How a 1,700-tablet rollout helped transform this health care company
When you’re in the back of an ambulance, you want your EMTs to have the newest, most reliable, most easy-to-use technology. You don’t want clunky computers and tablets from 10 years ago, and you don’t want a slow, messy deployment process of new technology to cause hiccups in your ongoing care. If your life is on the line, you want to know everything related to saving it is as efficient and up-to-date as possible.
Health care is in a more precarious place than most industries, as failures can have life or death consequences. That’s why, when one ambulance dispatch company wanted to replace 5,500 of the computers and tablets in its ambulances, it needed the process to be efficient, move quickly, and—most importantly—improve the lives of both doctors and patients.
Here’s how it did exactly that.
Emergency vehicles with problems of their own
The company dispatched ambulances all over the country, meaning that it had a huge supply of mobile devices. The tablets and laptops the company deployed ran the company’s enterprise app, which EMTs used to check patients and catalog their vital statistics, but device management issues regularly popped up across the board.
There was no unified management system that could easily image all of those devices. The ruggedized laptops and tablets were old, heavy, bulky, expensive, and on strange lifecycles. The company struggled to tell when old devices should be retired and disposed of, or how data was transferred or deleted, or if training was needed for a new device.
With all of these troubles, the company was looking for an enterprise-wide upgrade: an army of the same devices that could be managed by one system for seamless device and information integration. A big draw for the company was Windows 10, which it was hoping to implement in all areas of business in order to streamline imaging and management. It turned to Microsoft, which offered a good deal on Surface 3 tablets, InTune, and Azure to complete the deployment.
Tight turnaround, high demand
Despite this generous offer from Microsoft, challenges remained. The first came in the form of inventory. As the company’s longtime partner, SHI was responsible for sourcing the 1,700 Surface tablets and accompanying accessories, such as Urban Armor Gear cases and Compulocks DoubelGlass Screen Shield screen protectors, that would be used in the ambulances—no easy feat, considering the Surface tablets best suited for the company were not new models. However, by working with multiple distributors and leveraging its strong relationship with Microsoft’s Surface team, SHI was able to get access to Surfaces as they became available.
The second challenge came in the form of prioritizing the rollout. With so many locations and only a four-month rollout period, it was important that the schedule ran tightly to the expected timeline and properly prioritized each site in terms of need. By engaging with suppliers and the health care company’s key stakeholders, SHI was able to figure out which locations would implement the rollout first, manage the supply chain to accommodate that, and simplify the timeline. SHI also encrypted, imaged, and asset tagged each device, so that they could be sent to the proper location and work right out of the box—a process partly made possible by SHI’s new Integration Center.
Making it all come together
Upgrading its hardware allowed the company’s enterprise app to run much more smoothly, meaning doctors and EMTs can share patient information more easily than before. The Surface 3 is lighter and more user-friendly than the old machines the company was using, and adding the functionality of the included Surface pen and other accessories means that hospitals can check in and process patients faster.
The Surface 3, of course, also runs Windows 10, which can up productivity for doctors, nurses, and EMTs. By adding mobility and Windows 10 to its environment, the company improves flow of information between health care practitioners and patients—a valuable addition in a field where every second can count.
But it doesn’t end there. Although the rollout went smoothly and quickly for this health care company, there’s still a long way to go. By switching all of its devices to Windows 10 and compatible services, this company hopes to improve its communication and device management even further, creating a more connected environment that could help save even more lives.