Co-authored by Alex Foster
A clear shift is occurring in IT. Customers today buy outcomes and expect experiences, but IT alone can’t deliver on these expectations. IT organizations need to work, together, with partners.
In fact, we like to say we’ve entered an era where successful companies work with a strong ecosystem of partners to bring solutions to market that deliver exactly what customers want and companies need.
And as successful companies focus their limited resources on further differentiating their core competencies, they are increasingly partnering with managed services providers (MSPs) to deliver and manage cutting-edge technology that translates into desired business outcomes.
The healthcare industry offers a great example, as clinics focus on delivering exceptional patient care while entrusting the care of their IT infrastructure to a MSP.
In early 2020, for example, the Family Medical Center (FMC) of Griffin, GA quickly realized that its IT infrastructure had to meet new demands, in new ways, to respond to a 40 percent increase in patient visits driven largely by Covid.
Fortunately for FMC and its patients—before the pandemic had become daily news—FMC leadership proactively engaged Cisco MSP partner Liberty Technology to perform a “soup-to-nuts” review and update of its IT systems. The team at Liberty Technology drew upon deep experience, expertise, and best practices to develop and implement a plan to modernize FMC’s IT landscape, leveraging Cisco enterprise-grade connectivity and security products.
Now, after the update, it takes only ten seconds to pull up an x-ray image; before patient and physician had to wait 20 to 30 minutes and it would take some fifteen seconds to begin printing a document; now printing starts instantly. Fifteen seconds may not seem like a long time, but when you multiply this by 300 patients seen daily, busy caregivers were wasting about 75 minutes a day just standing around the printer.
“We knew intuitively we could deliver better patient experiences if we could leverage technology to improve the efficiencies of our clinicians. But we didn’t realize by how much until Liberty Technology came in deploying Cisco technologies and essentially overhauled our systems. We’re so grateful that we did, as we never could have provided the life-saving services to our community that we did, especially during the Covid surges.”
—Dr. Benjamin Hess, clinician and co-owner of FMC
The need for better security a motivating factor
The desire to deliver exceptional patient experiences—making patient visits as efficient as possible, for example—certainly drove the proactive update of FMC’s IT systems. Another primary driver was keeping their systems safe from cybercriminals. In 2017, the center fell victim to a ransomware attack.
In the aftermath of this attack, management understood it needed a better defense against potential attacks than the solution installed by the previous MSP. Here again, FMC turned to Liberty Technology, which deployed a full suite of Cisco security products, putting state-of-the-art defenses in place.
The security software included Umbrella, Secure Endpoint (formerly AMP for Endpoints), Secure Network Analytics (formerly Stealthwatch) and Meraki MX security. These tools come standard in Liberty Technology’s MSP platform.
With Cisco’s security portfolio, Liberty Technology was able to verify that FMC’s systems are kept clean of any threats. As FMC Practice Administrator Tanya Long puts it, “Our systems are now locked down like Fort Knox!”
Delivering high-quality patient experiences
In addition, with the previous systems, FMC continually experienced IT-related issues, such as not being able to review x-ray images, see lab results, or access patient data in a timely manner. “Our systems were down probably as much as they were up while seeing patients. And when our systems were up, they were slow as molasses,” said Long. “When there is an ill patient waiting in an examination room, the clinician needs immediate access to this information to make rapid diagnosis and care recommendations. Many Covid patients require chest x-rays, for example, with the results determining whether the patient needs to go into the hospital or can return home.”
Architecturally, the center’s servers were in a building located next door to the main practice. To communicate between buildings, staff connected to the internet over a 20 Mbps WAN line and then looped back over another 20 Mbs WAN connection to the server room next door. This solution simply did not provide enough bandwidth to transfer large files such as x-ray images.
Because FMC owns the land where its two buildings are located, Liberty Technology implemented a fiber-optic network with Cisco Meraki MX appliances. Now, this small campus foundation delivers 10 Gbs throughput—a 50X improvement over the previous 20 Mbs!
Improving patient experiences
In addition to caring about their patients’ health, the entire staff at FMC also cares about their patients’ time. They know their patients want to be in and out of the doctor’s office as quickly as possible. With the previous systems, patients waited in an examination room or at home for a clinician to call after finally being able to access lab results. Likewise, the caregivers at FMC want to efficiently administer care, which has become even more important given higher pandemic-fueled volumes of patients.
With updated Cisco-based systems designed, installed, and managed by Liberty Technology, FMC staff members can now see patients very efficiently, allowing them to get on with their day. And everyone feels better knowing that Cisco’s security portfolio is keeping patient data safe.
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