Artistic Background

Norton Healthcare Automates Reporting and Print Management in Cumbersome Legacy Applications

Norton Healthcare Norton Healthcare
Michael Haan, Business Systems Integration Analyst


For more than a century Norton Healthcare's faith heritage has guided its mission to provide quality health care to all those served. Today, Norton Healthcare is the Louisville area's leading hospital and health care system (45 percent market share) and second largest private employer. The not-for-profit system - the largest in Kentucky and rated one of the top 100 integrated health care delivery systems in the country - includes four large hospitals in Louisville, 10 Norton Immediate Care Centers, 9,700 employees, 280 employed medical providers at some 50 locations, and nearly 2,000 total physicians on its medical staff. Norton Healthcare serves the Greater Louisville metro area, including Southern Indiana, and patients throughout Kentucky.

The Challenge

Norton Healthcare was faced with the challenge of developing a system in which time consuming manual print jobs as well as labor intensive data entry could be automated within both Meditech Magic and Client Server environments. Users who work with these archaic legacy applications find them to be extremely time-consuming. They spend a large portion of their working hours navigating a maze of screens and pecking the keyboard to get the information they need to work effectively and efficiently. What may have appeared as an IT issue on the surface was really an issue of vital strategic importance for Norton Healthcare. The organization needed to transform the way in which its workers interacted with the health care management system so it could deliver the highest quality health care to its patients. Norton management charged Don Stone, Database Architect, with finding a solution to the problem and Michael Haan with developing a detailed implementation plan.

At first, Stone considered using CSPrint for the project. Norton had used CSPrint in the past, and it was easy for him to evaluate the product. However, he needed a solution that excelled at both automated printing and keystroke emulation. CSPrint was only effective with the printing requirements; it was deficient with keystroke emulation. Next, Michael Haan test drove Boston Workstation, but here he ran into problems exactly the opposite of those experienced with CSPrint. Boston Workstation was great at keystroke emulation but very poor at printing automation. While many features were touted in the product, Haan found the product to be wanting in terms of usability and reliability.

Finally, Stone and Haan turned to AutoMate, where they found a product that had everything they needed and more. It excelled at printing automation and keystroke emulation, and it was also easy to learn and use. Haan liked AutoMate's error-handling and notification capabilities, which help him to monitor and improve the tasks. Haan also loved AutoMate's ability to perform tasks outside the Meditech environment; he realized that AutoMate's power could be brought to bear on just about any IT issue he wanted to streamline or automate.

The Solution

With Automate, an open palette, and a standalone PC, Haan was able to attack the issues and concerns head on. The basic process included a short learning curve, developing initial AutoMate tasks, long hours of testing, and finally going live with the task in a production environment. At last count, the organization had more than 850 AutoMate tasks running in production. Of those:

- 684 are scheduled printouts formally run by end users
- 88 are scheduled downloads formally run by end users
- 80 are comment scripts from third party vendors entering data (approximately 8 million comments annually!) back into Norton Healthcare's systems
- 3 are dictionary updates formally run by end users

These scripts run 24/7, 365 days a year, and are triggered automatically on multiple Virtual Servers with a better than 99 percent success rate. These 850+ scripts do not include any AD-HOC dictionary changes, keystroke edits, etc., that are regularly requested throughout the organization. The last AD-HOC edit Haan performed was completed within a week's time and saved 22 weeks of anticipated overtime. Almost every script uses a SQL call to query outside data, printer locations, dictionary updates, etc. Being a SQL shop, Haan has found the SQL query tool within Automate to be excellent, and it has become the preferred method of populating Data Sets for loops, etc. The EXCEL query is also very handy. The functions, loops and variables within Automate seem endless. Haan says, "Implementing AutoMate's full range of capabilities for the benefit of Norton Healthcare has only been limited by my resources."

The Benefits

With the implementation of AutoMate, Norton Healthcare has discontinued many vendor contracts resulting in large software support savings. The calculated Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) savings is approximately 30 FTEs. In a non-profit organization, that much FTE savings is extremely important in making ends meet. According to Haan, "There is no doubt that AutoMate has enabled Norton Healthcare to drastically reduce its labor costs by millions of dollars annually. But more importantly, our workers can do a better job of focusing on what is most important - delivering exceptional health care to our patients."