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Case study

Cerner Corporation
HP Vertica helps to optimize health information solutions

Industry
Health Care

Objective
Improve efficiency and quality of patient care by
speeding analysis of system performance timers
and client workflow data

Approach
Cerner Corporation moved from an existing general-
purpose database to the HP Vertica Analytics
Platform

IT matters
Analysis for a clients 6 million performance
timers reduced from 20 minutes to 20 secondsa
6,000% improvement
Concurrency raised to more than 450 simultaneous
users

Business matters
SLAs kept through more proactive management of
Millennium hosting environment
Ability to scale analytics capabilities as demand
grows
User workflow analysis to improve efficiency and
The RTMS timers let us examine the clinicians workflow.
quality of patient care, supporting government We can virtually sit over their shoulder and see how they
regulations
use the application, and make suggestions about using it
more efficiently. More of their time can then be spent with
patients rather than with IT systems.
Dan Woicke, director of Enterprise System Management at Cerner

Cerner Corporations Millennium solution platform not only


provides Electronic Health Records for health care providers,
but also helps those providers optimize processes to speed
the delivery of care and eliminate waste and error. When the
companys legacy data warehousing solution could no longer
support the need for near-real-time data analysis, it turned to
the HP Vertica Analytics Platform.
Case study | Cerner Corporation

As our solutions scaled, we began to approach Cerner collects billions of RTMS records
the upper limits of our analytical capacity, every month, analyzes them, and uses that
given the volume of data we were collecting, information to address performance issues in
says Bill Graff, senior vice president, Cerner Millennium that may impact care delivery. As
Technology Services. Now that problem is more and more health care providers around
behind us. The HP Vertica Analytics Platform the world began using Millennium, Cerners
delivers the speed and massive scalability we legacy data warehouse solution was not able
need to maintain the high levels of service to process the volume of data as quickly as it
availability and system performance health needed to.
care clients deserve.
We couldnt analyze the data fast enough to
proactively optimize Millennium timer data at
Big Data presents big an optimal rate. There was just too much data
challenge to successfully process it as it was generated,
explains Dan Woicke, director of Enterprise
Cerner is a leading supplier of health System Management at Cerner.
information technology solutions and services.
Its solutions optimize processes for health It became clear that, in order to sustain
care organizations ranging from single-doctor its ability to proactively address solution
practices to entire countries, and for the performance, Cerner needed a better approach
pharmaceutical and medical device industries. to Big Data analysis.
Cerner solutions are licensed by more than
9,000 facilities worldwide.
Why HP Vertica?
Cerner Millennium is the companys flagship Performance, concurrency
product. It integrates nearly 60 solutions into a
patient-centric suite focused on the Electronic Cerner evaluated several alternatives to
Health Record and clinical workflows. In most address its analytics needs. Ultimately, it chose
cases, Cerner provides the Millennium suite the HP Vertica Analytics Platform based on
to its customers as a hosted solution, running best-in-class performance and concurrency,
a considerable portion of the platform on HP with performance the most important.
servers and storage.
Thats where HP Vertica really stands out,
says Woicke. A large client produces six
The HP Vertica Analytics million RTMS timers per day. Analyzing that in
Platform delivers the speed our legacy database took 20 minutes. With HP
and massive scalability we Vertica, it can be done in 20 seconds, which is
effectively a 6,000% improvement.
need to maintain the high
levels of service availability Concurrencythe number of Cerner
associates analyzing data at a given time
and system performance also favored the HP Vertica Analytics Platform.
health care clients deserve. During the evaluation, more than 450
concurrent users were able to conduct analysis
Bill Graff, senior vice president, Cerner Technology with HP Vertica at one time.
Services
Another key consideration is scalability. During
the evaluation at Cerner, HP Vertica ran on a
To ensure the Cerner Millennium suite provides
half-rack of eight HP ProLiant BL460c Server
the rapid response and overall performance
Blades. Today, with HP Vertica running on a
its users have come to expect, Cerner has built
full rack of HP server blades at Cerner, the
some 2,000 Response Time Measurement
software can handle even more concurrent
System (RTMS) timers into the Millennium
users and process more data.
platform. These RTMS timers detect how long
certain application functions takesuch as
That scalability has already proven useful.
accessing or adding patient information, or
At the time of the evaluation, Cerner was
entering an order for medication or a medical
collecting 6 billion RTMS timers per month;
procedure.
since then, the number has grown to 10 billion.
And the sky is the limit.

