hospital IT needs

World-Renowned Children’s Research Hospital Fills Critical IT Needs to Accelerate Research

hospital IT needs
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Rapid Transition Process Strengthens Core IT and Unlocks Innovation

Challenge: Offshore Teams Stall Progress

One of the most prominent children’s research hospitals in the US was growing increasingly concerned over vendor performance: the current offshore IT provider had mishandled critical migrations and was unable to develop much-needed custom applications, resulting in clinical research delays and stalling the hospital’s ability to innovate.

While the low-price offshore model was attractive at first, the vendor’s inability to add value over time placed the hospital in a difficult position: continue to lose traction or find a new partner.

Rapid Transition Sets the Stage for a Stronger IT Foundation

AgileThought’s delivery model, a hybrid of onsite teams, US-based delivery, and nearshore development, provided structure for the rapid transition process, which included:

  • A trial project to set quality and delivery standards
  • Onsite collaboration and process transparency
  • A one-month knowledge transfer
  • Code quality improvement
  • The implementation of security measures such as PAM
  • Enhanced workflows – implementing correct use of version control software
  • Improved process efficiencies – accelerating production deployment

Results: Clinical Research Acceleration

Building on the foundation set by the Rapid Transition, the hospital was able to take advantage of further innovation opportunities through an ongoing, strategic partnership with AgileThought.

  • Improved quality with no added cost
  • 14X faster protocol migration
  • Reduced system maintenance costs by 50%
  • High-risk UTC updates for 54 critical applications
  • Custom application enhancements, automation, and advanced functionality
  • Stability across all IT systems with zero downtime
  • Clinical support & non-clinical support (after hours, nights, weekends)
  • An ongoing, seven-year commitment as a trusted partner

Rapid Transition | Fully Up to Speed in Months, Not Years

Rapid Transition allows organizations to successfully move away from underperforming vendors without sacrificing downtime or impacting customers. By the end of the process, your organization is better positioned to take advantage of further innovation opportunities. It involves:

  1. A multi-week onboarding session that includes:
    • clearly defined knowledge transfer processes
    • working with the incumbent vendor to determine improvement opportunities
    • onsite visits to learn critical business processes and best define outcome success metrics, including interviewing key stakeholders
    • a trial project to set quality and deliverable standards
  2. An assessment that provides:
    • ROI-based project prioritization
    • custom technology roadmaps
    • detailed project plans with timelines and deliverables
  3. An ongoing commitment to delivery excellence and continuous improvement measures such as
    • increasing automation across lines of business
    • building or improving agile and DevOps practices
    • transformation consulting

Rapid Transition Applied

The hospital CMIO rightfully questioned the Rapid Transition process. His experience with the underperforming offshore vendor had planted the seed of doubt, and he thought it would take years for the US-Mexico team at AgileThought to get up to speed.

As part of the Rapid Transition, AgileThought flew a team of twenty people to the research hospital for a five-week onboarding effort. They worked alongside the incumbent vendor to learn the hospital’s systems, processes, and culture. The team was able to completely support and maintain the code and activities that were being performed by the previous offshore vendor after onboarding.

Rapid Transition is not just about replacing a vendor. It is a method to continuously improve critical IT functions that support operations with measurable outcomes. In the examples highlighted here and for all AgileThought clients in professional services, finance, energy, retail, healthcare, and pharmacy, Rapid Transition is designed to add value by:

  • Adapting quickly to highly custom practices and systems
  • Learning key business processes
  • Applying an agile mindset to navigate complexity
  • Providing a thoughtful and consultative approach to sensitive projects

Clinical Research without Disruption

One of the largest projects in question was a migration and enhancement of the hospital’s clinical research system. The system is used to generate clinical trials, or protocols, and is the nerve center of research hospitals. Physicians, caretakers, and researchers rely on it to manage their programs. The children’s research hospital supports 47 departments and over 400 research protocols at all times.

Unlike other enterprise systems which follow business rules, this system carries the complexities of a large database and unique research programs. A simple enhancement or bug fix can throw the historic database off, and thus requires careful support and maintenance. Each research program requires access to track therapies, medication, and patient status. It was imperative that it meshed seamlessly with researcher workflows and not affect the overall ecosystem.

