Business continuity helps protect reputation, brand, and data

March 30, 2017
Healthways is an independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions, based in Franklin, TN. The company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive results in the well-being of its members.
By Bhuvana Sundaresan, Senior Director of Product Management, Sungard Availability Services

With its own business and its customers’ wellness programs dependent on availability, Healthways needed a clear, documented, and proven plan for maintaining its always-on business.

Consultants from Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) assessed the impact of downtime on Healthways’ key business processes, systems, applications, and data, then developed and implemented a best practice plan for business continuity, disaster recovery, and compliance.

Meeting regulatory and customer demands for nonstop business

Healthways leverages more than 30 years of research and experience to deliver wellness programs that increase longevity and reduce lifestyle risks for long-term good health. Businesses, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities, and government entities all pay Healthways to make these programs available online to their employees as an incentivized benefit, which in turn leads to fewer sick days and increased productivity.

To deliver that positive impact, participants must remain consistently engaged in the programs, and that can only be possible if they have uninterrupted access to the Healthways systems that support them.

“If an application doesn’t work or people can’t get someone on the phone, they get frustrated,” explained Andy Wyley, Business Continuity Manager at Healthways. “It’s the same for our wellness programs, but the situation is even more sensitive because it involves each participant’s insurance packages and health savings accounts. One missed digital course or coaching session could cost a participant two hundred dollars or more, so making sure they have nonstop access to our services is priority number one.”

To accomplish that goal, Healthways needed to implement a business continuity plan that accurately identified the business processes of nearly 70 departments across the enterprise and the impact of downtime on those processes.

The company also needed to be able to produce detailed documentation attesting to the validity of the plan at a moment’s notice to meet compliance demands. In addition to ever-present industry regulations and certification requirements, customer audits occur frequently and sometimes unpredictably. Current and potential customers alike want evidence that there is a tested, up-to-date plan in place, so having the cability to provide reliable proof quickly was a must.

Assessing business impact to prioritize actions

When Wyley joined Healthways in 2010, the company already had Sungard AS’ Living Disaster Recovery Planning System (LDRPS) in place, but it needed to be upgraded. Instead of simply carrying over existing data, Wyley tapped Sungard AS consultants to rebuild the system from scratch for a full-scale business continuity revival.

“Within my first couple of weeks at Healthways, we did the upgrade, began the data mapping exercise to identify the systems supporting key processes, and customized all of the screens,” said Wyley. “Then, we were ready to begin the business impact analysis. With the help of Sungard AS, we conducted in-depth, face-to-face interviews with our business partners across the enterprise to determine where the risks existed and the business impact of downtime,” she continued.

By inputting fresh data into the upgraded tool, Healthways was able to refocus on the most critical processes that would impact its capability to meet contractual demands, certification requirements, and revenue goals. Armed with powerful reports from the business continuity software, Wyley continued interacting with each department to determine an action plan.

“You need everyone to be engaged in the process, because this is going to end up being their business continuity and recovery plan,” noted Wyley. “Allowing them to be a part of the decisions is a big part of that. We discussed what was important and why and agreed on the next steps.”

A plan for business continuity and recovery

Companies that partner with Healthways know their employees will have access to their wellness programs at all times, under any circumstances. The company can also respond more quickly to audits with clear documentation that proves its ongoing readiness for uninterrupted business.

“Every time we go through any type of certification, accreditation, or regulatory audit, I’m always given the highest ranking when it comes to our programs,” reported Wyley. “I’d love to take the credit for it, but it really does come down to the continuity software tools and my Sungard AS consultants.”

“If I want to highlight particular risks across the enterprise, I can do that with the AssuranceCM tool with a couple of clicks,” continued Wyley. “I’m not analyzing the information on my own. I’m not researching and investigating and having multiple conversations. I’m simply reporting on the issues that matter most.”

For other companies wondering how to implement similar business continuity and disaster recovery programs, Wyley reflects on her own experience with Sungard AS and offers this advice: “Don’t do it on your own. Choose a vendor you can trust and invest in consulting on the front end, so you get it right the first time.”

Editor’s Note: Healthways’ Total Population Health Services business was acquired by Sharecare, Inc., but is referred to as Healthways in this case study.

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