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A Virtual Lifesaver

In health care, more efficient use of IT can translate directly into better patient care; virtualization helped Christus Health boost that equation.

In 2006, Christus Health reached a painful peak in its server-processing capacity within our eight data centers and their associated space, electrical power consumption, and cooling capability. Within these data centers, nearly 500 IT associates were managing more than 600 host-based applications, 15,000 desktop devices, and 2,000 servers (70% of which were in the primary data center in San Antonio, Texas) for 30,000 users. We also had a rapidly growing server and application base and rising implementation costs.

Christus Health is a Catholic, faith-based, not-for-profit health system comprised of 380 services and facilities, including more than 50 hospitals and long-term care facilities, 175 clinics and outpatient centers, and dozens of other health ministries and ventures. Christus services can be found in 60 cities in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, and Utah, and in Chihuahua, Chiapas, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas, Mexico.

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As a result of the IT capacity crunch, it was getting difficult to deploy new applications and upgrade hardware without impacting business. Also, as more of our clinical care depends on our IT systems, service outages would affect more than just the business of health care operations--they would affect clinical care itself.

One of the key challenges hospitals face is the need to provide high-quality, efficient patient care while keeping hospitals and the rest of the health care system operating smoothly. Consider, for example, the variety of information that affects a patient's record: In addition to critical care information, there are financial records, demographic records, insurance claims, and inventory accountability. Behind all of these touch points are innumerable workflows and processes.

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