When Jesse Fasolo joined St. Joseph’s Health as director of technology infrastructure and cybersecurity, the existing technological infrastructure needed to be addressed.
The primary concern was the overall system was not future-proofed and was not primed for sustainability or scalability. Even things as simple as a mass email with a PDF attachment would significantly impact performance, keeping patients waiting to be admitted or doctors waiting for lab results.
“These daily performance issues led to slowdowns, and as we began to collect more advanced data and utilize technologies like AI and analytics, we knew this approach was unsustainable,” Fasolo explained. “The usage of data to make business decisions is critical, especially now, and we needed an environment capable of serving up the performance that’s required for more advanced digital processing.
“Another major concern – not just for St. Joseph’s but industrywide – was the continued risk of ransomware attacks plaguing the entire healthcare system,” he added.
According to research from Sophos, there has been a 94% increase in ransomware attacks targeting the industry in the last year alone. With the legacy storage system St. Joseph’s had in place when Fasolo first joined the organization, recovering from ransomware attacks took an average of 247 days.
“This would interrupt clinicians’ workflows, cause major headaches for the IT department and prevent us from providing the best patient care possible,” he noted. “The COVID-19 pandemic further drove home the need to plan for disaster recovery, so we made a commitment to upgrading our system.”
Vendor Pure Storage’s FlashArray//C with Veeam was proposed as the technology to assist St. Joseph’s with backup and recovery. In the event of a ransomware attack, the software has the ability to help recover instantly using snapshots – taken every 15 minutes – from Pure SafeMode.
“It also offers non-disruptive upgrades and consistent, single-millisecond latency for our demanding healthcare environment, so we never have clinicians or other staff dealing with wasted downtime,” Fasolo said.
“One other major shift we’ve noted is despite the growing demand for data and support, we’ve reduced our overall data center footprint and power and cooling consumption, going from four racks of spinning disk to a fraction of a rack.”
Jesse Fasolo, St. Joseph’s Health
“Additionally, it was a major priority for us to have the ability to start moving workloads to the cloud so we could archive data that we needed to save but didn’t need constant access to,” he continued. “Pure’s collaboration with Amazon Web Services was another determining factor when investing in the technology, as it allows us to use the AWS cloud for backup and disaster recovery, application and data migration, and development testing.”
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Implementing Pure Storage’s technology has enabled St. Joseph’s to become a more data-driven organization and optimize processes to streamline patient care and everyday workflows.
“It has yielded immediate improvements in the performance and reliability of clinical applications, email, analytics, Citrix VDI, and more,” Fasolo explained. “Now, email backups take two hours instead of four days, and if there is an outage in one data center, systems continue to run seamlessly.
“The infrastructure also enables us to improve and advance care by harnessing more advanced data, as well as capabilities like AI within some of our clinical applications,” he continued. “For example, our radiology department uses AI to read images and make recommendations to the specialists they work with, and with Pure, we can easily store, access and utilize those AI-driven insights.”
St. Joseph’s also can use live data it now has access to, to track everything from revenue trends to hospital utilization rates and patient status, meaning the technology is used broadly across all teams and offers important insights on both the clinical and operational side, he noted.
In addition to the aforementioned metrics, the vendor has helped St. Joseph’s cut email backup time by 98% and lower IT maintenance time to one hour per month. This frees up the IT team to focus on other urgent tasks on a need-based basis, further optimizing system performance.
“In terms of the impact on our clinical staff and other people in the operations space, one of the key metrics that we’ve observed is that login times for users have gone from minutes to seconds,” Fasolo reported. “This helps our team members focus on important work rather than waiting to access the applications they need, and also prevents additional lag time when it comes to timely tasks like documentation.
“One other major shift we’ve noted is despite the growing demand for data and support, we’ve reduced our overall data center footprint and power and cooling consumption, going from four racks of spinning disk to a fraction of a rack,” he added.
Hospitals and health systems have the potential to make a significant and immediate impact on reducing global data center carbon emissions – the vendor’s technology has facilitated St. Joseph’s ability to do so, Fasolo said.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“All healthcare provider organizations need to prioritize data storage and access to data,” Fasolo advised. “More and more, the field is being driven and advanced by the insights we gather, and making sure data is readily available and as protected from risk as possible is imperative for the success of the healthcare industry.
“We’re now able to track key information about patients, and we don’t have to be constantly thinking and worrying about whether our IT infrastructure is going to fail,” he continued.
Everyone in the healthcare industry has a lot on their plate, and having a storage technology that is not an ongoing source of concern is incredibly reassuring and a relief, he added.
“We’ve been able to minimize interruptions to hospital operations and patient care, foster ongoing healthcare innovations with AI and analytics, and allow clinicians to access medical data in seconds,” he said.
“This keeps St. Joseph’s moving at the speed we need to serve our community, and the longevity of the solution means we’ll be able to keep doing so for years to come,” he concluded.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.
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