Hospital chooses SaaS for Web performance

Feb. 27, 2010

Monitoring service provides end-user analytics and assures the hospital of the availability of its physician-application site.

The opening of two hospitals in 2009 — expected to attract many new patients and prospective physicians — prompted a renewed focus on El Camino Hospital's Web operations. Specifically, the hospital needed to leverage its Web presence to better serve the needs of this growing number of patients and physicians, in a cost-effective, productive and brand-enhancing way.

By enabling patients to conveniently and reliably perform such tasks as paying bills, and researching and selecting physicians online, for example, the hospital would not only lower costs through the Web channel, but also have an opportunity to enhance relationships with existing patients and attract new ones.

“Our IT team was tasked with creating the highest-performing Web site possible,” says Greg Walton, CIO. “For the IT team, this meant creating a Web site capable of delivering exceptional availability and speed for more than 2,000 unique site visitors each day. To achieve a greater degree of control, we first transitioned our Web operations from an external hosting partner to an in-house environment, but we lacked an internal performance-monitoring system, which was a challenge.”

The hospital also had to ensure high performance for a more diverse set of Web-site users in different geographic locations across California, using different ISPs, content-delivery networks and connection speeds.

This wide range of performance-impacting variables can yield differences in the way users experience a site, and poor performance anywhere in the chain can significantly degrade the user experience. This required El Camino Hospital to manage performance across the complete Web-application delivery chain, including elements beyond its own firewall.

The hospital turned to Web performance-monitoring services from Gomez, a division of Compuware, to enable performance measuring and monitoring for its public Web site and physician application site. The services leverage a comprehensive testing network comprising user desktops and devices, which gives the hospital a view into how different users across California are experiencing their Web site and applications.

“Once armed with this view, we can then determine which segments of Web site visitors may be experiencing a performance degradation, and then trace back through the Web application-delivery chain in order to find, isolate and fix the issue, ideally before users are even aware a problem exists,” says Walton.

The hospital turned to Web performance-monitoring services to enable performance measuring and monitoring for its public Web site and physician application site.

Gomez services also warn the hospital IT team about performance degradations. “If performance drops below acceptable availability or speed thresholds, we receive alerts with granular detail about the problem and its root cause,” Walton adds.

From a physician perspective, Gomez assures the hospital of the availability of its physician-application site. Unexpected and annoying site failures in the middle of a lengthy application process can dissuade physicians from attempting to apply again.

“As we expand, content-management requirements also pose a threat to Web performance,” Walton explains. “For example, service-line managers are able to add video and other high-bandwidth content to their Web pages, such as video demonstrating a new cardiovascular service.

“The unintended side effect is that as content accumulates, overall Web performance tends to slow,” he adds. “This service enables us to understand the impact of new content on users' Web performance and ensure that performance levels for existing content and applications are maintained and protected.”

The services are available in a software-as-a-service, on-demand, pay-per-consumption model. This gives the hospital flexibility and scalability to deploy Gomez services as frequently as it wants, both before and after Web site and application deployment.

For more information on
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