In less than three months, the University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), a new healthcare system formed by Poudre Valley Health System, University of Colorado Hospital and Memorial Health System, and one of the largest healthcare providers in Colorado, has fully migrated 17,000 mailboxes from three disparate healthcare organizations on multiple legacy email platforms into one single consolidated Microsoft Office 365 environment. Switching to a complete Microsoft enterprise subscription solution is expected to increase collaboration across UCHealth and save an estimated $13.9 million in overall costs throughout an 11-year period.
“The healthcare industry is generally hesitant to use the cloud because of security and HIPAA concerns,” said Steve Hess, chief information officer for UCHealth. “However, Microsoft’s strong commitment to data security, privacy and compliance with HIPAA standards, coupled with its willingness to sign a comprehensive Business Associate Agreement for Office 365, gave us the confidence we needed to overcome our cloud anxieties.”
UCHealth’s strategy was to integrate its legacy IT solutions into single solutions including its enterprise resource planning, electronic health records and email systems. UCHealth looked at a variety of vendors, including Google, but ultimately chose Office 365 because of its functionality and usability, and because it supports HIPAA requirements beyond what other vendors provide. In addition, UCHealth determined that Microsoft Corp. was a more strategic partner for both its long- and short-term IT and collaboration needs.
“When we decided to go with a subscription model, we knew we needed enterprise-class capabilities that offered strong support for all our needs, including offline editing, deskless workers and mobile devices,” said Fernando Pedroza, UCHealth’s vice president of Technology Services.
Differentiators for Office 365 range from enabling telework to promoting internal communications and cross-collaboration. The reliability and flexibility that comes from enablement of remote and mobile employees through the Office 365 SharePoint and Lync components, as well as Microsoft’s separate Yammer social media solution, appealed to UCHealth. With more of the healthcare workforce being mobile, and given UCHealth’s geographic spread, it was important to have additional tools available for remote collaboration and communication throughout UCHealth’s network. Specifically, Microsoft Office 365 Lync is being used to host meetings, share desktop presentations, and find appropriate individuals and expertise quickly and effectively. Meanwhile, Microsoft Yammer is being used to share information and project statuses, find expertise quickly, and celebrate organizational successes.
“In many ways, the healthcare industry is just scratching the surface of the potential applications of collaboration and social media tools,” Hess said, “but it is powerful to see how these tools are being applied, how they can drive real value to our workforce, and ultimately, how they can improve the quality of care and value for our patients.”