Q: Can you tell us about Grady Health System and who you serve?
Yearick: Grady Health System provides healthcare services for the residents of greater Atlanta, Georgia. Grady Memorial Hospital is an internationally recognized teaching hospital that operates the only Level-1 trauma center in the Atlanta area and provides state-of-the-art burn, stroke, and asthma care. In addition to Grady Memorial Hospital, Grady operates a Primary Care Center, eight Neighborhood Health Centers, and specialized centers for diabetes and cancer.
Q: What were some of the challenges Grady faced that led it to adopt an online services model for its messaging and collaboration infrastructure?
Yearick: In 2008, Grady began a significant upgrade of its hospital facilities, operations, and IT infrastructure, including the installation of both a comprehensive electronic medical records (EMR) system and an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system dependent on workflow across the entire organization. In the middle of all this, our aging email system messaging environment was down at least once a week; we had one full-time staff person who had to spend at least half his time dealing with it. We also had trouble coordinating basic functions like calendars and contacts, which made it more difficult to collaborate with the partners that were helping us develop our EMR system.
We already had so many priority-one projects to finish that the complexities of building the tiered messaging environment we needed would have been extremely challenging. We couldn’t afford to let anything fall through the cracks, so the idea of relying on somebody else to manage our messaging infrastructure became very attractive to us.
Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Online Services over the other solutions that you evaluated?
Yearick: We evaluated several cloud-based solutions from several vendors, but it was important to us that the relationship truly was a relationship, and not just a sale. Our Microsoft account representative was absolutely engaged in building a strong relationship and providing support and feedback when we needed it. We just didn’t get the same type of enterprise-level response from other vendors.
After the experience we had with our aging email system, using a messaging solution that few other enterprises used, we wanted technology that was familiar and widely accepted. It is difficult to support an enterprise if you’re using technology that other businesses don’t. We felt that going with Microsoft Online Services was the best choice to stay ahead of the technology curve without getting isolated on the outer fringes.
Q: What kinds of benefits are you experiencing by using Microsoft Online Services?
Yearick: Modern employees just expect their email to work, but that was not an assumption we could support before. Now we can use Exchange Online from Microsoft Online Services to deliver email service that our employees can take for granted. That’s how messaging should work. Teams collaborating on projects can use Office Communications Online instant messaging and Office Live Meeting web conferencing to stay coordinated, and by providing our employees with a full set of messaging and collaboration capabilities, we have seen a significant increase in efficiency. Department leaders regularly tell me how much better the messaging situation is.
Please tell us what considerations you would have in moving management of your messaging infrastructure to the cloud.