Modernizing IT at the Edge Helps Save Lives

Modernizing IT at the Edge Helps Save Lives

This post originally appeared on Dell Technologies, May 12, 2021.

Dell Technologies helped Sentara modernize IT at the edge and in the data center, improving healthcare outcomes and efficiency.

For healthcare providers, digital transformation and modernization don’t just lower costs and increase efficiency; they also help shave critical seconds off response times to save more lives and better protect health. That’s why Sentara, a large regional healthcare system with 300 locations in Virginia and North Carolina, was seeking to modernize and extend advanced IT capabilities to the edge.

According to Rob Jaecques, Operations Manager at Sentara Healthcare, the healthcare edge is all about people: “I think from a human element, you’re looking at faster response time on the patient care side. So, nurses can pull up their information faster, the doctors can get into charts and records and the electronic medical records data quicker and more efficiently.”

Matt Douglas, the Chief Enterprise Architect at Sentara, agreed, saying “with a stroke patient, you have seconds and minutes for changing a life. Leveraging new, modern solutions that perform at rapid pace…it’s life changing. [Running] a stroke application at the edge is the way to go, because it’s sub-millisecond response- times, reading images of brain x-rays. That impacts human life.

Matt set out to find an edge solution that would enable better performance for latency-sensitive applications at the patient’s bedside. For the project, Matt knew he needed a technology partner that could help him carry out his vision of a hybrid cloud environment capable of supporting multiple edge locations, while integrating with the company’s current cloud investments. After weighing his options, Matt chose Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes with Dell EMC PowerEdge R640 Servers for the edge and Dell EMC PowerEdge 940 Servers for the main data center, using VMware® vSAN® to deploy virtual servers across environments.

“The flexibility of leveraging the Dell PowerEdge servers, it’s like getting a Ferrari,” said Matt. “Bringing on the PowerEdge R940s in the main data center…gave me a several-million-dollar cost reduction…I spent less money and I got better performance out of it.”

That added performance paid off right away. Matt and his team noticed that support calls from edge locations dropped dramatically. The IT staff used to receive numerous support calls from users. The new infrastructure supports 13,000 to 15,000 user sessions, and Matt reports “now the nurse is happy, the patients are happy because they’re not having to do their treatment for a second time. I went from having multiple calls a week to having zero calls once we put that application out on that edge infrastructure.”

In addition, Matt was able to lower the IT footprint in the data center and keep it small at the edge. He says “Reducing the footprint in a hospital is money, cost, performance. Now, what we put at the edge sits on my desk it’s revolutionizing the way we treat patients.”

To streamline and simplify IT management across multiple edge locations, Matt and his team leveraged the Dell EMC OpenManage Enterprise with Dell EMC iDRAC and VMware vSphere®. According to Rob, “it’s been nice to be able to deploy one strategy, one solution with the Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes.”

Matt summed it up by saying, “One of the things is Dell has really become my partner, from the desktop all the way to the storage all the way to virtualization of the infrastructure…I want to be in there, helping humanity by leveraging technology…today we have an opportunity to change human lives and the care of other humans…Leveraging new, modern solutions that perform at rapid pace…it’s life changing.”


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