OSU Medical Center uses automation for digital transformation

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Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University strives to be a prestigious leader in the medical industry. The task of providing quality healthcare to thousands of patients is a big undertaking, but the medical center has turned to its network to help in the process.

Wexner Medical Center aims to be one of the top 20 academic health centers in the nation and to provide breakthrough health services, according to Siji Atekoja, CIO and Deputy CTO of OSU Wexner Medical Center. To achieve this goal, the organization aims to improve efficiency at lower cost. That’s why digital transformation has become a priority across Wexner Medical Center. strategic plan.

Despite the progress Wexner Medical Center has made through its digital transformation strategies, Atekoja said one problem remains: network complexity. Wexner’s previous network environment included various configurations based on different devices, which complicated management. IT staff had to manage a myriad of devices and data with little visibility into the network environment.

Adding to the complexity, Atekoja said the organization is actively expanding its facilities and locations, making a scalable networking strategy essential for businesses. In fiscal 2022 alone, Wexner Medical Center handled more than 24,000 employees, 58,000 new patient admissions, more than two million outpatient visits, and more than 165,000 telehealth visits.

The scope of the facility continues to grow every year, Atekoja said. A projected increase could mean thousands of additional patients and staff for the hospital to support.

This growth, along with the fact that human error has caused major network failures in the past, prompted Wexner Medical Center to implement Gluware’s network automation services. According to Atekoja, Gluware’s services — which include products that support security, network automation and digital transformation — align well with Wexner’s initiatives.

“The platform aligns with our strategic IT pillars, such as cost reduction, speed of execution, stability and security,” he said.

Atekoja said that while Wexner Medical Center has network automation strategies in place, the goal was not to replace network professionals with automation — a common concern about automation. Rather, the goal was to minimize the time professionals spend working on mundane tasks that are better suited to automation. Instead, network professionals could spend time working on projects that further support the organization’s digital transformation goals.

Siji Atekoja, CIO and Deputy CTO of Wexner Medical Center, presents at the UNOG Fall 2022 Conference in New York.

The Role of Network Security in Healthcare

Security and resilience, two widely discussed topics at UNOG, are also central to Wexner Medical Center’s concerns, Atekoja said. The organization implemented a zero trust framework for a comprehensive approach to security. According to Atekoja, a successful security approach can reduce the number of threats that occur and improve network availability, thereby reducing fatality rates for the medical center.

Part of that approach, he said, includes the ability to secure patient applications early on. This minimizes the risk of network outages that could interfere with symptom detection. The ability to detect failure is key to saving lives, he said.

UNOG Fall 2022 Conference Recap


IoT Enabled Devices for Healthcare

The pandemic has given rise to a new proactive healthcare paradigm focused on digital care, which is further supported by the use of process automation tools, according to Atekoja. Before the pandemic, patients received treatment in a hospital after noticing symptoms, in what Atekoja called a reactive, disconnected approach.

Today, however, process automation tools can combine the patient, provider, and employee experience into a single, connected approach. One use case in particular, which Atekoja called people-centric technologygives patients their medical results instantly through a tool like MyChart.

“Now the power is with the patient, that is, who owns the data,” he said. “It’s always been a big question in healthcare. It comes [from] connected experience.”

Atekoja said suppliers can also equip healthcare workers with all-in-ones IoT enabled devices for healthcare that support multiple use cases. A device can include many features, such as making phone calls, helping with lab administration, and measuring vital signs.

Network Automation Deployment Strategy

These use cases show the potential of network automation in a digital transformation strategy. Wexner Medical Center has yet to fully roll out its network automation strategy, but is using a three-phase journey. Atekoja said these three phases are:

  • Phase 1: Understand the network environment. Network professionals must understand the different configurations of the network environment to deduce the tasks to automate and understand the behavior of the network.
  • Phase 2: Develop automation. When network professionals understand the environment and recognize the configurations to automate, teams can extend automation controls to devices.
  • Phase 3: Deploy large-scale automation. Network process automation tools, such as the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Product from Gluware, helps network professionals deploy process automation at scale.

Wexner Medical Center currently has more than 100 RPAs deployed, Atekoja said, and is working on an end-to-end network automation strategy.

During the process of deploying automation in the network, Atekoja said organizations should recognize that different applications and tools provide different value. When network professionals use an automation tool that focuses on a single aspect of the network, they are likely to analyze a specific area rather than looking at the entire perimeter. Atekoja said that end-to-end automated networking platform analytics help teams accurately monitor network performance.

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