The electronic medical record (EMR) system is the beating heart of modern healthcare. When that system slows down or freezes, patient care can be impacted. But in the haste to resolve the issue, did the SysAdmin do more harm than good?
SysAdmin, heal thyself…
Modern EMRs are complex and power hungry systems, built upon innumerable database tables related to each other across a number of different joins and references. Computer farms, dozens of physical servers working together, are assembled to run and support virtual servers that then run the EMR. Sometimes, that’s still not enough, and the whole machine can slow down, threatening patient care.
In this case, the sysadmin was alerted to the issue in time and did what any trained technician would do — find more resources!
In this case, moving two virtual servers over to a backup system.
Service was quickly restored with nary a ‘negative patient outcome.’
Unfortunately, the servers moved to the backup farm were running Microsoft BizTalk – software used to facilitate communication between databases. BizTalk is licensed at the physical layer, meaning every physical server making up the server farm needed a license.
Since the backup server farm was not licensed for BizTalk, the compliance penalty would approach $8M!
What the auditor doesn’t know won’t hurt you (or your patients!).
Fortunately, the servers in question were also monitored by the Software Asset Management (SAM) team. The CMDB alerted the SAM team to the configuration change, and the group began asking questions. Even better, the solution was simple: SAM identified two other candidate servers — ones not running MS BizTalk — that could reside on the backup farm and not risk a software license audit penalty. The whole activity took less than 30 minutes to complete, and avoided a 7-figure un-budgeted charge.
By working together, both the server SysAdmin and the SAM team were able to identify two other servers – ones NOT running Microsoft BizTalk – that could be moved to the backup server farm. This allowed for all the concerns to be met:
- The freed resources allowed the Epic EMR to function correctly.
- SAM ensured all instances of BizTalk were contained on the licensed server farm, eliminating the audit risk.
- The SysAdmins worked with SAM to create a report that identified which servers could (and could not) move to the backup server farm should this issue happen again.
Thanks to the Pragmatic ITAM Method…
A potential $8M audit penalty was successfully avoided without jeopardizing patient care. Better still, processes were put in place so SysAdmins moving virtual servers between server farms would not put the hospital group at financial risk.