How to use IBM mainframes with integrated automation to achieve more cost-effective outcomes
Hospitals and healthcare organizations use mainframes extensively because they are the most efficient way to handle many tasks. Their scalability and adaptability, combined with their reliability, are very difficult to replace. Despite the reputation for being old technology, they’re incredibly adaptable and work pretty well with a lot of modern systems, so you can teach the old dog new tricks to keep up with changing requirements.
To get the most out of their mainframes, organizations have been moving from WLA batch processors, which were labor-intensive and inflexible, to what Gartner has recently coined a SOAP (System Orchestration Automation Platform). It is software that includes the capabilities of the batch processors you’re familiar with, and adds the following features:
- Data flow management
- Workflow orchestration
- Event-driven automation
- Scheduling, monitoring, visibility, and alerting
- Self service automation
- Resource provisioning
Utilizing this powerful tool results in significant efficiency gains because it saves many work hours and reduces errors and downtime significantly. And you don’t even need to invest in expensive infrastructure improvements to implement it.
Hospitals and healthcare organizations are using SOAPs in some innovative ways to deliver better results to internal and external clients.
Use automation to run a hospital’s Infor environment
Large hospitals rely on Infor to provide solutions to a multitude of different areas, and they use a SOAP to get the most performance out of their Infor investment. They need to orchestrate the processes and protocols within a hospital so the system can run efficiently. That’s what a SOAP’s purpose-built to do.
Some of the solutions that Infor provides, and that automation enhances, include:
- Drug safety and compliance
- Patient administration and billing
- Patient management
- PPE and other medical supply logistics
- Employee payroll and benefits administration
- Human resource management (staffing and training)
Automating your hospital’s Infor environment makes it much easier to achieve cost-efficiency goals and smoothly administrate the applications that both patients and employees use. It empowers IT administrators to react swiftly to changes in demand and to operate at scale while managing multiple environments. You can learn even more about how we integrate OpCon, our automation platform, with Infor in this blog. We also have a strong SAP integration. Read more here.
Why your automation platform needs an IBM I connector
IBM has a long history of assisting healthcare organizations. Their mainframes are still vital pieces of the IT infrastructure because of their reliability and efficiency. One area where they lag a bit is the native tool they have for scheduling jobs. The Advanced Job Scheduler (AJS) was great when it first debuted, but you can save much labor by replacing it with a more full-featured automation orchestration platform.
OpCon happens to be the only automation platform with an IBM I connector. Other automation platforms do work with IBM I mainframes, but as a solution, they are not as integrated.
OpCon orchestrates your IBM I system to do the following things very well:
- Message management
- RPA for menu-driven software
- IBM I spool file scanning
- Job Tracking outside of the Agent
- Multi-step jobs execution on the OpCon IBM I agent
- File Transfers
AJS requires manual interventions and monitoring that can eat up valuable work hours, as well as drive IT operators nuts when they must log in after-hours or on weekends to restart a job schedule when there’s an error. With a full-featured automation orchestration platform, your team can spend their time doing more valuable strategic work. For example, the platform automatically restarts schedules and notifies operators of exactly where the error occurred. This way, only severe errors will require the attention of IT staff.
We want to tell you more about how you can get the most out of your IBM mainframe in this blog.
Hospital security: Use self-service automation to control access
Access control, both virtual and physical, is a critical component of hospital data security plans. They must achieve granular access control for the safety of both patients and staff and their data. Hospitals present a unique challenge because they have so many areas that need to be compartmentalized while granting and revoking access to those areas with high frequency.
If all IT security admins had to do was keycard a few doors, it would be easy. But a hospital needs to have different badges for different categories, some of which need to expire automatically. Here’s a sample list:
- Cleaning staff
- Administration personnel
- Lab techs
Add in the requirement for specific badges, such as for newborns, children, and elderly patients, to have location trackers that trigger alarms when they leave their designated zones, and it’s clear that manually handling the administration is not feasible. There’s too great of a chance for an unacceptable error to occur.
The solution that many healthcare IT security departments have chosen is Self Service automation. It’s a simple interface that can be utilized by non-IT end-users, such as front-desk security and ICU nurses, to give out temporary, automatically expiring credentials with the click of a button. IT staff can set up granular access profiles for each area of the hospital and then allow HR end-users to assign and revoke access as personnel move up or move on. This is especially helpful with high-turnover positions.
You can do the same for virtual access control. IT personnel set up permissions by user group and can automatically create log in credentials for all the applications a member of that group requires. For data security and compliance, the automation platform establishes an audit trail that takes some of the fear out of inspections. It is a massive time-saver for IT staff, and it increases security. It works amazingly well for offboarding, when it may be time-sensitive to revoke a user’s access credentials. IT staff can program the revocation process into a workflow, and with the click of a button, you can wipe a user’s badge and virtual credentials from the entire network at once.
Check out this blog about the capabilities of automation platforms to help with onboarding and offboarding if you’d like to know more about how you can achieve it at your organization.
SMA Technologies has leveraged OpCon, our automation orchestration platform, to help several healthcare organizations. One example is CHU Nancy in France, a public research hospital group with over 9,000 employees dispersed across 39 physical sites. We invite you to read their success story.
Our automation experts have decades of experience developing solutions for clients of all sizes and industries, with part of our development team specialized in IBM mainframe integrations. Contact us today to see what we can do for your enterprise.