Before its digital transformation Kinark Child and Family Services, a Markham, Ont.-based child mental health services provider, was not just behind the pack technologically — it was nowhere to be seen.

“They were using a legacy platform, with a 20-year old phone system, hosted locally at a data centre,” said Lynn Holloran, the Telus Communications account executive who nominated the company for ITWC’s ITWC’s Digital Transformation Awards, being held on June 14 in Toronto. (Note: Though nominations for this year are now closed, we’re covering every nominee that we’ve received in ITBusiness.ca ahead of the big event.)

“Kinark was in a serious rut, with multiple systems and using paper records as they managed clients,” Holloran said. “With several different carriers and suppliers to manage, Kinark’s IT department was forced to react to managing multiple partners and [come up with fixes on the fly,] just to keep the lights on.”

“Although the organization is data-driven, and the output of the data for children’s mental health is sought after, client care paperwork and clinical work was in several different places,” she continued. “Meanwhile, their information systems were antiquated and not well connected. Kinark’s board, executive, and technical team had a tremendous challenge on their hands.”

Kinark CIO Karim Ramji was convinced his organization could continue to be a healthcare industry leader in a high-speed world, keeping its commitment to children and youth even as it directed its energy toward being innovative and future-ready.

“They took a multi-year approach to IT transformation,” said Holloran. “I’m proud to say we helped them reinvent themselves. They took a hard look at how to best connect with their clients, and to use technology to better connect with them. This drove them to a digital strategy that is incremental in growth and dramatically improves the client experience. The end goal here was to be holistically driven and connected — connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), secure in the cloud, and with a digital workplace.”

Kinark sought advice from Telus around their antiquated infrastructure and IT processes. Telus’ team focused on understanding Kinark’s business, processes, and people, working with Kinark to right-size a solution, watching budgets, and ensuring there was no compromise on the tech level.

Telus collaborated with partner such as Apple, Cisco, Alayacare, and People Soft to come up with a next-gen Wave 3 cloud solution featuring: TC2 cloud voice services; Telus TC3 contact centre; IP networking; blazing-fast internet; Webex; email; Meraki firewalls; VPN security; fully managed VITILcare LAN/WLAN; SIP voice services; Mobility; Hosting; HR/payroll time and attendance; and a clinical information system for scheduling and medication management called KIDS5.

“We were able to centralize connectivity and infrastructure services, and ensure all ICT infrastructure needs are harmonized by one provider,” said Holloran. “This greatly benefits Kinark as lead agency as it gives the organization the ability to offer flexible services to hundreds of other Canadian agencies that need consolidation and managed services.”

“Kinark is now viewed as a lead agency and thought leader. The solutions they have in place will drive innovation and cost savings across hundreds, even thousands, of children’s mental health agencies across Canada.”

Pictured, left to right: Cynthia Weaver, VP, Strategic Initiatives, Kinark; Dr. Vicki Mowat, Senior Director, Planning and Research, Kinark; Dr. Laurel Johnson, Clinical Director, Community Mental Health Chief of Psychology, Kinark; Karim Ramji, Chief Information Officer, Kinark; Lynn Holloran, Account Executive, Healthcare, Telus; Cathy Paul, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kinark.

Kinark’s journey to digital transformation began with its strong board and executive team. With TELUS as a single provider of all IT voice/data, telecom, HR, financial, clinical information systems, and security, Kinark is in an enviable position as the IoT and cloud enter a boom period.

“With no need for large Capex or in-house resource investments, Kinark is seen now as a pioneer and thought leader in healthcare cloud solutions,” said Holloran. “They are believed to be the largest deployment of multiple cloud solutions in the Canadian healthcare industry driving change.

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