Fortis Healthcare Ltd. had grown to include more than 40 facilities, each managing its own IT infrastructure. To reduce costs and increase efficiency, the organization sought to consolidate IT management.
Fortis engaged IBM Technology Support Services – Healthcare Support Services to provide a consolidated help desk solution that helps users address software, hardware and network issues.
Reduces costsby replacing more than 25 individually managed IT systems with one streamlined solution
Increases efficiencyby centralizing support, making it easier to meet fluctuating needs among different facilities
Prioritizes IT issuesso that employees can always put patients first
Business challenge story
Widely dispersed infrastructure
Over the past several years, Fortis has experienced rapid growth, and today the Fortis portfolio includes 45 hospitals. As a result, the organization was using various hospital information system (HIS) products. These systems serve as the hospitals’ backbones, providing functions related to patient check-in and check-out, movement of patients, and billing. The hospitals’ IT infrastructures also included picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and vendor neutral archive (VNA) applications to store, present and share images produced by X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan and ultrasound machines.
To operate efficiently in an environment that runs 24 hours a day, Fortis must ensure that all of these business-critical applications are highly available to its business users. This means that the organization must treat its entire IT infrastructure—including servers, networks, and critical access points such as patient registration desks, billing counters and doctor’s workstations—as a highly critical asset.
However, with so many new hospitals in its portfolio and such a wide variety of IT solutions, Fortis was struggling to control costs and manage its overall infrastructure in a manner consistent with the needs of a busy healthcare organization.
Further complicating matters, each Fortis facility operated its own help desk, and each help desk had its own contact number. This was particularly challenging for employees who traveled between facilities, because they were never sure which number to call. Operating all of the separate help desks was also expensive, and it was difficult to ensure that help desk responses were consistent across facilities.
As Veneeth Purushotaman, Chief Information Officer for Fortis, explains, the company was eager to change the way it managed its IT infrastructure but unsure about where to start. “There was a lot of confusion and a lot of issues on the ground,” he says. “We needed to work with a company that could help us get the process right in terms of what sort of technology infrastructure we would need to address our concerns.”
Centralized IT support
Fortis engaged IBM Technology Support Services – for Multivendor Support Services (MVS), including facility management services (FMS) and annual maintenance contract (AMC). Purushotaman comments: “Fortis is a healthcare environment that has a wide variety of facilities. Creating a single management point helped simplify and streamline the way we support our IT infrastructure.”
Today, IBM provides Fortis with dedicated resources who provide around-the-clock monitoring of critical servers, network equipment, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links, operating systems and business application systems. In addition to monitoring the health of all of Fortis’s business-critical equipment, these resources provide support for basic IT issues. Senior network and server technical specialists are also on hand to help resolve more complex technical problems as quickly as possible.
Further, the IBM team helped Fortis develop standard operating procedures for tasks related to IT support, which are supplemented by a responsibility assignment (RACI) matrix to ensure that all issues are handled according to a clear, established protocol.
To help facilitate these services, IBM implemented a cost-efficient EMS tool, which centralizes reporting and recording of all IT issues and service requirements. The tool also provides a way for Fortis to document and approve all changes to the organization’s IT infrastructure.
Explains Purushotaman: “IBM helped us set up processes for how we address end user issues, whether those be with desktops, laptops or even the network. Now we have centralized visibility to a dashboard so that we can actually see the nature of the problems, which helps us take care of them properly.”
For example, “Severity One” breakdowns are IT issues that can have a serious impact on hospital operations. When this type of breakdown occurs, the IBM team raises an alert and brings together all of the key stakeholders to develop a plan of action for fixing the problem. The IBM team then monitors the situation at each step until the problem is resolved, ensuring that Fortis stakeholders are updated regularly. If the issue becomes more serious, the IBM team can escalate it to senior management.
IBM also helped Fortis develop a centralized help desk in its Bangalore location. Approximately 17 IT professionals staff the new help center, and they all visited a Fortis facility so that they would understand the enterprise’s IT infrastructure as a whole. Now, more than 7,000 Fortis employees access one interface for IT help. The new system registers their issues and assigns them to the appropriate staff members for quick and efficient resolution. The help desk staff also helped elevate Fortis’s compliance in terms of antivirus and data protection, operating system patches, and the security of network devices and servers.
The client team involves a large number of stakeholders, so communication and large-scale coordination have been the keys to efficient delivery. The team includes approximately 30 IT heads, eight senior IT managers, 100 onboard resources and 10 to 15 Fortis partner contact points, who provide wide area network (WAN) support, cloud support and application support services.
From a governance perspective, IBM conducts monthly operational reviews with Fortis, helping communicate the status of crucial projects and tasks. These meetings also allow the IBM and Fortis teams to discuss the underlying reasons for IT breakdowns and formulate plans for avoiding future interruptions. IBM client availability leaders, project managers and regional program managers also meet regularly with IT heads and support staff to gather feedback, prioritize needs and offer guidance on best practices. Additionally, there are regular meetings between IBM executives and Fortis senior management to discuss project governance and strategies for enhancing the experience for Fortis IT users.
Among all of these business-critical services, says Purushotaman, one of the most important elements of the solution has been the IBM team’s flexibility. “In India,” he says, “while it’s important to adhere to the contract in spirit, we expect some flexibility from our service providers. I want to commend IBM for allowing us to make exceptions to the contract. It has allowed our partnership to thrive.”
Lower costs, higher efficiency
By centralizing IT management with IBM Technology Support Services, Fortis reduced costs. Notes Purushotaman: “The sheer number of sites we operate can become very expensive when you’re talking about IT services. But with IBM, we were able to negotiate a volume discount that helps bring our costs down considerably.”
Fortis also increased efficiency throughout its network with the new solution. With a team devoted to ensuring that the entire organization’s IT infrastructure is running smoothly and that issues are resolved quickly, Fortis can remain attentive to its main focus: patients. If a Fortis employee experiences IT issues that affect patients directly, the corresponding ticket becomes a priority for the IBM team so that Fortis never compromises patient care. Says Purushotaman, “In the end, we are a healthcare company, so we must always make our patients our priority.”
Four years after beginning its relationship and transformation journey with IBM, Fortis recently decided to extend the relationship for another four years. The organization has also entrusted IBM with supporting its Microsoft Azure Cloud infrastructure.
About Fortis Healthcare Ltd.
Founded in 2001, Fortis delivers healthcare services through facilities in India, Dubai, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Fortis employs more than 16,000 people, and it offers services to individuals in all stages of life, from obstetrics and fetal medicine to cardiology, oncology, neurology and geriatrics. Fortis’s flagship hospital, the Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, is regarded as one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the world.
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