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Case study | Cerner Corporation

The unlimited scalability of HP Vertica gives The RTMS timers let us examine the clinicians
us confidence that it will grow with us and workflow, explains Woicke. We can virtually
enable us to use the platform in more ways in sit over their shoulder and see how they use
the future, says Woicke. We know we can add the application, and make suggestions about
more capacity at any time. using it more efficiently.

For example, a user might routinely search


From reactive to proactive IT through common orders in a hospital or clinic,
management rather than creating a folder or list of favorites.
Using the folder could reduce a clinicians
For Cerner, analysis through the HP Vertica time spent searchingand reduce the risk of
Analytics Platform goes beyond identifying errorultimately enabling a clinician to spend
solution performance issues. It enables Cerner more time caring for patients.
to become more proactive in managing its
hosted Millennium service.
What we want is a wider view
Graff notes that Cerners hosting environment that lets us know what will
generates more than two million event
alerts per day on average. Daily, we distill
happen to server, storage and
two million alerts down, send them to our network performance long
Immediate Response Center, and deal with
particular issues that threaten to degrade
before an event occurs. We
service. can then head off problems
before they happen.
With the rapid analysis enabled by HP Vertica,
Cerner wants a more proactive approach. Bill Graff, senior vice president, Cerner
It is looking at the HP Vertica platform to Technology Services
do predictive analytics across a wide array
of performance parametersfrom CPU
utilization and disk I/O to network I/O, memory If a user isnt using a time-saving feature
utilization and beyond. effectively, we can contact them and suggest
a more efficient workflow for them, says
What we want is a wider view that lets us Woicke. We can coach our customers into
know what will happen to server, storage and being better users of Millennium. And by using
network performance long before an event Millennium more efficiently, the users become
occurs, explains Graff. We can then head off more efficient physicians.
problems before they happen. The ultimate
goal, he notes, is a self-healing system that Improving patient safety
automatically anticipates issues and spins up
additional resources to avoid any negative
and quality of care
end-user impact.
Analysis of user workflow in Millennium also
offers the promise of improving quality of
Coaching to improve user care. Using Cerners Health Facts application,
workflow which applies predictive analytics to build a
database of patient outcomes based on past
Another compelling outcome for Cerner is HP treatments, clinicians can steer toward a
Verticas ability to analyze the RTMS timers course of treatment with greater likelihood of
as breadcrumbs to track the workflow of success. This is key as health care providers
clinicians as they treat patients. Millennium support government regulations, such as the
offers numerous configuration options, which U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,
are designed to enable users to customize the designed in part to increase efficiency in health
solution. Unfortunately, not all users make the care delivery.
best of those options.
Effective use of Health Facts requires rapid
Millenniums RTMS timers provide the raw data analysis, and that means HP Vertica. In the
for Cerner to gain insight into how individual past, some Health Facts users would issue
physicians and other users actually use a query at 5 p.m. as they leave for the day,
Millennium and how they might use it better. hoping they would have a result when they

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Case study | Cerner Corporation

Customer at a glance return at 8 a.m. the next morning, Woicke


explains. With HP Vertica, those query times
continual service improvement. If a client has
a performance problem, Cerner can use real-
Application are down to two or three minutes. time usage and performance data to roll back
Cerner Millennium health care platform the clock and to replay a transaction. With this
What lies ahead? More data and more analysis. information, Cerner can identify the root cause
Hardware Cerner has already nearly doubled the number of the problem, resolve it quickly, and then use
HP ProLiant BL460c Gen8 Server Blades of records it analyzes on a daily basis. That that analysis to prevent similar issues among
HP 600 Modular Disk System growth will continue. other users.
HP P9500 Disk Arrays
We can use the analysis to determine if
HP XP24000 Disk Arrays Some Health Facts users someone changed a particular setting that
HP EVA storage systems would issue a query at 5 p.m. led to an incident, then go back and audit

Software
as they leave for the day, that setting across the client base to prevent
something from happening to another client,
HP Vertica Analytics Platform hoping they would have a Woicke explains.
Hadoop result when they return at 8
Red Hat Enterprise Linux v6.3 The result: proactive performance
a.m. the next morning. With management of Cerners patient-centric health
HP Vertica, those query times care solutions, which ultimately translates
to improved health care delivery, better
are down to two or three outcomes, and healthier, happier patients.
minutes. Exactly what health care providers, and Cerner,
hope to achieve.
Dan Woicke, director of Enterprise System
Management at Cerner

As Cerner hosts Millennium for the majority


of its clients, a comprehensive view of user
activity is vital to the incident, event and
problem management processes used to drive

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4AA4-8224ENW, September 2013