Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.
Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013
Nominee: Clear Concepts from Winnipeg, Manitoba
Managed Services Solution description
There are many “remote” managed service providers across Canada, but we can accurately state that our managed services are truly remote. Because of the niche services we provide to over 100 remote communities, we have established a reputation among them as their reliable expert source for all IT requirements. In the case of our client from a secluded island in British Columbia, finding and maintaining reliable IT support can be difficult. Enabling the right technology solutions to meet the needs of a remote island community health centre can be even more challenging, but this is where our remote managed services really shine. A list of the customized managed services we provide for this client are: • Desktop/Laptop Computer Management • Hosted Exchange, Lync, and SharePoint • Remote Access Server Management • Messaging Service Management • Directory & Domain Management • File & Print Management • Network Device Management • Network Security (Firewall) Management • Website Design and Support • Hosted Secure Backups • Product Procurement and Deployment
What makes your Managed Services innovative or original compared to the competition?
Many of our remote community clients have come to us either through acquiring the Cowichan Tribe’s Mustimuhw cEMR (community electronic medical records), for which we are the sole authorized installer and support, or through word of mouth. The Hailika’as Heiltsuk Health Centre (HHHC) originally signed on with us for Mustimuhw installation and support in 2008, but with a managed service solution as of 2012, they have now become one of our top clients and one of our most efficiently remote managed sites. Through our association with the Cowichan Tribe, we have developed a solid remote/secluded client base that has allowed us to streamline our support and logistics systems with ultimate precision. We also have a cultural sensitivity to the needs of First Nations, which allows us to work effectively within their structure with a relationship of mutual trust and respect. We believe these are some of the attributes that set us apart from our competitors. In order to explain why our remote service solutions are different, we need to provide a bit of background about our client’s situation and location. The town of Bella Bella, BC is a small isolated island village located on Campbell Island, 98 nautical miles north of Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, and 3,000 km northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where Clear Concepts is located. It is home to the self-governing Heiltsuk First Nation with a population of 1,450. Our client, the Hailika’as Heiltsuk Health Centre (HHHC) has approximately 50 employees and provides medical services to the people on the island. Due to the remoteness of the island and the scarcity of qualified medical practitioners, the town was in need of a solution to provide better medical care to their people. That solution was Telehealth. Telehealth is a division of provincial eHealth services that uses videoconferencing and supporting technologies to connect patients with healthcare professionals across distances. It has become very popular and successful in remote areas, especially for the very young, the elderly, and those with advanced medical conditions requiring frequent visits. One of HHHC’s important functions is to provide patient transportation to Vancouver, approximately 480 km by air, for advanced medical diagnosis and treatment. A 24 hour trip for one patent’s airfare and accommodations can easily be $1,000 or more. Telehealth is the solution that eliminates the need for many of those patients to travel out of town for medical care. Think of the value to patients and their families to be able to be treated in their home community. How Clear Concepts was able to accommodate their ability to obtain Telehealth is addressed in the answers below. The reason our services go beyond the accepted norm is because of the established connection we have with our client. • We are able to supply them with all the products and services they need regardless of distance. • We supply managed services with true full remote capabilities including validation and automation of processes. • We have cultural sensitivity to their practices and traditions. • We streamline our logistics processes to provide greener and more cost-effective solutions for challenging physical and time-sensitive deliveries. • We ensure our staff are up-to-date on the features and benefits of Mustimuhw.
What were the benefits of your Managed Services Solution for your client and what evidence can you provide to show this?
