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Aligning clinical needs with a highly reliable infrastructure

CoxHealth, a 948-bed health care system based in Springfield, Mo., has upgraded its network.

Leaders at CoxHealth knew they needed to do something about the organization’s disparate, outdated information technology (IT) network.

Outages were occurring twice a week, jeopardizing patient safety.

“When you have a multi-hospital health care system, if everyone is on a different network foundation, that becomes very complex to manage,” said Lynne Yaggy, vice president and chief nursing officer (CNO). “It becomes very fraught with error.”

To create a more reliable network, the IT team, clinician champions and Yaggy worked together to define a strategy, pick the right partners and ensure a smooth implementation. The results are impressive.

  • Since the go-live of the network improvements in April 2014, the organization has not experienced an outage.
  • Front-line clinicians see greatly improved performance. The speed of transmission for some radiology images has improved by 95 percent.
  • CoxHealth reports that some images that took 40 seconds to transmit on the old network are now being delivered in just two seconds.

Understanding health care

Staff members who worked on the project say one key to success was partnering with organizations that understand how health care really works.

“Health care is the ultimate 24/7 business,” said Dan Brewer, senior manager, ITWorks Technologies. An ally “that does not have health care experience, a lot of the time, does not understand the urgency or the importance of the decisions that we make.”

Brewer, a former CoxHealth employee, became a Cerner associate when the organization entered into a strategic alignment with Cerner ITWorks℠ in October 2012. He spoke about the project at the HIMSS 15 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

To upgrade and enhance the network, the organization integrated Cisco-based wireless and Brocade wired components with all clinical and non-clinical applications as well as medical and mobile devices.

Matching upgrades with capacity

Yaggy also stressed the importance of matching clinical upgrades with network capacity.

“You’re going to need to have a roadmap and make sure you have the infrastructure in place to support it,” she said.

Mission-critical services

Another important element of success is a network that’s flexible enough to support the rapidly evolving mobile data, devices and applications.

Through CoxHealth’s highly connected network, nurses and clinicians now have a smooth experience whether they use a computer on wheels or fixed desktop workstation.

“We need to be able to deliver services as clinicians need them,” said Network Team Lead John Liehr. “It’s now a mission-critical part of our network.”

View All Client Achievement Stories
Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.