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With Network Assurance, CoxHealth eliminates network outages and improves capabilities

Since implementing Network Assurance in April 2014, CoxHealth — a 950-bed integrated health network in southwest Missouri — has experienced zero network outages, a 95 percent reduction in some radiology image load times and improved clinical staff satisfaction, along with other enhancements.

Prior to implementation, CoxHealth clinicians dealt with frequent troubleshooting and network outages affecting electronic health records (EHRs). Often, they resorted to paper medical records and down-time procedures that interfered with their No. 1 priority: patient care.

“Your end users are not going to be patient waiting on a network and hope it's functioning,” said Lynne Yaggy, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer, Cox Medical Center Branson. “We are saving lives. We are taking care of patients, and that's the priority.

“Improving the platform in which we all work from is how we improve patient care.”

As an organization known for being invested in the communities around Springfield, Monett and Branson, Mo., CoxHealth leaders knew upgrading the network was a crucial investment to ensure their patients’ care could continue seamlessly within the EHR.

They wanted to make sure personalized care at the bedside would not be interrupted by technical issues.

“A big part of the decision to bring Cerner in and partner for Network Assurance was to get the skills and the resources to truly take a deep dive in our network, figure out what the problems were and understand how to fix those problems,” said Bruce Robison, chief information officer, CoxHealth.

A Cerner client since 1997, CoxHealth joined ITWorks in October 2012 through an alignment called the Star Initiative for Information Innovation.

CoxHealth’s clinicians worked with Cerner ITWorks℠ associates to develop a strategy and identify resources necessary to make a strong, reliable network a reality.

Since implementation, these associates have more time and resources to put toward upgrades, management and network monitoring to prevent future outages.

“Our network engineers have standardized equipment throughout this system so that they have better monitoring tools and we have fewer opportunities for failure,” said Jack Cole, IT administrative director, CoxHealth. “They recognize problems before they become a severe and impactful problem for our end users.”

From a clinician standpoint, improvements positively impact time and quality of patient care.

The speed of transmission for some radiology images has improved by 95 percent since implementation with reports that some images that took 40 seconds to transmit on the old network are now being delivered in just two seconds.

As southwest Missouri is known for many family friendly communities, as well as a popular tourism destination for lake-goers, CoxHealth’s emergency departments in Springfield, Monett and Branson see a combined total of about 171,000 visits per year. Having a reliable network means clinicians can connect with every aspect of their patients’ care and health history.

“When they come to the emergency room, I can quickly see their outpatient physician or the primary care physician has prescribed all these medications, and here's what's going on with them, so we continue their care seamlessly,” Yaggy said. “All of those things happen within the electronic record, and it is all in one platform.”