organization provides a full range of preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic inpatient and outpatient hospital and community health services. Its medical center, Hunterdon Medical Center, treats more than 8,600 inpatients annually, with 33,000 emergency department visits and more than 292,000 outpatient visits per year.
To keep quality high and enable caregivers to spend more time with patients, Hunterdon Healthcare decided it needed to replace its aging email and collaboration systems, which had limitations with file size, required external products for archiving, and presented challenges around security and usability.
“Hunterdon Healthcare was using a very outdated email system which presented difficulties with security, functionality and integration with our back-office suite,” said Daniel Morreale, senior vice president and CIO at Hunterdon Healthcare. “Coupled with a desire to move the organization into a 21st century platform, and reduce the operating cost to support our back-office suite, we started to explore multiple solutions, which offered mail, calenders, collaborative tools and back-office products, word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation.”
As the health system worked though its due diligence in products, Google G Suite rose as our desired solution due to its integration, collaborative functionality and significantly lower cost.
Hunterdon Healthcare last year contracted with SADA Systems to help the health system migrate its IT infrastructure and applications to Google Cloud and G Suite.
Information security is a major priority for Hunterdon, which must comply with HIPAA and other regulations. Hunterdon opted for a G Suite Enterprise license, which replaced three separate security solutions with G Suite’s enhanced customization and controls. G Suite apps support HIPAA compliance, allowing Hunterdon Medical Center’s nursing department to automate processes that were previously manual to help nurses spend more time with patients.
“G Suite was selected to replace Groupwise for email and calendar functionality and Microsoft Office for back-office functionality,” Morreale explained. “IT also afforded the opportunity to eliminate WebEX for video conferencing and presentations. G Suite was to offer real-time collaborative tools, Google Meet for video meetings, enhancing collaboration during face-to-face interactions, as well as provide additional functionality such as survey tools, automated data capture, significant file storage capabilities, greater mobility for the workforce, the capacity to share files easily in a secure environment, and in general improve communication throughout the organization.”
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
With its implementation partner, SADA Systems, Hunterdon did a multi-phase implementation. The initial push was a rip and replace for email and calendaring across the entire enterprise. The second step was the conversion of back-office tools and the implementation of Google Drive for personal and department files.
“Later we introduced team files and file sharing,” Morreale said. “The organization initially encouraged people to switch, using a more organic growth model. We recognized this would be a slower process, but believed this methodology would provide more comprehensive adoption.
“We were somewhat surprised at the number of individuals who were resistant to the change and had a hard time adopting the new tools.”
Daniel Morreale, Hunterdon Healthcare
“Hunterdon concentrated on a department-by-department conversion and offered specialized training and ‘Google labs’ to remodel workflow and simplify departmental interaction. With SADA’s team helping navigate migration, this process proved to be very successful.”
By enabling its caregivers to be more effective and efficient administratively with G Suite, Hunterdon is reclaiming approximately 30 percent of its time for face-to-face patient interactions, the health system reported. By reducing or eliminating license costs for productivity software, email archiving, endpoint security and device management, Hunterdon reduced its IT costs by $1.3 million over three years, it added.
“Hunterdon realized its financial objective of lowering cost to support back-office and email functionality,” Morreale said. “We were able to eliminate many products on security, endpoint protection and device management, and gain greater functionality by using tools incorporated into the G Suite offering.”
Hunterdon also was able to reduce its footprint of Microsoft Office, yielding lower licensing cost. It still uses some Microsoft products for a variety of needs. Some of the clinical systems use Microsoft Word for text-related tasks, and the health system chose not to take Microsoft Excel away from the finance department in that they have several very complicated macros that the health system did not wish to re-invent.
Hunterdon also was able to reclaim over three terabytes of storage by moving back-office, personal, department and team files to Google Drive.
“Reworking some nursing workflow and taking advantage of the collaborative nature of the tools set, Hunterdon was able to reduce some of the administrative effort required of our Magnet Award Winning Nursing Staff and give back to that department approximately 30 percent more time for personal and up-close patient interaction with the simplification of sharing data,” Morreale said.
Hunterdon recognized the transformation of its workforce and associated workflow to a collaboration platform would need professional support. To that end, the health system worked with SADA Systems as the principal resource for change management effort for G-Suite.
“Hunterdon IT and SADA delivered group and one-on-one training sessions, along with webinars and YouTube training videos to effect the change,” Morreale explained. “The deep product knowledge SADA provided meshed nicely with the deep knowledge of the organizational culture contained in the IT department. Together we were able to create an environment for learning that has been very effective to change old behaviors.”
SADA delivers regular monthly training and workflow redesign sessions as the Hunterdon workforce works to increase adoption of the whole range of G Suite applications. SADA was critical to the health system’s success, Morreale said, and he feels fortunate that the two companies were able to work together on an effective and meaningful transformation.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“Overall, the organization is very pleased with the transition to G Suite,” Morreale stated. “Over the course of the past three years, we discovered that it is better to encourage transition rather than demand it, to work with individual departments to help them understand the nature of collaborative tools and how to iterate that skill into workflow, and to allow the use and growth to expand organically.”
Other lessons learned: G Suite is optimized for screen functionality, so printing anything requires a modest and easy extra step, he said. The moving of files from on-premise NAS to Google Drive originally has some challenges such as if an individual user moves files they will lose the creation date, he said. There are now tools in place to deliver this function, he added.
“The transition to a collaborative suite like Google’s G Suite has been a very positive journey for the organization, but that is not to say it has all been easy,” he said. “We were somewhat surprised at the number of individuals who were resistant to the change and had a hard time adopting the new tools.”
Seamless file sharing was awkward in the early part of the implementation but once file streaming was available, that became a moot concern, he explained. The transition to truly collaborative tools requires people to think of their workflow very differently and organizations should pay special attention to this effort, he advised.
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