McKesson Provider Technologies - 2007 Red Hat Innovation Award Winner

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January 10, 2008

Customer: McKesson Provider Technologies

Geography: North America
Country: United States


Solution:

Selected for being the first company to employ the Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform to integrate its varied healthcare software applications on one unified platform, saving approximately one million dollars in combined software and hardware costs and allowing the company to provide a more robust and enterprise-ready solution for patient care.

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Background:

McKesson Provider Technologies is a $2.6 billion division of McKesson Corporation, the largest United-States based corporation specializing in the distribution of healthcare systems, medical supplies and pharmaceutical products. It is the 16th largest company in the United States and the single largest health care company in the world. McKessonand#x2019;s products and services are designed to meet the information needs of all participants in the integrated health system.

Business Challenge:

 

Over time, McKesson has accumulated 23 applications to help address various in-hospital needs. Each application is on a separate architecture. The company’s goal in this project was to have one large enterprise architecture with a common operating system, common set of databases, while continuing their reputation to deliver high-quality healthcare by reducing costs, streamlining processes, and improving the quality and safety of patient care.
 
As a patient enters the emergency room, doctors and nurses have no way to know everything about a patient – the medications they take, the operations they have undergone, etc. McKesson saw the importance in truly knowing everything about a patient and thus wanted to fix this disconnect by creating a messaging system that links to different hospitals, pharmacies and other healthcare systems to help organize a patient’s continuum of care. With this messaging system, a doctor or nurse can see a complete medical history of the patient, giving them the ability to deliver a better quality of care. As a result of bringing together these applications, caregivers in the healthcare industry can log in to an operating suite and all the documentation on a particular patient will flow back into messages from the clinical systems. Through this project, all aspects of the continuum of care of patients will be linked and a patient’s complete story will unfold for doctors and nurses.
 
McKesson faced a number of technical and business challenges in its project to integrate all of its healthcare software on one platform. One technical challenge came with the migration from mainframe Unix to Linux solutions. The migration itself was not difficult, but convincing the industry it was ready for this change proved challenging. With this change in mind, McKesson had to alter the mindset and education of its customers worldwide. Its customers previously were expected to be knowledgeable about Oracle management applications. Now each must be Linux trained and Oracle-on-Linux trained too.
 
McKesson also faced a great business challenge. Today, customers from hospitals buy hardware with the knowledge in 3-5 years the hardware will need to be updated or replaced. An example of this depreciation rate is a customer who purchased mainframe hardware just two years ago still only has about three good years of usage left on their systems. McKesson faced the challenge of showing an return on investment for why customers like this should move to a new solution faster, even with a balance of three years on their previous system still available.
 
Also, from the perspective of the industry as a whole, the world of healthcare is very risk-adverse. Daily interactions with patients are critical and can involve life-or-death situations. To change an already functioning system and process takes a lot of convincing. It also takes time to determine that the new system does not have any adverse affects that could alter patient care. The healthcare community has been using Unix for over 20 years. It’s hard for this community to understand that Linux offers the same support as Unix and can be equally as efficient. McKesson was challenged with ensuring community comfort with this change.
 
Prior to this project, McKesson was already employing Red Hat solutions in isolated areas throughout the company. Red Hat was the Linux solution ingrained in the minds of McKesson employees and had always provided very cost-effective ways to get customers moving forward quickly. McKesson had a good, standing relationship with Red Hat and had already enjoyed a superior product in other areas of its business. Red Hat was offering superior education and support opportunities for what McKesson needed for its current project. In addition to Red Hat, McKesson also chose to work with JBoss solutions because they were less expensive and still offered equal, if not better, solutions in comparison to other commercial applications on the market.
 
In February 2007, McKesson was the first to take advantage of the Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform. The platform packages the Red Hat suite of open source products and services, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux updates via the Red Hat Network. It also includes dedicated customer support and services, as well as other open source technologies such as JBoss Enterprise Middleware. This complete solution provides superior levels of stability and performance as well as predictable maintenance cycles. The Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform fits seamlessly with McKesson’s commitment to product quality and customer service.
Solution:

 

McKesson desired a solution that included clinical care applications running on an open OSS stack, using industrial grade systems. They needed a system to enable safe an efficient care. Mandatories include reliability, scalability, manageability, cost effective, highly flexible and built for ‘what’s next’.

Red Hat and JBoss products are the cornerstone of the chosen McKesson solution. McKesson is the first company to adopt the Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform. The company was able to overcome its business and technical challenges because of the flexibility of this Red Hat solution. Because of the ability to run Linux on most environments, McKesson was able to subset to put multiple Red Hat sessions on its boxes. Also with Red Hat’s flexibility, McKesson was able to use its existing hardware.

