Google Cloud Results
Consolidating vendors saves $150,000 in software costs
• Streamlines scheduling, saving supervisors 30 minutes a day
• Helps eliminate time spent on complicated vendor licensing
• Helps improve security by preventing sensitive data from being shared externally
Hurley Medical Center is an entirely paperless organization, one of only 6.4 percent of U.S. hospitals that have achieved the highest level (stage 7) of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) adoption model. Hurley implemented EMR adoption a few years ago to streamline operations, reduce expenses, and use data to help improve patient safety and outcomes. It's all in keeping with the nonprofit's mission: to provide the residents of Flint, Michigan with the best healthcare possible in part by leveraging advanced technologies and state-of-the-art facilities.
Until late last year, Hurley used on-premises productivity software applications and email servers. But that environment presented several roadblocks. "The productivity software and email server vendor's enterprise licensing agreement was expensive and overly complicated to comply with," says Casey Bryson, CIO at Hurley Medical Center. "They wanted us to have quarterly meetings just to review our licenses. I didn't want to spend my life understanding their licensing model. It's wasted time that I could spend trying to accomplish our mission." The vendor's software also didn't enable easy real-time collaboration on documents, hindered email access from some countries, and more.
Seeking a better alternative, Casey engaged cloud solutions provider Onix to help Hurley compare its on-premises vendor's cloud-based solution to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus. Onix organized and ran workshops designed to understand how Hurley employees used their current productivity applications and email system. "The workshops were one of the most valuable things Onix did for us in the beginning," Casey says. "They met with our teams in legal, nursing, human resources, and other departments to truly understand their requirements and show them what their workflows might look like in the cloud."
"Because Google Workspace is so intuitive, we don't spend time answering a lot of 'how to' questions. People just start using the tools and run with them." - Casey Bryson, CIO, Hurley Medical Center
The workshops helped convince Casey and his team to switch to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus. Hurley began the migration in 2018. It took about four months to transition 100 percent of Hurley employees — about 3,700 active users — to Google Workspace.
"With Google Workspace, our employees realized they could get their email and documents anywhere," Casey says. "They wouldn't be locked out of a document because someone else was using it. Their documents would integrate with their email, and when someone updated a document they were collaborating on, they'd get an alert. They could collaborate in real time. With all those benefits, it wasn't difficult to convince people to make the switch."
Easy to use, familiar tools
The transition to Google Workspace was easy for many employees who had already used the apps in other environments. "A lot of our new recruits aren't familiar with our former on-premises email and productivity software," Casey notes. "But most of them worked with Google Workspace in school, so they didn't need training and could start working right away. A lot of our executives already knew Google Workspace, too, because their kids use it in their schools."
Most Hurley employees found Google Workspace apps to be easy to use, even if they hadn't already used them. "Because Google Workspace is so intuitive, we don't spend time answering a lot of 'how to' questions. People just start using the tools and run with them."
Similarly, the Admin feature is intuitive to use. "We have a small IT team, and because the admin console in Google Workspace is easy to use, I don't have to waste the IT team's time asking questions about how the system is configured when I can look myself," Casey says. "I also don't spin my wheels trying to figure things out. Everything is easily searchable and there is a lot of documentation readily available."
Google Workspace has helped Hurley managers improve scheduling efficiencies. For example, the in-patient rehab team was using the former on-premises spreadsheet application to arrange staff schedules. The spreadsheets were printed and distributed to managers and employees. To streamline the process, Casey and his team created Sheets that, when filled out by managers, automatically populate shared Calendars that show when employees are available — eliminating a time-consuming, manual scheduling process.
In addition, schedules were previously manually written on large whiteboards in in-patient rehab units, so patients would know when they'll have their next physical therapy sessions. Now, the in-patient rehab team's schedules are displayed on a 75-inch TV via Chrome Sign Builder, a free Chrome digital signage app that displays on a screen content from a linked URL via a Chromebook or other Chrome device.
