Healthcare innovation, powered by Microsoft Azure

Many organisations are leveraging the cloud to modernise and unify operations. Open Systems is working with Microsoft to help these businesses make the most of their migration

Paul Keely
By Paul Keely on 08 November 2021
Healthcare innovation, powered by Microsoft Azure

Working with Microsoft, we enabled a leading clinical research organisation (CRO) to maximise its use of the cloud to achieve ambitious business goals and save money in the process.

Our industry-leading clinical research customer has a vision to become a global healthcare intelligence partner. It is building a new application platform to expand its business model to support virtual care delivery and decentralised clinical trials. The new platform and real-world data and information solutions will deliver differentiated, decentralised and hybrid trial solutions to meet growing customer needs.

However, when the new chief technology officer (CTO) took the reins, he knew he had his hands full. His IT team spent all its time managing a patchwork of underpowered systems. While the organisation and its demands on IT services grew, its systems and infrastructure did not. And when public health is on the line, a patchwork of underpowered systems doesn’t measure up. It was time for a change.

The fractured infrastructure prevented the customer from meeting its goals of continuous innovation, technique exploration and new service delivery. Although Microsoft 365 E5 was a pillar of the company’s strategy, it had not optimised its E5 implementation. To expand the business model, the CTO decided to leverage the cloud and build a platform to support virtual care delivery and decentralised clinical trials. Before choosing a platform, he set out his desired attributes.

Firstly, all services needed to be provided by a well-integrated cloud platform instead of many different systems and suppliers. The new platform would replace poor integration and management silos with a simple-to-manage, easy-to-support and centralised solution.

Similar to many CROs, our customer has a cloud-first vision for all its services and trial programs. It has offices worldwide and its users are often mobile, working from home or within different medical facilities. Only a cloud platform would provide the required accessibility and easily reach, and service, all of its sites and users, regardless of where they work.

Compliance and security log data needed to be insightful, actionable and transparent to provide the necessary information to make decisions and take action.

Finally, the platform needed to integrate seamlessly with Microsoft 365 and support a security information and event management service to enable the full functionality of E5.

The CTO reviewed all the industry-leading cloud suppliers to find the best provider and chose Microsoft Azure as it met all of his criteria. He also appreciated that Microsoft understood the value of operationalising the firm’s technology and services. The team was pleased when Open Systems was invited to help support implementation and provide additional insights.

Microsoft and Open Systems provided the chief information security officer (CISO) and their staff with a clear vision of what the IT team could expect. They demonstrated how Microsoft’s 365 E5 and Azure Sentinel would work together to improve the business’s overall compliance, data protection, and security posture. The Open Systems team also identified opportunities to replace monitoring tools with Azure Monitor and consolidate compliance and security data onto Azure Log Analytics, which would reduce the number of suppliers and lower costs.

“Working hand-in-hand with Open Systems, we implemented a new cloud reality for this ­industry-leading clinical research organisation using Azure,” said Michael Perriello, account director of US health and life sciences at Microsoft. “This demonstrates how we can jointly help other healthcare providers in migrating to the cloud.”

To keep the cloud journey on track, Open Systems and Microsoft performed a cloud readiness and economic assessment using the customer’s real-world costs. The customer’s team was interested to learn that the Azure implementation would result in $2.5 million annual savings by eliminating existing applications and unnecessary data centres. Moreover, by optimising Microsoft 365 E5, several existing tools could be replaced by E5 tools, resulting in annual savings of $400,000 and a further reduction of suppliers.

The CTO, CISO and IT team have replaced a mishmash of solutions with an operationally efficient cloud platform. All compliance, data protection, and security services are now cloud based with Azure Sentinel, Azure Log Analytics and Azure Monitor. Microsoft 365 E5 is optimised and the customer is realising all the benefits. The new platform supports it worldwide and ensures that services are uniformly applied and centrally managed. Administering all the services with the new platform is simpler, and the IT team has more time and resources available to focus on more strategic issues and plan for the future.

The team is confident in the new platform and plans to use it to support next-generation clinical trial applications. It’s now full cloud ahead for the CRO’s vision to be 100 per cent cloud-based and transform the clinical trial industry.

“We have a vision for reinventing clinical trials,” said our customer’s vice president of IT operations. “Now we have a cloud platform that is making our vision a reality.”

Paul Keely is chief cloud officer at Open Systems and a 12-time Microsoft Most Valuable Professional 

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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