In good health

In a bid to gain ISO certification, MedNet implements ManageEngine’s ServiceDesk Plus Enterprise Edition

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In good health Rozario: The clock starts ticking on any IT issues that you fail to fix.
By  Tom Paye Published  December 15, 2014

MedNet is an international provider of managed healthcare services. Owned by Munich Health, the health segment of the world’s largest re-insurer, Munich Re, the company’s Middle East operations span the GCC countries, Jordan, Kurdistan, Greece and Cyprus. MedNet’s core business is with health insurance providers, for which it offers end-to-end managed healthcare solutions. For example, if an individual took out a health insurance policy with one of MedNet’s customers, MedNet would provide all of the back-office functions, from payment decisions to medical consultations.

MedNet says that its services go far beyond the provision of administrative services. The company employs its own medically trained professionals to advise doctors on a case-by-case basis, as well as a dedicated claims team, which adjudicates on claims paid out by its customers. Other services it offers include product design, pricing support, medical risk evaluation, medical management, healthcare provider management, training and consulting services.

Such an organisation needs a robust IT infrastructure, not only from a business continuity standpoint, but from a moral one, too. The business need for robust IT is obvious — if claims go wrong as a result of an IT error, its insurance provider customers could end up paying too much or too little out. Under the former scenario, the insurance provider will lost faith in Mednet’s administrative capabilities; under the latter, the insurance provider’s customers will lose faith and look elsewhere for their health insurance. Meanwhile, from a moral standpoint, MedNet has an obligation to do things properly because, in the business of healthcare, any error has the potential to cause loss of life. The stakes are extremely high indeed.

As a result, MedNet’s IT infrastructure is highly tailored to its business needs. The company owns around 52 servers, some of which are virtualised, running various different operating systems. The company runs Windows, a number of flavours of Linux, and relies heavily on open-source technologies. It has developed a critical e-claims application system, which was done on PHP and a big data database on Mongo DB. It also has its own document management system, which was developed in-house on MySQL from scratch.

Unfortunately, one area where MedNet’s IT infrastructure was lacking was in its basic support services. Done completely ad hoc, support to end users was provided as and when they requested it via phone, e-mail or simply grabbing a member of the IT staff as they walked through the office. While this system hadn’t caused any major hiccups, nothing that IT was doing was being documented, and as a result, if larger issues arose, there would be no accountability.

Business challenge

Such a system would hardly stand MedNet in good stead for one of its largest ambitions — to gain ISO 20,000 certification. The idea, according to Einstein Johnson Rozario, CIO at MedNet UAE, is to put a seal of approval on MedNet’s IT services, giving people more confidence in dealing with the company. However the ITIL best practices that the company would have to adopt to gain certification are a far cry from its previous way of doing things.

“We are a fast-growing company, we are really fast growing. And in a fast-growing company, we really have to service our clients in different departments. All of these issues were not tracked initially. It could relate to one health claim, imagine. An issue is reported, IT does not act on it, and at that point in time, it might not have much of an effect. But the clock starts ticking, and that really has an effect on the service. We might end up forgetting it, and if we forget it, we might end up costing the company, or costing our reputation,” Rozario explains.

“We didn’t have a system. They used to call IT, and we’d go fix something. We’d just be walking around and someone would just say that they have a problem. Ultimately, we had to track the incidents, and all the processes that we wanted to put in. That was the starting point. We had to have an incident management system put into our processes.”

MedNet began by looking into suitable open-source solutions, given its propensity for that way of doing things. However, according to Rozario, the company quickly decided against the open-source option. He reasoned that, by the time that MedNet had built out the solution, customising it to the company’s needs, too many man-hours would have been spent to make it a worthwhile endeavour. What’s more, the solution might not have been perfect in the end, anyway — this was something that MedNet couldn’t risk, given its desire to get certified.

And so MedNet began scouring the market for a proprietary solution. According to Rozario, the solution had to be cost-effective, as well as based on ITIL best practices.

“We needed to put ITIL processes in place, leading to ISO certification, and we are really aiming for that. We are looking towards global certification so that we can put a standard on our IT operations. So we went to the first source of everything, the internet! We chose some cost-effective ones, and then we found one that was ITIL-based, from ManageEngine,” he says.

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