With Red Hat and JBoss solutions, McKesson had the ability to interoperate with all of the applications that were interfaced and not integrated. Now, McKesson has the ability to integrate its applications without having to change all of the code, rewriting as all one application. All information about a patient’s full medical history is now available to healthcare workers who are treating this patient.

McKesson gained value across the board as a result of implementing Red Hat solutions. Prior to implementing Red Hat, McKesson was supporting multiple varients of Unix, which caused the company to spend time and resources testing products on each individual version. After migrating to Red Hat, internal efficiency was gained because the company no longer had to continue buying mainframes and did not have to test products on so many systems. There was now one test on one product. Now, McKesson can reuse and reprovision its capital needs more effectively. McKesson engineers all speak the Red Hat – JBoss language and that common language has been incorporated across the company.

McKesson customers include hospitals and healthcare providers of all sizes, so hardware is not consistent across customers and varies between each hospital. The company does have 5-6 different Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Oracle racks for database tiers. There are also 5-90 application servers involved, depending on the size of the hospital. McKesson’s architecture takes advantage of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, JBoss, and Hibernate.

McKesson has enjoyed excellent support and services from Red Hat and JBoss. Whenever training was needed, Red Hat was able to provide personal help within a day’s notice. On one occasion, Red Hat even flew engineers out to a McKesson customer when on-site help was necessary.

Prior to the Red Hat – McKesson engagement, McKesson was a BEA shop. As the company compared BEA to JBoss, it found that JBoss offered better support and better turn around time for defects within the JBoss community. One time in particular, JBoss turned around a McKesson issue in less than two days. Another vendor took almost four months to provide the same solution.

Benefits:

 

Over time, McKesson has accumulated 23 applications to help address various in-hospital needs. Each application is on a separate architecture. The company’s goal in this project was to have one large enterprise architecture with a common operating system, common set of databases, while continuing their reputation to deliver high-quality healthcare by reducing costs, streamlining processes, and improving the quality and safety of patient care.
 
As a patient enters the emergency room, doctors and nurses have no way to know everything about a patient – the medications they take, the operations they have undergone, etc. McKesson saw the importance in truly knowing everything about a patient and thus wanted to fix this disconnect by creating a messaging system that links to different hospitals, pharmacies and other healthcare systems to help organize a patient’s continuum of care. With this messaging system, a doctor or nurse can see a complete medical history of the patient, giving them the ability to deliver a better quality of care. As a result of bringing together these applications, caregivers in the healthcare industry can log in to an operating suite and all the documentation on a particular patient will flow back into messages from the clinical systems. Through this project, all aspects of the continuum of care of patients will be linked and a patient’s complete story will unfold for doctors and nurses.
 
McKesson faced a number of technical and business challenges in its project to integrate all of its healthcare software on one platform. One technical challenge came with the migration from mainframe Unix to Linux solutions. The migration itself was not difficult, but convincing the industry it was ready for this change proved challenging. With this change in mind, McKesson had to alter the mindset and education of its customers worldwide. Its customers previously were expected to be knowledgeable about Oracle management applications. Now each must be Linux trained and Oracle-on-Linux trained too.
 
McKesson also faced a great business challenge. Today, customers from hospitals buy hardware with the knowledge in 3-5 years the hardware will need to be updated or replaced. An example of this depreciation rate is a customer who purchased mainframe hardware just two years ago still only has about three good years of usage left on their systems. McKesson faced the challenge of showing an return on investment for why customers like this should move to a new solution faster, even with a balance of three years on their previous system still available.
 
Also, from the perspective of the industry as a whole, the world of healthcare is very risk-adverse. Daily interactions with patients are critical and can involve life-or-death situations. To change an already functioning system and process takes a lot of convincing. It also takes time to determine that the new system does not have any adverse affects that could alter patient care. The healthcare community has been using Unix for over 20 years. It’s hard for this community to understand that Linux offers the same support as Unix and can be equally as efficient. McKesson was challenged with ensuring community comfort with this change.
 
Prior to this project, McKesson was already employing Red Hat solutions in isolated areas throughout the company. Red Hat was the Linux solution ingrained in the minds of McKesson employees and had always provided very cost-effective ways to get customers moving forward quickly. McKesson had a good, standing relationship with Red Hat and had already enjoyed a superior product in other areas of its business. Red Hat was offering superior education and support opportunities for what McKesson needed for its current project. In addition to Red Hat, McKesson also chose to work with JBoss solutions because they were less expensive and still offered equal, if not better, solutions in comparison to other commercial applications on the market.
 
In February 2007, McKesson was the first to take advantage of the Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform. The platform packages the Red Hat suite of open source products and services, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux updates via the Red Hat Network. It also includes dedicated customer support and services, as well as other open source technologies such as JBoss Enterprise Middleware. This complete solution provides superior levels of stability and performance as well as predictable maintenance cycles. The Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform fits seamlessly with McKesson’s commitment to product quality and customer service.

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