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Monitoring Tools Can Boost E-Health Record Systems Performance

Federal stimulus money is pushing health care providers to implement e-medical record systems, but keeping the technology performing to doctors' satisfaction is the larger concern.
At Detroit Medical Center, Compuware Vantage is used to monitor performance across 600 servers, IT infrastructure, and 300 clinical applications, said the medical center's CIO, Mike LeRoy.

"In the old days, IT was reactive, I'd wait for the call" from users reporting problems, he said. "Before it was, 'Oops my server just went down.' Now we have tools to stay two steps ahead."

DMC regularly runs simulated or mock application transactions to monitor how clinical systems are running, he said. "We correct problems before users complain, and if they do call, we're already addressing the issue," he said.

IT support staff overseeing the systems receive automatic alerts, including e-mails and pages, when Vantage detects a problem.

DMC started using Vantage to monitor performance of clinical systems a few years ago after the medical center's CEO launched a program to market 29-minute emergency department services. It's not uncommon for patients at other hospitals to wait for hours to be treated by busy emergency room staff, and DMC wanted to clearly set itself apart from that stereotype. Keeping DMC's emergency department promise to patients depends on the IT running smoothly, said LeRoy.

Systems problems -- such as radiologists having trouble viewing digitized images -- that in the past might've "taken hours to a week to pinpoint" can now be addressed often within an hour or minutes, said LeRoy. "Within minutes, we can get a vendor to come in and fix it," if it's a problem requiring outside help, he said.

Compuware also sells Vantage into other vertical markets, including telecom and retail, but the company's Vantage software for the health care market is tailored for the needs of clinical system monitoring.

Vantage pricing varies depending on installation, including the number of licensed beds a hospital has, said Compuware.


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