The Challenge: What To Do With Legacy Data
Chris is the customer Program Manager and Chris is a hero within his organization. I am the Dell Technologies Program Manager. I work side by side with Chris. Our Program? Archiving data. We archive data from applications used within the organization that are no longer active and are only used to reference patient or other relevant information.These “ready to retire” applications may reside in any one of the 300 locations throughout the customer’s healthcare system. They may be old electronic health record (EHR) systems, where only a select number of records were ported to the new enterprise EHR. They may be financial applications, or human resource applications; they may be simple stand-alone point solutions such as pathology or operating room, or surgical management applications.
In each case, regulatory compliance and/or hospital policy requires the data to be preserved and accessible for a period of time; 7, 10, 21 years – maybe more.
Archiving data from legacy applications does just that – it keeps data secure and accessible. Data from applications is moved to a single archiving platform which holds each application’s archived data in a separate and secure space; an “archive holding”.
Users often need a way to timely reference data in the archive. To retrieve needed business information, search screens are developed. Entering a name, date-of-birth, date-of-visit, or other customer search criterion, returns result sets in a format often more user friendly than that of the original application.
Some applications need no search screens. Data is simply stored and held for applications where data access needs are infrequent and where results aren’t needed for a week or more.
My client is approaching 70 archived applications; all work that’s been completed in 2 ½ years. This project has driven costs and risk from the organization at warp speed. In fact, customer-led and endorsed Return on Investment (ROI) calculations show this project to be self-funding; the point where the direct and hard cost savings to the organization equal or surpass the cost to archive the application. This is exciting for us. Even with many of the hard cost savings yet to be recorded, the project funds itself. 5-year and 10-year savings projections are through the roof.
Crisis On Christmas Eve
Back to Chris: Chris’ phone rang last week. On the other end was a prominent doctor from one of the organization’s recently acquired hospitals. The legacy application – an application on which the archiving team has been working – crashed. It crashed and it was unclear if the knowledge remained in the organization to resurrect it. It was this hospital’s legacy EHR. It contained vital and often referenced patient history information. Patient history that had not been not ported to the enterprise EHR during the implementation period.
The doctor was distraught. Patient care interruptions were a certainty; the impact of which was unknown but could be substantial. He was calling Chris to determine how much of the legacy application existed within the archive and wondering if it was, in any way, ready for access.
“All of it” Chris told him – “we’ve got all the data from that legacy system. And, yes, we have an environment built that is accessible to your teams.” Crisis adverted; Chris the hero.
In fact, this is the third time Chris has received a similar phone call. He got one back in 2017; on Christmas Eve. Similar situation, only worse. That night, just after the retirement of the only resource who had experience and knowledge of a very old legacy application, the old and dilapidated hardware on which that system was running gave out. In this case it was clear that no restoration was possible.
Chris’ response at that time; identical to this one: “All of it, we got all of it”. Though in this instance, access would be a couple of months away, immediate peace-of-mind washed over the user communities and the IT organization of which Chris was a part.
A critical application crash, between the two just described, had the same response: “We got it”.
Hero at the Helm
Chris is not only a hero because he had the foresight to move data from aging applications expeditiously into the archive, but also because the program over which he presides is doing so in a cost-neutral way. The risk he just mitigated came at no cost to the organization.
Chris is a hero because he’s providing user communities custom archived applications with a consistent look and feel. These applications are customized to meet each user group’s unique search and result set formatting needs but look identical. Training? Very little to none is needed to jump from one application to the next. Training costs and efforts associated with rolling out a new solution within Chris’ organization have typically been high; sometimes wrought with customer dissatisfaction and inhibiting full adoption. Not so with the archive. Users have rapidly adopted the solution and are clamoring for the older applications in their patch to be brought into the archive fold as quickly as possible.
Chris is a hero because the archived applications are secure. Only authorized users can access the individual archived applications. Additional security has been applied, inside the applications where necessary, to further restrict access to search screens.
Chris is my hero because he’s cleared internal organization roadblocks and championed this project like no other counterpart I’ve ever work with. He and his leadership have adopted the “just enough functionality to do your job” approach. Giving the user’s exactly what they need – but no more – holds archiving costs down. He and his leadership have embraced what we’re doing and taken the positive user comments, the cost-saving details, the risk mitigation success stories to the highest levels of his healthcare’s executive teams.
Building A Successful Archiving Program
Chris and his leadership team oversee one of the organization’s most successful programs. With many more applications to archive, we’re just getting started.
In coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing more information about the importance to the program’s success of strong executive sponsorship. We’ll talk about the “just enough to do your job” approach – we call it the “Minimalist’s Approach”. Other topics I’ll discuss are objections and hurdles an organization might face and how to overcome them, Return on Investment (ROI) measurements and partnering with internal IT to structure a successful project. And, we’ll get into the applications themselves with topics such as how to handle Release of Information, useful ways to aggregate and present patient chart and financial information, and many more topics.
For More On How Baptist Health Achieved Success
Until then, here are a couple of links for you to learn more about our project and to get to know my client; Baptist Health. And, if you’re in need of healthcare, it’s my hope that you’re lucky enough to visit a place that cares as much about you as Baptist Health cares about the patients and communities they serve.
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