“Unweave the Weave” was a major transportation project in Minnesota in the mid-2000s that reconfigured the interchanges of two highways to improve traffic safety by eliminating unnecessary lane changes — that is, weaving between lanes.
Katie Sexe, the clinic administrator of Clinic Sofia, an OB-GYN practice based in the Twin Cities area, sought a way to “unweave the weave” of piecemeal IT solutions that wasted time and created vulnerabilities. She found the solution by choosing Med Tech Solutions (MTS) to provide cloud hosting and managed IT services that help Clinic Sofia increase efficiency and security now and as the business grows.
“It’s really beneficial that MTS provides a complete range of expert IT services — basically one-stop shopping for everything under the sun. Having all these people from one company means everyone is on the same team. For me, it would get too complicated if there were too many hands in the fire in terms of IT support.”
CLINIC ADMINISTRATOR, CLINIC SOFIA
To provide the utmost in patient care requires technology systems that streamline workflows and support growth. When Clinic Administrator
Katie Sexe joined Clinic Sofia in 2011, she found that while the practice continually delivered exceptional service, behind the scenes, due to the clinic’s tremendous growth in a short period of time, IT infrastructure was a hodgepodge of IT solutions that were added ad hoc and managed without adequate support.
Founded in 2004 in Edina, Minnesota, Clinic Sofia currently has 38 employees. In 2013, the practice opened a second location in nearby Maple Grove. That site’s capacity will double in size when they move in early 2022 to a much larger building under construction next door.
One of the major challenges that Clinic Sofia faced was the use of servers to house its EHR and other IT systems. “On-premise servers are complicated
to maintain,” Sexe explains, “and it’s costly when you add them piecemeal.” Beyond these concerns, Sexe worried about vulnerability in the face of natural disasters. A few years back, there was a plumbing problem in a dental office above one of the clinics, and water trickled down into one of the exam rooms. “If that had happened in our server room, it could have been disastrous, because at that time we didn’t have sufficient backup systems,” says Sexe.
Equally important, Sexe suspected that neither their servers nor their workstations were current in terms of software upgrades, patches, and compliance. The risk posed by inadequate maintenance was considerable according to Sexe: “Any time healthcare systems are down, even if for 5 minutes, it’s an urgent problem.”
From the beginning, Sexe had a vision for how to improve things. “There’s a stretch of highway here called the Weave. And there was a big road project to ‘Unweave the Weave’ to improve driving conditions. My vision was to ‘unweave the weave’ of all the convoluted setups we have had in the past.” That would entail moving everything currently housed on on-premise servers to cloud hosting. But first Sexe needed to improve baseline operations by switching to a new EHR system and developing a more cohesive approach to IT support and maintenance.
Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom, Clinic Sofia is an OB-GYN clinic in the Twin Cities area dedicated to providing nurturing, supportive healthcare to women of all ages. The practice is highly acclaimed, including recently being named Best Women’s Clinic and Minnesota’s Best Fertility Specialist in the Star Tribune’s Reader’s Choice awards. Clinic Sofia is known for its personalized approach to healthcare — enhanced by wisdom, conversation, and connection — that provides tools and resources to foster a community of healthy women.
In 2013, when Clinic Sofia wanted to upgrade to the NextGen EHR system, they chose MTS to configure and deploy the solution, conduct company-wide classroom training, and provide 24/7 support. One of the chief reasons Sexe partnered with MTS was their unique practice-centered healthcare focus.
“MTS brings so much institutional knowledge that choosing them to deploy NextGen for us was a no-brainer,” says Sexe.
Part of the implementation process included optimization, to ensure that Clinic Sofia’s clinical and business applications work the way the way the clinic’s staff and providers do. MTS’ deep expertise with NextGen and long tenure as a NextGen Certified Partner ensures quick resolution of issues whenever they crop up, and MTS also takes care of all patching, updates, and compliance matters, saving Sexe considerable time.
Bringing in a new system enabled Sexe to confront the reality that their IT support was lacking. Previously, their technical assistance came from an individual who worked full-time elsewhere and who couldn’t keep up with the clinic’s growing demands.
