In 2014, GHS began the massive undertaking of integrating patient records and billing. The new electronic health record system is called Epic, and it replaces nearly 50 different systems. Epic is a fundamental component of GHS’ digital transformation strategy.
Epic gives healthcare providers on-demand access to patients’ records at any time of the day or night. With complete patient information, healthcare providers can make well-informed treatment decisions quickly and safely. Patients benefit from electronic health records, too. Epic allows GHS’s 1.5 million patients to interact with their medical information, schedule appointments and communicate with their physicians through a secure web portal.
“Epic unifies our data and positions GHS for the future, but Epic is only as good as the technology that supports it,” said Greg Johnson, Manager, I/S Systems Engineering at GHS. “If backup and recovery fail, we can’t guarantee Epic’s availability.”
Backup storage utilization was another challenge.
“Legacy backup wasn’t managing and retiring restore points in EMC® Data Domain appliances, so backup storage utilization was 90%, which is heart-attack territory,” Johnson said. “We didn’t want to risk running out of backup storage with Epic, so we made plans to purchase more.”
Matt Shuford, Systems Engineer for GHS, identified two additional challenges. Limited visibility into the backup infrastructure prevented him from seeing and resolving backup issues before they impacted users. And, spending 25 hours each week troubleshooting failed backup and recovery kept him from other data center projects. Shuford asked Johnson to consider hiring someone to focus on backup.
“Around this same time we deployed a proof-of-concept project featuring Veeam® Availability Suite™,” Shuford said. “Our challenges disappeared one by one.”
Veeam turned each challenge GHS faced into opportunities for 24x7 Availability.
“The systems that help us provide patients with the finest care and protect their privacy are up and running at all times, thanks to Veeam,” Johnson said. “This includes Epic, the driving force of our healthcare system and the centerpiece of our digital transformation strategy, as well as document management, patient identification tracking and laptop encryption.”
During the proof-of-concept project, Veeam proved its worth time and time again, beginning with quick recovery of virtual machines (VMs) running Microsoft SQL Server, which supports Epic. Next Veeam backed up and recovered a VM supporting a patient identification tracking system, despite the legacy backup vendor telling GHS that backup wasn’t possible. The system is critical to patient safety because it enables clinicians to use wireless, hand-held devices that monitor patients’ locations within the hospital and verify their identification before dispensing and administering medication.
“If we hadn’t been able to restore our laptop encryption system, we wouldn’t have been able to un-encrypt our laptops, inconveniencing thousands of users,” Shuford said. “If a laptop had been stolen, we wouldn’t have been able to erase its hard drive, which might have compromised patient data.”
Veeam saved time and money too.
“We save 1,300 hours each year in troubleshooting time, which in turn saved $70,000 because we didn’t have to hire someone to focus on backup,” Shuford said. We also saved $250,000 in backup storage because utilization dropped from 90% to 60%— Veeam deletes outdated restore points. Moreover, during a three-year period, GHS saved nearly 100% of the cost of legacy backup.
Shuford uses the hours he saves in troubleshooting to fine-tune the backup environment with Veeam monitoring, reporting and capacity planning.
“Veeam alerts us to issues we address before they become problems and impact the organization,” Shuford explained. “For example, Veeam tells us if a VM supporting Epic is running out of resources so we can resolve the issue proactively and eliminate the risk of downtime and data loss. We’ve never had this level of visibility into our backup environment. We feel fully in control for the first time.”