posted: March 01, 2018
Hamilton Health Sciences is a family of seven unique hospitals, a cancer center and an urgent care center serving more than 2.3 million residents in and around the city of Hamilton, Ontario. With a staff of approximately 11,000, the hospital is the larges
Hamilton Health Sciences is a family of seven unique hospitals, a cancer center and an urgent care center serving more than 2.3 million residents in and around the city of Hamilton, Ontario. With a staff of approximately 11,000, the hospital is the largest employer in the Hamilton region, providing excellence in education and research through its affiliations with McMaster University and Mohawk College.
The Challenge: Contending with a major decrease in operating budget
In the province of Ontario, healthcare budgets are under constant pressure. With an aging population, a shortage of doctors and an estimated 140,000 new patients moving to the province every year, hospitals face the considerable challenge of using ever-smaller operating budgets to maintain high levels of service. These constraints can be especially tough on IT teams. At Hamilton Health Sciences, for example, the IT organization must contend with a two percent decrease in its operating budget, all while keeping pace with the latest technologies and delivering hundreds of applications to thousands of users across multiple campuses.
The Solution: Delivering IT as a service to hospitals throughout southwest Ontario
Hamilton Health Sciences has been working with Citrix technology for more than a decade. At first, the organization turned to Citrix XenApp to help deploy and manage a growing number of clinical and business applications. Then, as state healthcare budgets continued to shrink, the organization found it increasingly difficult to replace aging hardware. That's where Citrix XenDesktop came into play, making it possible to deliver current versions of software on older machines. As a result, the IT team was able to minimize capital expenditures while maintaining a high level of service.
With those Citrix technologies already in place, Hamilton Health Sciences was perfectly prepared for the massive proliferation of personal mobile devices in the years following the introduction of the Apple iPhone and iPad. "We had a bring-your-own-device [BYOD] environment long before BYOD was cool," jokes Mark Farrow, vice president and chief information officer at Hamilton Health Sciences. "Before the iPad was available in Canada, one of our physicians went across the border and brought one back from the U.S. He wanted to use the device on our network, and we were able to accommodate that request with no issues. We had him up and running in under 24 hours."
Yet even with those successes, IT budgets just kept getting smaller, and Farrow was running out of options. "There was nothing left to cut," he says. "We were faced with the prospect of cutting our IT staff, and we had such strong, knowledgeable professionals on our team that I didn't want to dismantle what we had built. Instead, I decided to make the most of our strengths. That's when we transformed from an internal department to a service organization called Health Information Technology Services [HITS]."
Today, HITS delivers IT as a service to healthcare organizations across southwest Ontario, connecting 50 hospitals and 4,000 providers through a web portal called ClinicalConnect. This enables clinical care providers to access patient records quickly and securely, delivering superior patient care while maintaining strict compliance with government regulations around patient privacy. Farrow and his team rely on Citrix XenServer to manage a cloud infrastructure capable of delivering virtual desktops and applications anywhere in the province. All of this is fronted by Citrix NetScaler application delivery controllers, each capable of running up to 20 virtual load balancers within a single physical chassis.