Clinic Sofia had a wide range of systems — physical servers, virtual servers, workstations, T1 lines, and phones. Sexe was concerned that systems weren’t up to date, that not all workstations had appropriate security protection, and that old email accounts were still accessible. Further, “I always felt like we were just adding servers on top of servers, instead of doing an effective analysis. It just didn’t feel correct.”
To address this, MTS conducted a systems audit and identified changes
that could be implemented right away as well as a roadmap for future IT improvements. The MTS team also proposed a long-term strategy for securely maintaining critical technology systems. The audit provided Sexe with business justification to hire MTS to manage all of the clinic’s IT services.
“It’s really beneficial that MTS provides a complete range of expert IT services — basically one-stop shopping for everything under the sun,” as Sexe puts it. “Having all these people from one company means everyone is on the same team. For me, it would get too complicated if there were too many hands in the fire in terms of IT support.”
She also values the on-site presence of the IT team when needed. “Our previous support person couldn’t even remotely log into our system. We don’t always need them onsite, but when there’s an issue, it’s a bonus that someone from MTS can pop over to problem-solve.”
In 2015, with the help of MTS, Sexe finally realized her dream of migrating Clinic Sofia to the cloud. This was when the real task could begin — that is, moving everything off physical servers, including healthcare solutions, the phone lines, and T1.
The cloud-hosting services from MTS are HITRUST CSF-certified and HIPAA-compliant, providing Clinic Sofia with affordable, secure, and reliable access to the applications they rely on to serve patients every day.
When comparing the cost of going to the cloud with on-premise servers, Sexe determined that the practice would pay slightly less to keep things the way they were. “But going to the cloud provides so many more benefits, that minor additional costs weren’t a consideration,” she adds. The cloud eliminates the expenses of buying and maintaining servers, not to mention the consequences of any downtime. This makes it easier to anticipate needs and manage IT budgets effectively. And, of course, being in the cloud facilitated remote access during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a level of flexibility that Clinic Sofia couldn’t have foreseen that they would need.
Another advantage of cloud hosting was removing the vulnerability that could result from experiencing a natural disaster. “Now I have peace of mind that should there be a fire or other disaster in one of our buildings, we’ll be fine,” Sexe says.
Equally important, MTS enables Clinic Sofia to manage risk, secure critical data, and meet regulatory compliance requirements more fully than ever before, which is essential to safeguarding health records from any unauthorized use. MTS-managed IT services ensure that systems are up-to-date on warranties and security protections, eliminating entry points for hackers. Further, MTS experts monitor threats 24/7 from a security operations center (SOC) that
uses the latest incident-response technologies and comprehensive controls. Sexe has high confidence in the services provided. “Honestly, we’ve never had a security issue since working with MTS. And in the security space, no news is good news. MTS keeps us informed on what’s going on in the industry with updates on issues like phishing and ransomware attacks.”
“Honestly, we’ve never had a security issue since working with MTS. And in the security space, no news is good news. MTS keeps us informed on what’s going on in the industry with updates on issues like phishing and ransomware attacks.”
CLINIC ADMINISTRATOR, CLINIC SOFIA
Now that MTS has helped Clinic Sofia “unweave the weave,” Sexe appreciates how MTS is there to support the practice as it expands. Whether she’s adding new doctors, other staff, new solutions, or even new locations, she can count on MTS to make the transition smooth.
And at the new Maple Grove site under construction, MTS has exceeded expectations, providing guidance on the number and placement of phones, outlets, and T1 jacks in all the rooms.
“Not all IT companies would help you with lower-voltage needs. But MTS will partner with me on all sorts of issues,” Sexe explains.
In the near future, MTS will assist Clinic Sofia with a major upgrade to the NextGen portal. Sexe is happy that, as an MTS cloud-hosting client, she doesn’t have to subsidize or manage a server upgrade as part of the process. Sexe plans to enlist MTS in optimizing the new NextGen Patient Portal so that Clinic Sofia patients can log in and access all their scheduling information, office visit reports, and forms.
In addition to deep technical expertise, Sexe values another attribute that MTS brings to the table: “It’s all about the people that you work with. MTS people are highly-qualified, super helpful, and responsive. They really understand our needs. We trust them completely.”
“MTS employees are highly-qualified, super helpful, and responsive. They really understand our needs. We trust them completely.”
CLINIC ADMINISTRATOR, CLINIC SOFIA
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