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Splunk Assists Molina Healthcare with Operational Efficiency

Molina Healthcare uses Splunk to gain control and visibility over its health IT infrastructure tools.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations are implementing new technology into their health IT infrastructure to increase operational efficiency and improve patient care. As IT infrastructures continue to grow, organizations are in need of a solution to be sure that they are getting the most out of infrastructure tools.

Managed care company Molina Health found that its health IT infrastructure grew rapidly over the past several years, causing its Vice President of Enterprise Infrastructure Ben Gordon to implement an operational intelligence solution to gain more visibility and control over the growing systems.

“I realized that we needed to do something a bit different to get our hands around the ever growing and expanding infrastructure and the complexities that come with that,” Gordon explained to HITInfrastrcture.com. “We chose to look at all the tools that we had in the environment. We were very big on automating as much of our infrastructure as possible.

We realized that we wanted to get the greatest amount of visibility from the services point of view, the claims engine, the things that drive either patient outcomes or revenue within the organization and we wanted to monitor them from within.”

Similar to many other healthcare organizations, Molina was faced with advancing technology to improve operations and user experience, while cutting back IT infrastructure costs. Molina enlisted the services of Splunk’s operational intelligence technology to map out how its technology systems worked together and to eliminate redundancies.

READ MORE: Why Application Programming Interfaces Are Key for Healthcare

Gordon explained that Splunk’s operational intelligence solution became a central piece of Molina’s health IT infrastructure. The solution allowed Molina to rationalize its tools. Molina also integrated the rest of its tools and applications using Splunk as the central one.

“Splunk is used by our operations center primarily as a dashboard or a single pane of glass where we have visually mapped out all of our core services like claims or how patients interact with our website or our call center,” said Gordon. “It’s all been mapped out so the operations center spends a lot of time watching those dashboards. They’re near real-time and as things come up or things turn yellow or red, the teams are either diving down deeper in the Slunk log or our tools are actually linked through those Splunk dashboards where they can just click on appropriate tool to resolve the issues.”

Molina uses the Splunk Collectors that provides 90-day real-time data then dumps long-term data into a data lake to be used for trending analysis if issues arise. The solution allows Molina to determine if issues were preventable by analyzing patterns. This gives IT administrators a near real-time response to issues and also provides enough information for proactive responses.

Molina’s operational intelligence solution has benefited the organization by reducing the learning curve for new operational employees. New employees are often faced with learning names, acronyms and connections.

“The visual dashboards really help provide a visual reference point,” stated Gordon. “When you say, ‘I have a claims engine,’ now you can physically see it because it’s right there in front of you. You can see how things flow from a visual perspective and we’ve found that really reduces the learning curve.”

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Gordon explained that to build out the dashboards, developers and operational employees needed to come together. While it was a challenge, building the dashboards gave them better insight into the infrastructure systems.

“It was great because they learned a lot from each other in terms of how things truly operate within the organization and a lot of interesting insights came out of it, such as how do we simplify the environment? Are the alerts coming through real or not? There was a lot of cleanup effort in removing technical debt which was part of the process of building the dashboards,” said Gordon.

Molina has benefitted financially from implementing Splunk. The organization was able to consolidate tools and replace legacy tools that don’t function efficiently enough for a modern health IT infrastructure.

Molina also found that the number of tickets went down significantly, freeing up IT staff to spend more time on projects instead of trouble shooting issues.

“Less people are needed to do operational work so the investment goes into project deliver, quality, and automation,” Gordon concluded. “We felt like we needed something like Splunk to be able to automate. I’m a firm believer in that you can’t automate what you can’t see, so having that in place has given us the ability to really see where we spend our time automating our infrastructure as well.”