Radius Health, formed four years ago, has grown by acquisition, bolting together eighty companies including 42 pharmacies and 19 medical centres as well as 22 residential care facilities and a security monitoring company among others.
Radius’ mission is to create a preventative health service model to deliver “wellness” to its customers rather than dealing with, and paying for, illness after it emerges. It’s a mission that becomes increasingly vital as populations age across the globe and associated healthcare costs spiral.
However, the next stage on that journey is not more acquisitions — it’s to create a common platform to support integrated operations across the group and to generate useful management information.
CIO Steve Mayo-Smith joined Radius in August from the Auckland District Health Board and began planning a major integration almost immediately.
“It’s an interesting challenge to create a common platform and infrastructure,” he says. “We went looking for an independent partner rather than the sales arm of a major vendor.”Mayo-Smith says, particularly in health, the major vendors will offer a product out of the US or the UK. If you are very lucky, you’ll find one out of Australia.
“We didn’t want to be first,” he says. “We wanted to configure the platform for the environment here.”
That led Mayo-Smith to Axon, a company he had dealt with many years before.
The different business units at Radius use different area-specific business applications. Microsoft’s Axapta, the former Navision Damgaard product, is used across all groups but the pharmacies also use New Zealand-made Toniq and the medical centres use a similarly Kiwi made system called MedTech. The security monitoring unit uses a US system called Manitou and there are also pockets of bespoke applications. All of that presented integration problems.
Mayo-Smith decided to start at the basics: standardising infrastructure and processes. At the heart of it all, Axon chief executive Scott Green says, was distributed Active Directories. Radius had three of these, but they had to be standardised and a single domain created.
“It’s a critical component to get right, to start with,” says Green.
Radius is a complex organisation from a telecommunications and data perspective, with 100 different locations New Zealand-wide that require fast and cost effective service.
Axon will deploy virtualisation technology for software as well as servers. Microsoft virtualising technology called Softricity will stream Microsoft applications to users on demand.
The centralised, virtualised computing model will allow Radius to add or subtract business units without the need to boost IT staff — and IT costs, says Green.
The infrastructure goes live in April with users being migrated shortly after. Then comes the job of extracting value, which Mayo-Smith says is not an IT project but a business project.
The new infrastructure will bring many benefits including remote management and deployment, the ability to run applications that could conflict on a PC from the server and eased software licence management.
The next stage for Radius’ IT, Mayo-Smith says, is adding a layer of business intelligence.