A Trial Project to Establish Quality Standards

As part of the Rapid Transition Process, AgileThought offered to start with a smaller, less impactful project to set quality standards. The project was a survey for children with specific diseases – run on an iPad application using the hospital database. The hospital tech lead was skeptical of the initial estimate, thinking (based on their experience with the offshore vendor) that it would fall short. However, our team met deadlines and quality expectations, built trust, and moved on to more critical projects.

Five Weeks to Fully Support the Hospital’s Largest IT System

The clinical research system is between twenty and thirty times larger than the other twelve systems AgileThought was asked to support. The prior vendor mishandled metadata, relationships, and mapping – compromising ongoing research projects. In addition, documentation was lacking. To get up to speed, our team spent the first few weeks of the project onsite learning the system alongside hospital tech leads.

Being onsite also gave tech leads a first-hand look at AgileThought’s work quality compared with the incumbent offshore vendor. Full-time AgileThought technicians were dedicated to support the system for six months. In addition, we supplied day and night shifts onsite, remote support from Mexico, and monitored nightly runs. These extra hours enabled the team to learn the associated research processes quickly and reassured hospital leaders that their clinical research timelines would continue on their terms.

A leukemia clinical trial, the largest and most visible protocol for the hospital, was successfully migrated in twenty-eight minutes. It had taken the previous offshore vendor over six hours to attempt to migrate the same protocol, and they were ultimately unsuccessful.

AgileThought, after only five weeks of onboarding, developed system enhancements that mapped research
phases, such as chemotherapy outcomes, providing transparency to researchers. After the migration, data was synchronized, allowing researchers work within a single system. The result was a successful migration nearly 14X faster than the previous vendor, who could not successfully manage a single protocol.

System Migration Comparison

Previous Vendor:

  • Migrated one protocol (only in testing – unsuccessful in production)
  • Development test took 6.5 hours to run

AgileThought:

  • Successfully migrated all 24 protocols
  • Production run took 28 minutes
  • 14X faster protocol migration
  • No increase in cost compared to offshore vendor
  • Cut maintenance costs in half

A Direct Comparison

No enterprise system should be subject to poor data management. One of AgileThought’s strongest assets is the ability to thoughtfully approach a problem, collaborate with clients, prioritize solutions, and implement them.

The following compares project structure between the previous offshore vendor and AgileThought.

Trusting AgileThought with Critical Upgrades & Application Development

The UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) upgrade was an extremely high-risk project. 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, in a worst-case scenario, patient care. Previous attempts by other vendors 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.

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

The team identified fifty-four applications in need of UTC updates. Due to the high operative risk of the task, hospital leadership 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.

Post deployment, 96% of the applications were running smoothly in just one week; the remaining 4% were updated shortly thereafter.

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

Custom Research Requires Custom Applications

Research hospitals require a customized approach in supporting their feature-rich applications: a single adjustment on a patient could generate a completely new treatment. The offshore vendor lacked the ability to support and maintain custom Cerner applications which the hospital’s clinicians relied on to adjust treatment and research campaigns.

AgileThought provided Cerner application enhancements, automation, and advanced functionality:

    • A scheduling dashboard to help the hospital identify where patients and staff need to be. The tool takes Cerner scheduling and displays it on large monitors across the hospital.
    • A diagnostic imaging tool that helps techs make sure that they are setting up the machines correctly, giving patients the right to dosages of dye, and performing radiation treatments with increased accuracy.
    • A tool that enables physicians to communicate the exact steps of treatment plans as they are generated or altered, as Cerner does not inherently adapt to custom treatments.

The hospital now benefits from a team working with Cerner Millennium, application customization and reporting. Due to our strong, ongoing relationship, hospital leaders are free to focus on research and patient care over system support and application development.

Who’s Managing Your Critical Projects?

There is no one-size-fits-all IT outsourcing solution. Every organization is unique. AgileThought’s Rapid Transition process is the fastest way to replace an underperforming incumbent, and our unique hybrid delivery model is the next step in the evolution of nearshore outsourcing.

 

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