Before HHHC signed up with remote service contracts for server/client support, they were having substantial performance issues with some new computer systems and asked us to determine the cause. We discovered their problems were related to outdated CAT5 cabling and 10/100base-t switches that drastically hindered speed and performance. During this time, they had been seeking approval for the Telehealth system that included connecting rooms in two separate buildings. Speed and consistent connectivity were absolutely essential for the Telehealth implementation and therefore could not be approved until the network became functional at an acceptable performance level. HHHC notified us on August 17, 2012 that they received funding approval for Telehealth and the network enhancements. This was a time-sensitive project as the Telehealth implementation, along with a Mustimuhw upgrade, were both scheduled to take place during the second week of September. We delivered the equipment and technicians to the remote island to perform cabling upgrades, wireless building interconnectivity, and Juniper switch replacements which were all completed on August 31, 2 weeks ahead of the deadline. Subsequent diagnostics indicated a network performance increase of 200%. They now have access to seven provincial Telehealth authorities for onsite education and training, medical advice, and consultations. The medical services they provide now include Telepsychiatry, for which treatment was non-existent prior to the upgrade. Patients no longer have to travel by air to Vancouver for consultations or treatment, saving the clinic over $150,000 annually, and staff receive the benefits of enhancing their medical knowledge through remote-based training. After the upgrades, HHHC was very pleased that the new Telehealth system was working extremely well. In November, 2012, they contacted us to request remote management of their entire network with full managed services including secure remote data backup. This included a remote conversion to managed Hosted Exchange from a basic IMAP mail connection from a local ISP, as well as the setup of new Lync and SharePoint services – all performed remotely from Winnipeg. This was all completed by the end of the month. The Lync messaging module further enhanced their ability to communicate and collaborate more effectively with other members on patient care without relying on the previously unproductive voicemail communication. We were delighted that they put their trust in us to manage their network for them and we stepped up to the challenge to provide true “remote” services to our client over 3,000 km away.
What are the main reasons that your Managed Services are better for the customer than an on-premises solution?
According to HHHC’s IT Manager, he is most impressed with how affordable managed services are and the value it brings to their organization. He appreciates the honest and up-front approach when he requests technical advice and is reassured that he always has a familiar team available to keep their facility up and running. “It’s like they’re right next door.” Another added benefit for the island facility is that they now have access to the knowledge and expertise of eight technicians. Prior to engaging with us, they did not have anyone who was skilled on staff to provide them with the advice and variety of services they required. The managed services we provide also allow our team to be proactive at responding to alerts and potential network issues. We are able to restart equipment and troubleshoot any helpdesk problem remotely. Without regular reliable support, travel, diagnostic, and repair time would take much longer and costs could be substantially higher on a reactive basis, especially given the remoteness of their location. We have tremendous respect for healthcare providers, especially those in remote communities where access to essential services and support can be extremely limited. We understand their needs and do our part by supplying the services that empower them to become independent medical experts providing the best health services to their local communities.
How did the Managed Service improve the customer’s ability to server its internal or external clients?
Since the implementation of Telehealth, HHHC is now able to offer their community members the option to conduct doctor visits through videoconferencing instead of travelling to Vancouver. They now have access to the resources of seven provincial Telehealth authorities for onsite education, training, medical advice, and consultations. They were also able to introduce Telepsychiatry which was a required service and a field of expertise that was non-existent in their community until now. Many elderly and disabled patients prefer the less stressful Telehealth option as they are able to get the care they need without the anxiety of travelling and being away from their home. HHHC sends an average of 50 to 60 patients to Vancouver each month, at a cost of approximately $800 to $1,100 per person. They anticipate Telehealth will decrease their travel expenses by approximately 25% within the first year, saving over $150,000 annually and increasingly more once patients become more comfortable with the concept.
How does the solution further your client’s green or environmentally friendly plans?
HHHC realizes that these frequent flights are also harmful to the environment. By implementing Telehealth, HHHC will be able to decrease fuel emissions through reducing fuel consumption by almost 73,000 litres per year (saving 171,000 kg of carbon emissions). They are also able to further reduce fuel consumption by inter-networking the two local facilities, which means less travel by doctors, nurses, and staff between buildings. The computers used at HHHC are all enabled with vPro. By using this technology, our client conserves energy by turning computers off when not in use, but they still have peace of mind knowing machines will be updated and/or fixed without any user intervention required. Our client also has an internal program where they arrange to reprocess all recyclable products such as cans, plastics, toner cartridges, and any old office equipment. They avoid using landfills at all costs. Culturally, environmental preservation is especially significant to First Nations’ people. They believe it is important to “respect the Creator’s gifts” and it is expected that “each person do their part to sustain the natural beauty of the land.”