Gary Fritz knew that going mobile would require a lot of work. Fritz also knew that if he could get users to make do with one mobile device and one cellular network, he would be able to handle support in-house. But Fritz — vice president of information services at Eastern Wis.-based Aurora Health Care, a $3 billion-a-year integrated delivery network with over 25,000 employees and 100 hospitals — soon realized things wouldn't be quite that simple.
Fritz understood that he couldn't ask his users to choose between, say a BlackBerry or a smartphone. Even he ended up having a hard time deciding. Plus, Fritz points out that with respect to hardware, "Things change every nine months." With a market evolving at such a fast rate, settling on a single model or a cellular service provider was not something he wanted to do. Under such circumstances, Fritz decided to outsource support of his wireless program to Oconomowoc, Wis.-based Paragon Development System.
"They get healthcare," Fritz says of PDS. "They're relatively small, and they're able to focus on what our needs are." He wanted to be able to support both the self-selected users who purchased their own mobile devices, and devices that Aurora bought.
Overall, Fritz says he was trying to protect IT from the problems he saw a few years back with PDAs when "everybody got one and showed up on IT's doorstep trying to figure them out." After piloting with PDS, Fritz determined Aurora should support eight to 10 models and two or three cellular service providers. He is currently negotiating the PDS contract.
With PDS' Mobile Data Services solution, Aurora was able to select from a variety of models and cellular service providers. The organization also got access to a 24/7 call center help desk dubbed "Artie." To Fritz, off-hours support means, "When there's a problem at three in the morning, there's somebody online that can answer the question."
As for advice, he says to look carefully at the internal cost and the cost to go outside. "Like every technology, the real cost is not the initial investment. The real cost is the annual operating cost."
Bonita Shelar CCS-P is payment services manager, MaternOhio Management Services.