HCS Moves IBM i Health Care App to Connectria’s Cloud
November 12, 2013 Alex Woodie
Since 1969, Health Care Software (HCS) has been developing a suite of enterprise healthcare management applications that run on IBM‘s midrange platform, starting out with the System/3. Last year, HCS launched a software as a service (SaaS) version of its flagship offering. Instead of running the new business from its office building, the New Jersey company looked west to Connectria and its established private cloud environment for IBM i.
In mid-2012, HCS launched LTCH CARE Data Set solution, a SaaS offering designed to meet the needs of long-term healthcare providers, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation clinics. A key provision of the new offering is compliance with strict reporting requirements put in place by the Federal Government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As of October 2012, any long-term care facility not submitting data under the CMS’ new LTCH CARE Data Set requirements face a 2 percent penalty in Medicare and Medicaid payments.
The LTCH CARE Data Set is largely based on functionality HCS has developed in its flagship IBM i-based suite of clinical and healthcare financial software, dubbed Interactant. While HCS has demonstrated the requisite technical knowledge to develop Interactant, which has been deployed at more than 3,000 locations over 40-plus years, the company realized it didn’t have what it takes to host and run the systems for customers.
So the company set out to find a partner that could run the new SaaS offering in a private IBM i cloud environment. It settled on Connectria, a St. Louis, Missouri-based company that runs and manages IBM i LPARs for more than 100 companies, including names like Louis Vuitton, Things Remembered, Paramount Studios, Gulfstream, and Ansell Healthcare.
The decision to partner with Connectria was based largely on Connectria’s experience with the IBM i server. HCS is obviously familiar with the IBM i and Power Systems platform. But all too often during its search, it met people who couldn’t spell “i.”
“Even though we’re not the system admin, we’ve been around for 43 years. We know the System/38, ‘400, System i, and Power Systems,” Darren Yonkin, the CTO for HCS, says in a new case study posted to the Connectria website. “In talking with a lot of [cloud hosting] vendors, we felt we knew just as much as they knew . . . until we met Connectria.”
Security was a big concern for HCS. There is lots of personally identifiable information (PII) data involved and HIPAA violations and CMS fines are a real possibility. “As far as HIPAA compliance was concerned, it’s the difference between running it out of your garage versus a professional, certified data center,” said Tom Fahey, HCS president and CEO, in the case study. “Others were willing to sign a BAA [business associate agreement], but rather than us educating them, it was nice to have a partner in Connectria who had the requisite HIPAA hosting experience.”
It wasn’t feasible to turn HCS world headquarters into a hosting center. “We’re on the second floor of an office building,” Fahey said. “Though we have a controlled environment for our developers, it’s certainly not a certified data center equipped with raised floors, generators, and everything needed to support that type of environment. Besides, we’d rather focus our energies into developing, marketing, and supporting quality health care software, not managing severs, operating systems, and networks.”
By the time the LTCH CARE Data Set deadline hit in the beginning of October 2012, HCS already had more than 100 healthcare organizations signed up for its SaaS offering hosted by Connectria. This included Acadiana Management Group of Louisiana, LHC Group of Louisiana, Encore Healthcare of Maryland, LifeCare Hospitals of Texas, and Acuity Healthcare of North Carolina.
Connectria says that about half of HCS’ customers are hosted, a trend that should continue. The relationship between HCS and Connectria has gone “exceptionally well,” according to Fahey. “In my role as president, I don’t hear much about Connectria, which is great. No news is good news,” he says. “Since we’ve signed with Connectria, there hasn’t been a blip.”
To read the entire case study on Connectria’s website, see www.connectria.com/case_studies/hcs.php.