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Long-term care firm finds security in cloud computing

A long-term care provider turned to cloud computing to shore up security and boost application performance. Here’s the rundown:

The Problem

The IT situation at Creative Solutions in Healthcare was pretty dire two and a half years ago. When CIO Shawn Wiora came on board he found alarming security issues. The company’s out-of-date Windows Server 2003 machines were out of synch with current security protocols. Patch management as a formal program was practically nonexistent. There was very little documentation of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. “From a security perspective, it was a ticking time bomb,” Wiora recalled. IT performance was also an issue with slow electronic health record (EHR) system response times.

The Technology

Wiora noted a disconnect between the state of IT and Creative Solutions’ passion for patient care. The company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, runs more than 49 skilled nursing and 13 assisted living facilities. The CIO determined cloud computing would let the IT side catch up with the rest of the company. The company selected VMware’s vCloud Air, an infrastructure as a service offering, as its core cloud computing technology. VMware, Wiora said, was open to accommodating Creative Solutions’ security vision: A customized version of the Health Information Trust Alliance framework, which incorporates HIPAA, NIST and PCI among other security controls.

The Results

Incorporating the key frameworks into its cloud from the start put Creative Solutions on the proper security track. In addition, the cloud deployment improved the performance of applications such as EHR. Instead of a two-second lag, the company recorded round-trip latency in the 40-to-80 millisecond range. That’s an important plus for care delivery, considering caregivers at an individual facility use kiosk computers to record thousands of patient interactions daily. The company has also addressed internet outages, using Cradlepoint technology that fails over to 4G LTE in the event of disruption. “The company is now a phoenix out of the ashes in terms of IT,” Wiora said.