Healthcare systems have undergone a transformation over the past decade, making greater strides in providing specialized care to patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities. This is part of the reason why Schlegel Villages, with locations throughout Ontario, Canada, designates its long-term care homes and residences as neighborhoods or communities.
Schlegel, which has 4,800 employees in 19 communities, is also undergoing a technological transformation by updating its wireless network technology to adapt to a electronic health record (DSE) and more mobile devices at the point of service. This IT modernization plan includes 1,600 access points from Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, and approximately 70 HPE switches to ensure that medical staff, residents and visitors have Wi-Fi access in communities as soon as possible. the moment they park their car.
The deployment is expected to be completed by mid-2018. Once completed, all of Schlegel’s healthcare teams will be able to use iPads and other Apple devices to remotely access medical records, and update and share information in real time.
In addition, this IT modernization includes a migration to Microsoft Active Directory so that IT can streamline authentication and user data management. Both projects demonstrate Schlegel’s desire to create a modern, flexible and scalable infrastructure, according to Chris Carde, IT director at Schlegel. We spoke with Carde about what these projects mean for Schelegel’s busy IT department and whether these technology upgrades are creating a cultural shift across the organization.
When not thinking of wireless networking technology, Active Directory and IPad integration, Carde can be found writing epic fantasy or enthusiastically sharing his geekier side with his three young daughters, all of whom are now Star wars fans who have been integrated into the ways of the Force.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What will new wireless networking technology help Schlegel accomplish?
Chris Carde: We wanted to install our point of service infrastructure, PointClickCare, a cloud-based EHR [software and service]. The first thing we needed to do was upgrade the internet connections, so we changed all of our fiber to the buildings to a dedicated fiber and then installed a higher density of rugged Wi-Fi access points. It’s about 97% complete.
PointClickCare has an app called Skin and Wound. If a resident is injured, healthcare workers can use tablets to take photos of the wound, upload them, and view the healing process. In addition, with Wi-Fi and iPads, medical teams are more mobile. They used to take notes, write them on a board, and then they had to go back to the nurses’ station to enter them into the system. Now they can interact more with residents thanks to the tablets. They can enter data from the bedside.
Our next project will be to integrate Active Directory into the wireless network, so that people can authenticate wi-fi using their Active Directory connections.
What will Active Directory do?
Card: Our current system runs Novell GroupWise and Novell eDirectory, and it is obsolete. We are in the process of decommissioning it and migrating to Microsoft Active Directory.
With Novell, in order to provide specific functionality to all end users, you must install another product for this to happen. that of Microsoft Group strategy is automatically part of Active Directory. So it’s a huge room where you don’t have to completely reinstall. It’s a faster process.
Microsoft is more organized and has a more hierarchical structure. The Active Directory implementation will help our IT modernization because it will be a cleaner interface. Imagine a folder containing 1000 files. What I’m trying to do is break it down into folders which are all self-explanatory – there will be a security group folder, a distribution group folder, and a user group folder, for example.
We recently completed the implementation of Active Directory in our first community. Some people were a little nervous at first because this is the change. But now they’re starting to see some of the powerful tools that come with all of this turnaround. So I can already see that they are excited that it should make their lives easier.
What made you want to take on IT modernization projects at Schlegel?
Carde: It was really a challenge. I’ve been here for almost two years, and it was more of a leadership role, which I had never done before. The fact that they wanted to leave Novell is exciting because very rarely do you go to an organization that doesn’t have Active Directory, and you can build it from scratch. I can design it completely, do it the way I always thought it should be built. So for me it’s always the exciting piece.
Even when I worked for companies that have Active Directory it worked well. But organizationally, the way it was designed was still a bit chaotic. There really was no rhyme or reason why they built certain things. So now I have the chance to build it and think about it properly. If it’s fair, I’m not sure. I’ll find out in six months.
Is Schlegel going through a cultural shift as a result of these efforts?
Carde: It’s a small IT department; we only have two full-time employees and two contractors. We have 800 users and we have so much work going on. A cultural change is definitely underway.
Often times here we wait for something to break and then fix it. My thinking is, why don’t we just put on the right equipment, and then we don’t have to worry about it breaking down? It’s a reactive environment, but I’m trying to change the culture to be more proactive.
The company has seen that with the growth to come, there will be a lot of money lost if nothing is working properly. If all of these projects start to bear fruit, then management will be happy. And if it saves them money, it makes them even happier.
What advice would you give to people who are just entering the networking business these days?
Carde: If someone wants to give you a task, take it. There are so many different IT elements, and the more you know, the more experience you have in many aspects, the better your chances of progressing. Try not to specialize [in specific technologies] fast enough.
What do you do when you are not at work?
Carde: I’m usually with my three daughters, either watching movies with them or trying to show them everything a normal, nerdy IT guy likes, like Star wars and the Lord of the Rings. So far, it works. We were recently at Disney World and they loved it all Star wars section.
My middle daughter is obsessed with Darth Vader. It’s a bit worrying. I’m like, ‘You know that’s the bad guy, right?’ She thinks he’s amazing. He’s pretty cool, I get it.