The move to shared IT services has led a Montreal-based hospital to simplify its desktop management and explore application service provider opportunities.

Verdun Hospital Centre Tuesday said it had selected Novell’s Netware 6 and ZENworks for Desktops 3 to manage its infrastructure. The hospital said it would use ZENWorks to remotely monitor workstation profiles, while Netware will run its file, print and directory applications, among other areas.

Verdun began planning a shared services approach with LaSalle Hospital in mid-2000. The two institutions merged in 1996, but difficulties combining the medical side of the organizations spurred Verun’s return to an independent service operation.

“”We have achieved a lot of savings on admin and support, but we had a lot of problems to integrate the clinical part of it,”” said François Lemoyne, Verdun’s director of finance and IT. “”We wanted to keep in balance both sites, but it was very difficult.””

Though the administration, finance, human resource and technical services are still common to both hospitals, Lemoyne said the seven-person IT staff can stretch only so far.

“”The fact that we had to move people on the two sites was very complex, especially because of the size of the organization,”” he said. “”It’s very small. We don’t have a very big team. We don’t want to invest too much, and if we don’t want to invest in manpower, we’ll have to invest in tools to make their job more efficient and easier.””

Novell Canada’s Quebec regional director Yves Morin said Novell owns around 17,000 of the total 45,000 seats in the Quebec health care market. Its most recent customer engagements include a project with Anna-Leberge Hospital Centre in Chateauguay, Que. and McGill University Health Centre, which has completed a 4,500-seat ZENWorks implementation.

“”It’s an integration from Windows NT 4.0 to Network 6,”” he said of the Verdun installation. “”It’s a comeback for those hospitals, because they want to spread the load between applications running on their NT and all the network — file and print, intranet, all of those important services.””

Verdun has about 500 PCs on its network. There are 250 desktops at LaSalle, which is about seven kilometres away. Verdun’s applications include SAP software for administration tools and MediSolution products for clinical work. SAP products are replacing about eight applications, including programs in the admission department.

“”It’s easier to share servers, solutions and all that,”” said Lemoyne. “”We’re running I’d say 98 per cent of the same applications (as LaSalle). By that, we have the benefit of running one application on two databases.””

Lemoyne said Verdun is working with Montreal-based CGI to have its SAP applications delivered ASP-style. “”The pricing model we like very much, but there is also the expertise for replacements and upgrades,”” he said. “”I want to avoid buying a new server for $200,000 when I’m not ready for it.””

Verdun’s next challenge will be to integrate the clinical and the admin part of its infrastructure in order to product case-costing, Lemoyne added. This will be handled through CGI.

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