Allscripts

Allscripts and AppDynamics: A Faster Path to Healing

Allscripts Connects Hospitals, Physicians, and Patients with Healthy Apps

In an era of high speed and increasingly higher customer expectations, it's easy to forget that performance isn’t just about getting goods and services right away — sometimes having reliable monitoring capabilities really is a life or death situation.

Allscripts is a leading provider of healthcare IT solutions, responsible for millions of monthly transactions supporting clinical and financial data for patients, healthcare professionals, and major providers. The company serves more than 180,000 physician users, and has solutions in 2,700 hospitals and 13,000 extended care organizations, giving healthcare professionals faster access to information they need to better care for patients. In short, it’s not an environment that can afford performance slow-downs.

"The people who rely on us are doctors and other medical professionals, such as labs, insurance companies, and providers. Essentially, professionals helping people who aren’t doing well," says Jeff Brady, Product Manager at Allscripts. "If we have an issue, there could be a doctor or a lab tech who can’t do their job on the other end."

Agility Requires Clear Visibility

For Allscripts, the ability to stay on top of trends is key to ensuring quality experiences for all users, from doctors and patients to business and IT teams.

But all too often, efforts to be fast moving and agile can result in even greater complexity, as new software and hardware are added to legacy systems. This is further complicated when there’s a lack of visibility into a digital ecosystem—which was an issue being faced by Allscripts, compounded by a lack of ability to quickly and confidently address issues while in production.

“With classic tools and techniques, kicking off a debugging session in a production environment is a scary thing,” says Brady. “We were becoming really hamstrung by our tools. If your instrumentation is wrong, you’re looking in the wrong place.”

So, the Allscripts team began looking for a application intelligence solution that could not just identify that there was a problem, but give them end-to-end visibility into the root cause of the issues. They also wanted a tool that could integrate into their existing tools, and create a strong, symbiotic relationship. The search brought them to AppDynamics.

AppDynamics provides visibility we just didn’t have before.

Clear benefits

“AppDynamics provides visibility we just didn’t have before,” says Brady. “For example, we had an issue regarding passwords, and hunted for the cause of the problem for two weeks. When we applied AppDynamics to our system test infrastructure, we found the root cause of the failure within an hour. The problem wasn’t in the code, but in an unmanaged library. Issue solved.”

Beyond greatly reducing their mean time to resolution, the efficiency delivered by AppDynamics has also allowed Allscripts to scale back their physical infrastructure — which helps get checks signed. Brady explains:

“Any CIO knows that providing business value to the finance team is vital before they approve a spend. We can do more with less with AppDynamics because we’re better optimized. We don’t need as many servers or as much memory, but still get twice the performance. With the visibility we get from AppDynamics, the first choice becomes optimizing the code, which in the grand scheme is already paid for, since IT is going to be here no matter what. We’re actually enhancing customer satisfaction with the same, or less money.”

We can do more with less with AppDynamics because we’re better optimized. We don’t need as many servers or as much memory, but still get twice the performance.

One cohesive DevOps team—development, to production, to business

One other substantial benefit of partnering with AppDynamics is better teamwork between all of Allscripts’ IT teams and aiding in driving a DevOps culture.

“We’ve developed a company with a common tool set for all the IT teams to work with, so everyone is better aligned,” says Brady. “It was very important that AppDynamics didn’t replace existing tools and methodologies that were working well for us, but enhanced and augmented them.”

The implementation gave the team the strengthening they were looking for—especially in terms of communication and working as a team.

“We’ve been able to integrate AppDynamics from our developers all the way to production, and experienced an overall strengthening of engineering, development, and homestay hosting. AppDynamics makes things transparent to the whole team, which is the power.”

Continues Brady, “You can’t have successful DevOps unless everyone has the means to work together. Before we had the blame game, but with AppDynamics in place, the hosting team can identify the exact SQL statement or line of .NET code causing problems when the CPU experienced errant behavior. The ability to provide a time slice of what was going on gives a clear and consistent message to the Dev team. It makes it easy to find root cause and take corrective language."

We’ve been able to integrate AppDynamics from our developers all the way to production, and experienced an overall strengthening of engineering, development, and homestay hosting. AppDynamics makes things transparent to the whole team, which is the power.

A healthier future

Allscripts is working to take their industry into new frontiers that will help caregivers be even more effective.

“Healthcare is in the largest industrial revolution ever. Our patient information is scattered, so right now it’s all about integration, integration, integration. The ability to have that information in one view is key to helping patients. We need to make the healthcare system more efficient nationwide.”

Brady gives an example that puts the situation in startling perspective.

“Diabetes, for example, takes multiple doctor visits before being accurately diagnosed. When it goes untreated, the first thing that happens is you start to lose feeling to extremities. Then you start amputating. Then it attacks the heart and eyes. You go blind. It’s a slow, horrifying death. But not if you detect it early, which is what we’re helping make happen with the applications we’re building.”

Worst case scenarios are on the decline, and Brady envisions an even brighter future.

“A full spectrum approach to monitoring allows Allscripts’ users to make quicker connections and decisions. We’re currently invested in working towards the integration of Genomics into patients’ charts, which can help determine the effectiveness of a given care plan. The amount of data/computing required to perform something like that is enormous, which is where a solution like AppDynamics is crucial.”

It’s a goal that everyone can feel proud of working towards.

“I have the best job in the world. I work at Allscripts by choice. It’s not a job to me. Improvements made by Allscripts-type companies help millions of people in one fell swoop. One good thing leads to those changes. This company is full of people doing great things for other people.”