Four-phase deployment boosts HealthAlliance service

Health Board IT service provider cuts costs with service management

HealthAlliance, the shared services operation of the Counties-Manukau and Waitemata district health boards, has deployed service management software to boost its ICT delivery.

The organisation, founded in 2000, was seeking to control technology costs, boost service delivery and comply with regulatory requirements around its particular service areas, including ICT, payroll, HR, finance and other management services. Also on the agenda were hardware tracking and software licence management.

CIO Phil Brimacombe and service delivery team leader Alistair Mascarenhas say the HealthAlliance faced various challenges. The helpdesk was drowning in requests and the number of PCs was growing. HealthAlliance also found it didn’t have a handle on its software licensing. Whatever solution was deployed, it also needed to be able to deliver significant custom reporting capabilities.

HealthAlliance, which serves 12,000 employees and services 6,500 PCs (growing at around 500 a year) and 900 applications, provides ICT services for four hospitals, 70 community and mental health sites and 130 dental school sites and also community health services. More than a million people fall within the organisation’s coverage area.

Nine hundred applications probably seems a huge number, but as Brimacombe points out, every new piece of biomedical equipment now comes with software.

To answer its service and management challenges, HealthAlliance deployed various Symantec technologies in four phases, starting with the Altiris Service and Asset Management Suite followed by IT Analytics. The third phase saw Workflow delivered and finally came Altiris Helpdesk.

Symantec acquired Altiris in early 2007.

A Symantec-sponsored study by US-based consultancy Alchemy Solutions into the project, shows significant productivity gains being achieved from the investments. Alchemy found labour productivity gains around PC replacement activity of US$154,000 (NZ$264,000), heldesk labour productivity gains of US$859,000 (NZ$1.47 million) and gains in reporting of US$78,000 ($NZ134,000).

It also detected gains in service quality measured through conformance with service level agreements (SLAs). Compliance with the helpdesk SLA rose from 55% in July 2008 to 93% by November.

Alchemy says in its report that the gains allowed HealthAlliance to reallocate IT staff to more business-critical initiatives.

Brimacombe says Symantec paid the organisation so much attention in its case study because it was one of the first implementations in Australasia of Altiris’s Workflow product. He says Alchemy was very good at working with HealthAlliance on what was to be published about the project.

“We tried to strike a balance between what was optimal and reasonable,” he says about the Alchemy paper.

Brimacombe says the demand to do more with less is huge. He says being able to redeploy workers to higher value work means not having to employ contractors and being able to absorb costs within current budgets.

“What we’re trying to do is to build information technology that enables clinicians to deliver improved quality care through the use of information,” he says.

Boosting service levels and reaping productivity gains were considered important not just in themselves, but also to allow progress on strategic programmes such as electronic health records development.

Also, the organisation wanted to deploy ITIL (IT infrastructure libraries) to improve service delivery. Altiris is based on ITIL, says Brimacombe.

“The helpdesk system used at the time didn’t allow us to move on,” he says.

The project was implemented on time and on budget between June 2007 and June 2008 by Bay Dynamics.

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Tags managementAltirissymantechealthalliance

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