Healthcare IT Blog

Working Together on Infrastructure - A Technical Consultant’s Perspective

Published on 01/15/2013 by Mike Donahue
Category: Healthcare IT

A wise man (ok – it’s my boss – just looking to get some bonus points!) told me when I started in consulting that one of the biggest challenges is being the guy that comes in and repeats what has been said by the hospital IT staff for months, years etc. Of course you should begin looking to upgrade those old servers that now could be displayed in a museum, upgrade to the latest hypervisor release, and replace that old storage array that’s now EOL (end of life) and EOS (end of support).  Depending on the type of engagement, this can be a possible result.  On the surface it may seem like repeating what has been said forever:  “upgrade, upgrade, upgrade”.  Truth be told, technology is ever-changing and is in a very exciting place today.  Just as 10Gb Ethernet switching is making its way into healthcare IT as a standard we are suddenly seeing an interest in 40Gb and even 100Gb Ethernet.  As many of my colleagues have mentioned in previous blogs, investment in IT is more important now than ever before. Technology plays such a crucial role in the day to day operations of a hospital given the need to be operating at near 100% uptime.

Technology consultants cover a range of expertise in enterprise technologies such as VMware, VDI, Citrix, networking, BURA (backup, recovery, and archiving), and storage, to name a few.  However, what is the core service that your organization delivers to your end users?  Most likely it’s MEDITECH.  Configuring VMware for your typical enterprise applications can be fairly straight forward, especially where there are published design best practices for configuration and management for commonly-managed applications.  However, these best practices may not translate well into a MEDITECH environment.  This is where a technology consultant specializing in MEDITECH can get the most out of your infrastructure investment by optimizing the performance of each layer. It might be a little tweak, like setting up the proper DRS Affinity Rules within VMware, or a major change like adding additional paths to the hosts to support the traffic.

Back to my point…  Personally, coming from three community MEDITECH hospitals, I am very familiar with consultants being brought in to help troubleshoot performance issues or stand up backend infrastructure.  I understand the initial reaction of “I know how to do that” or, “that’s what I’ve been saying for months”.  I’ve always approached it from the opposite end of the spectrum.  “What can I take from this experience to make my day to day role easier?”   I encourage our customers to have a similar mentality. When Park Place consultants are engaged – whether it be on a health check of the environment, VDI pilot, performance troubleshoot, (the list goes on and on) – please feel free to ask us to show you how we did something, why we are doing it that way, or to take a look at a nagging issue that won’t seem to go away. We may not always have the answer right in front of us but I can guarantee that we can get it. One thing I didn’t expect to gain from consulting is how much I would learn from our customers. It’s a regular occurrence to work hand and hand with customers on projects, and I’ve learned a great deal from you.

If we have the chance to work together on a project, please feel free to ask as many questions as you want, and let us assist you as you work toward operational sustainability.  We’re here to help you!

Mike Donahue is a Technical Consultant at Park Place International.  He brings several years of varied, hands-on MEDITECH experience to his current role.  Mike started his career at Saints Memorial Hospital in Lowell, MA on the internal IT help desk.  At Franciscan Children’s Hospital, he moved into a Systems Administrator role, assisting with the MEDITECH C/S 5.6 implementation.  At Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital, a MAGIC hospital in New Hampshire, Mike was a Systems Administrator responsible for the MAGIC system and backups.  Mike also worked at Dell, responsible for Disaster Recovery testing and customer migrations.