"With Google Workspace and Chrome Sign Builder, we no longer have to manually update and print staff schedules," Casey says. "No one has to walk over to another unit to look at their whiteboard because the schedules are easily available to them online. The supervisor of the in-patient rehab team saves about 30 minutes a day, just because everyone now has easy access to accurate information about schedules. And it's all HIPAA-compliant."
"Google Workspace consolidates so many applications in one place, which helps me dramatically reduce the time spent on budgeting, negotiating, shopping for, and performing security reviews of multiple vendors." - Casey Bryson, CIO of Hurley Medical Center
Google Workspace is helping Hurley improve scheduling efficiencies in other ways. "When you can integrate powerful tools easily, you can truly innovate in clinical areas," says Dr. Michael Roebuck, Chief Medical Information Officer at Hurley Medical Center. "For example, we're working on a project to better manage and eliminate patient no-shows in our clinics. In less than 30 minutes, we were able to integrate Sheets with Google Maps to automatically calculate the distance from our patients' homes to the facility where they are to be seen."
Eliminating the need for many vendors, saving time and money
The integration and extensive range of Google Workspace apps has enabled Hurley to eliminate multiple software vendor contracts, saving time and money.
"Google Workspace consolidates so many applications in one place, which helps me dramatically reduce the time spent on budgeting, negotiating, shopping for, and performing security reviews of multiple vendors," Casey says. "We're doing more with fewer vendors, which helps me stay focused on innovating."
For example, because Google Workspace integrates Google Meet, Hurley eliminated a separate video conferencing tool. And with Drive, there was no longer a need to pay for a separate file storing/syncing cloud service. "We've saved $150,000 in annual software costs because Google Workspace enabled us to eliminate other video conferencing and file syncing services," Casey says.
Proactively scanning and protecting sensitive data with DLP rules
Prior to Google Workspace, Hurley used software that scanned emails and files for sensitive content using Data Loss Prevention (DLP) rules as the content was sent. But with Google Workspace, integrated DLP rules proactively scan Drive files and Gmail messages and block those containing sensitive content from being shared with people outside the organization.
"With Google Workspace and integrated DLP rules, we can automatically prevent protected healthcare information, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information from going outside the organization, and we can put other restrictions on the data, such as not allowing content to be downloaded," Casey says. "We don't have to try to protect sensitive information after it is shared externally, which saves time and aggravation."
Using Chromebooks and BigQuery for savings and to enhance patient outcomes
As PCs dedicated to office tasks such as physician documentation begin to breakdown, Casey is pushing to replace them with Chromeboxes or Chromebooks to reduce costs and streamline device security. "Replacing just 20 percent of our PCs with Chrome devices could save us $300,000 because we wouldn't have to pay for antivirus software, third-party encryption, and other security software, and because Chrome devices are typically much less expensive than PCs," he says.
"We've saved $150,000 in annual software costs because Google Workspace enabled us to eliminate other video conferencing and file syncing services." - Casey Bryson, CIO of Hurley Medical Center
With the help of Onix, Casey and his team are also exploring new ways to use healthcare data in Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to improve the quality of care patients receive.
The neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) is one example. Children in the unit are connected to heart and pulse monitors 24/7. Data collected from the monitors is streamed constantly into Hurley's EMR system. Due to the overwhelming volume of data, only a small number of monitor readings — about eight per day — are entered into a patient's medical record.
"We have two billion lines of neo-natal monitoring data collected over the past two years," Casey explains. "Onix is helping us use BigQuery to make sense of our huge volume of data. We want to explore the utilization of continuous electronic vital signs in the NICU. With those insights, we're hoping we can give patients the best possible outcome as quickly as possible."
Along with Onix, Google has been an important partner for Hurley. "Unlike other vendors I've worked with, the Google team understands what's happening with productivity and collaboration as well as with telemedicine and the cloud," Casey says. "They understand our challenges and along with Onix, we're all truly working together to make healthcare better."
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*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.