Faster, Safer, Better Tech: OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Saves More than Money

Jun 16, 2021

The aging network infrastructure at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center became a strategic opportunity for the 647-bed hospital. CIO of OSF HealthCare, Jim Mormann wanted the hospital’s LAN refresh to be more than a band-aid fix but rather help it establish the digital transformation he envisioned for the entire system. The next version of their network would support improvements to patient experience and outcomes, not simply be a means to enable IT.

Mormann challenged network provider Pointcore Network Services (PCNS) to make the network more resilient, reliable, and cutting edge while significantly reducing operational costs.

Delivering Innovative Solutions

“We spent a year investigating vendors and technologies as we determined what the healthcare network should look like,” said Collin Summers, Network Director for PCNS. “We looked for opportunities to actually drive down the total cost of ownership of the network as well as significantly enhance operations, improve security, day-to-day implementation, and other areas.”

PCNS vetted and proved every solution they considered. Mormann highlights the fact that PCNS doesn’t represent any particular brand or hardware and reviews everything with an unbiased opinion. “They act as an extension of our team, helping set a direction that’s best for our hospital and meets our business case for the future,” Mormann said.

Casey Knepp, Program Manager for PCNS, brings clinical knowledge to the PCNS team. “The switch from the old network to the new one needed to be extremely fast. We needed to ensure critical services could continue, MRI and CT machines would still run, and Saint Francis wouldn’t need to resort back to paper,” Knepp explained. This required a well-planned refresh that would take place in a week rather than a more typical six-month timeframe.

They evaluated everything that existed on the network and how it performed in order to take out switches or put in new cores as needed. The team enhanced every single network data closet in the hospital before the switch, fixing issues with power, cooling, and space, and replacing all the cabling. They completely ran a parallel network where possible, testing everything. “We used the LAN refresh as an opportunity to fix everything: Summers said which not only supported the new technology but enhanced the long-term reliability of the network.

Profound Impact

Using fabric technology enabled the hospital network to move from a flat architecture to mesh, which eliminated numerous routers and firewalls. Automation also eliminated time-intensive configuring of individual ports and instead configured the entire service running across the network.

“The fabric and automation together enable the teams to just plug-in devices and the devices work. There’s no need for a technician to determine which port they’re plugged into and whether or not it has the appropriate level of security. There’s no configuring of access points,” Summers said.

Medical staff can log in or connect seamlessly and securely while roaming between buildings. Not only is it significantly simpler than the previous network, the cost of the hardware, software and maintenance is lower than many other products PCNS reviewed. The new network enabled Saint Francis to do more for less.

Healthcare Specialty

“PCNS is a network technology company that has a deep understanding of healthcare. They know which items are the heavy hitters on the network and the capacity they require.” Mormann said. “They don’t just teach us about new technology; they show us how it should be used in the healthcare setting.”

“Future-forward health care means being able to connect doctors and patients in different locations, allowing patients to receive digital services efficiently. At OSF, we implemented a solution that drives automation. minimizes security risks and reduces cost without sacrificing one for the other, Summers said. “The network architecture is enabling long-term reliability and built to support a rapidly shifting healthcare delivery model.”

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