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Children’s Research Hospital Tackles an IT Time Zone Risk

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How AgileThought Leverages the Rapid Transition Methodology to Manage a High-Risk Upgrade


Children’s Research Hospital Tackles an IT Time Zone Risk

Details matter – especially in IT. Twenty years ago, the biggest thing on everyone’s mind was Y2K. This computer “bug” dealt with a single feature – how calendar data was formatted for date – yet it caused IT worries worldwide. The U.S. alone spent an estimated $134 billion preparing for Y2K, and another $13 billion on patches. Fortunately, world systems didn’t collapse, and we’re all still here in one piece.

A big part of Y2K is a detail that persists in IT today: time zone challenges. Most of us are familiar with the human constraints – realtime collaboration, communication, and cultural alignment all suffer when teams are not in the same time zone.

Time zone differences also impact technology – specifically, how date and time are stored and displayed across time zones. With 39 (and counting) time zones around the world, factoring in time zone conversions and offsets is not a reliable or practical solution.

UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), which is not affected by time zones, has been adopted as the standard for time tracking in software development and infrastructure management. The feature is especially helpful for hospitals that have facilities in different regions or countries and share the same digital time zone.

A world-leading children’s cancer research hospital faced a significant time zone issue when Cerner stopped storing date and time based on local time and upgraded to universal time, UTC.

The Challenge: A High-Risk, High-Stake Upgrade

Over the years, hospitals using Cerner have upgraded to a UTC storage format. However, this research hospital had not – a UTC upgrade was an extremely high-risk project for them. Any update could impact ancillary applications that pull data directly from the Cerner database: mistaken values, reports, and other sources of vital information about patients could be displayed incorrectly and therefore affect research or, worst-case scenario, patient care.

Previous attempts had taken far too much time and had to be rolled back. However, the update was critical, and when the UTC project became a top priority, the hospital’s IT department called in AgileThought.

it time zones nearshore

Mission Critical Projects Require a Digital Strong Approach

Dedicated Cerner resources are difficult to find. The hospital had established a partnership with AgileThought that included thirteen major IT projects, including Cerner management.

Leveraging the Rapid Transition Methodology, AgileThought was able to quickly deploy a hybrid team of nearshore and onsite consultants for thirteen weeks to perform everything from the initial assessment, code changes, tests, and validation, culminating with the final modifications released in production during one weekend (Go-Live).

During the assessment, the team identified fifty-four applications in need of UTC updates. Due to the high operative risk of the task, the hospital’s upper management decided that activating the disaster recovery protocol (DRP) was the safest course of action in case of severe or unexpected issues with the applications after/during the go-live weekend.
The week following production deployment, 96% of the applications ran smoothly (the other 4% required a bit of extra care – but are also now running strong). Our team acted on and resolved two application issues immediately.

I’m relieved because the AgileThought team is here; we know we are in good hands.” – Clinical Informatics Managing Director


AgileThought as Trusted Partners

It’s one thing to claim that you will do “whatever it takes” to help make a company successful; it’s an entirely different thing to actually deliver. The dedication of the AgileThought team, working onsite for months, ensured that there were no issues and no lapse in care for patients. So instead of worrying about the support and functionality of Cerner and its IT division, the hospital was able to focus on treating and defeating childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

Download The Success Story!

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