About Memorial Hospital and Health Care System
Memorial Hospital and Health Care System has provided medical services to their community for over 70 years. They are a growing healthcare organization with a robust footprint in Jasper, Indiana. Memorial Hospital has:
- 30 specialties
- 250 physicians and other advanced practice providers
- 1,800 employees
- 128 beds at their primary location
- 6,600 inpatient visits annually
- 250,000 outpatient visits annually
- 29,000 emergency department visits annually
Among many others, their distinctions include winning the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, achieving Magnet Recognition, and receiving nearly a decade of straight “A” Hospital Safety Grades from The Leapfrog Group.
A New Epic EHR Implementation
In 2019, Memorial Hospital decided to migrate their electronic health record (EHR) system to Epic from another provider. This is a monumental undertaking, regardless of an organization’s size. Provisioning, configuring and managing Epic infrastructure is complex, costly, and challenging, especially when it comes to disaster recovery infrastructure, which is necessary but rarely utilized.
It’s critical to get everything right to ensure that patient care is unaffected as you implement a new EHR system. And that’s why Memorial Hospital reached out to OST for help with two major projects in early 2020:
- Building and configuring the on-prem data center for their Epic production environment.
- Building, configuring and managing their Epic disaster recovery (DR) environment in the cloud on Microsoft Azure.
In particular, Memorial Hospital was interested in implementing Epic infrastructure using cloud services to take advantage of the following benefits, especially for disaster recovery:
By leveraging the inherently scalable, on-demand capabilities of cloud services, Epic DR and other infrastructure costs can be significantly reduced because cloud services are only paid for while in use and you only pay for what you need.
Cloud infrastructure services can be implemented immediately rather than waiting weeks for hardware to be shipped and provisioned. Using automation and infrastructure-as-code, cloud-based Epic environments can be implemented in hours versus weeks or months.
Epic infrastructure can be run on cloud services without the burden of managing physical data centers, the headaches of lifecycle management and sudden hardware requirement changes.
OST was involved in the first Epic on Azure DR implementation with Legacy Health in 2018 (leading to 65% savings over their on-prem solution). And OST has a long history of expertise in healthcare, managed services, patient experience and service design and much more.
The flexibility and scalability of OST’s approach to cloud-based Epic infrastructure played a critical role in Memorial Hospital’s successful Epic implementation at an incredibly difficult time.
Avoiding an Epic Implementation Catastrophe Despite COVID
“Early 2020” was not an ideal time to set off on the journey to a new EHR. Barely a month after kicking off Memorial Hospital’s Epic implementation and migration project, COVID hit the United States in full. Lockdowns, uncertainty, spending freezes and supply chain breakdowns meant that Memorial Hospital would not receive their hardware on time for the buildout and launch. In fact, the hardware was delayed for at least six months.
This turned out to not be a problem. OST was able to quickly pivot our strategy to set up all of Memorial Health’s Epic environments in the cloud: production, development, testing, DR, etc. Our proprietary, foundational architecture for Epic on Azure allowed us to streamline the implementation and even make up for lost time related to managing the hardware delays.
OST also architected Memorial Hospital’s solution so their cloud-based environments could easily be migrated to their physical infrastructure once it did come in.
This meant Memorial Hospital:
- Successfully navigated the enormous uncertainty surrounding when (or if) their hardware would arrive
- Started their implementation on time and hit all the major milestones in their migration on schedule
- Effectively collaborated with Epic’s project group and other vendors involved in the rollout
- Experienced no interruptions to patient care and critical services
Testing OST’s Epic on Azure Disaster Recovery Solution
As part of the implementation, DR failover testing is required by Epic. In addition to rigorous internal testing, official DR testing occurred under several different conditions to demonstrate the resilience and responsiveness of OST’s cloud solution.
First, OST and Epic performed the initial DR cutover to Azure. We executed the DR playbook successfully and tested sessions while running in Azure before cutting back to production.
For the second DR cutover exercise, we tested what we like to call a “pilot light” DR solution. This is one way that organizations can significantly reduce costs, especially for disaster recovery. Essentially, some critical services act as the “pilot light” in Azure, and when DR cutover is required, scripts run to light up everything else in the DR environment.
To test this with Epic and Memorial Hospital, we set up a “blue code” hotline to mimic a disaster situation. After the call came in, all servers were made available within 5 minutes, and they had fully cutover to the DR environment in Azure within 35 minutes. For reference, Epic requires that it take less than 1 hour. And, to further prove out the solution, Memorial Hospital stayed on the DR environment in Azure for a week with no issues.
Ongoing Managed Services for Epic on Azure
OST continues to provide Memorial Hospital with ongoing IT managed services for their Epic environments. Our managed services team helps Memorial Health in many ways above and beyond a typical managed services provider. For example:
- OST’s team includes Epic Operational Database Administrators, Epic Client Systems Administrators, and a variety of other certified professionals who can support applications, servers, presentation, hyperspace client delivery and much more. This helps Memorial Hospital maintain their partnership level with Epic, save costs and round out their talent pool with the exact mix of specialists their team needs.
- Memorial Hospital can avoid having their credentialed team being singled threaded and having a single point of failure when someone wants to take time off or needs to step away from their role for a period of time.
- In an incredibly difficult hiring market, OST can fill gaps in Memorial Hospital’s talent pool so they can focus on finding the best candidates for the positions they want to fill.
- Detailed service level agreements (SLAs) mean Memorial Hospital does not have to worry about interruptions to their IT services or reduced performance.
OST: Helping Healthcare Organizations Implement and Manage Epic in the Cloud
Healthcare organizations choose to partner with OST because we have been implementing, optimizing and managing Epic systems for over 15 years. Our team has the staff, skill sets, certifications and experience to design, build and maintain Epic infrastructure, applications and much more — both on-prem and in the cloud.
If you want help solving the complex challenges your healthcare organization is facing, we’d love to start a conversation. Contact OST today!