Transforming IT operations with a modern approach to imaging
Advanced Health Care replaces long hours of manual work with SmartDeploy’s out-of-box, cloud-supported imaging solution
On a mission to provide quality patient care
Demographic changes and widespread chronic diseases and disabilities have led to a growing demand for post-acute care service providers like Advanced Health Care Corporation (AHC). Available nationwide, AHC facilities provide patients with 24-hour nursing care and specialized rehabilitation programs to help them transition successfully from hospital to home.
With thousands of employees spread across 33 locations coast to coast in the U.S., AHC runs like a well-oiled machine. Its rapid growth is facilitated by a small but mighty six-man IT team. Their job is to support approximately 4,500 employees and manage more than a thousand endpoints, all while helping to open new health care and hospice facilities. Without the right tools, this would be an impossible task.
The pain of imaging endpoints manually
A few years ago, things were very different. The team started off with only two IT administrators who had to manage a large fleet of endpoints to serve AHC’s growing operations. Without any way to streamline or automate the process, every new computer had to be set up manually. Each setup included installing the operating system, line of business applications, software updates, driver updates, domain join, and more before a machine could be put into production.
“We had to deal with finicky computers where files sometimes got corrupted for no reason. And it made the whole setup process very challenging for us. It was time consuming and prone to error,” said IT Specialist Kody Gorham. Driver management was also a lot of work as the technicians had to manually search for and download the drivers needed for each device.
During one Windows 7 end-of-life migration project, they had to manually reimage 600 computers one by one using a Windows 10 USB stick. “It was very painful,” admitted Gorham. “Each computer took about two and a half hours to reimage. That adds up to a lot of hours spent just on imaging alone. Things got more complicated when devices at our facilities ran into issues and we had no way of reimaging remote machines efficiently.”
Redefining the imaging process using SmartDeploy
As AHC continued to expand its operations, the team knew that they needed a way to scale. They needed a computer imaging solution that was reliable, efficient, and simple enough to implement right away. After Gorham researched and tested out different imaging solutions, SmartDeploy stood out as the obvious choice. Though no one on the IT team had used computer imaging software before, SmartDeploy’s out-of-box functionality, quick-start videos, and wizard-driven interface made setup relatively easy, without the need for any additional training.
Imaging has since become a much more streamlined, integrated process, thanks to SmartDeploy’s unique layered approach. IT only needs to create and maintain a single Windows golden image, which can be deployed to any PC, regardless of make or model. Applications can be easily slip-stream installed with the corporate OS image or deployed individually using Application Packs.
“Instead of installing everything manually, we’re now able to reimage computers and push out all the standard software with a few simple clicks,” said Jared Gwilliam, AHC’s Helpdesk Team Lead. This has resulted in significant time savings and improved productivity. IT also has the flexibility of deploying images using offline media, via a local network, or over the cloud without a VPN. In preparation for the opening of a new facility, the team was able to get almost three dozen computers imaged and ready in just two days.
AHC is gradually switching from Dell to Lenovo devices, but managing hardware diversity is less of a headache now thanks to SmartDeploy. Gwilliam simply relies on SmartDeploy’s library of prebuilt driver packages, or Platform Packs, which support more than 1,500 business-class hardware models. These driver packs are kept up to date by a team of driver experts.
“It’s really helped to streamline the imaging process for all our machines. Having that golden Windows image and just being able to push a button or load a USB with it is so much easier than doing things manually.”
— Jared Gwilliam, Helpdesk Team Lead
“Being able to reimage computers over the cloud is priceless”
From AHC’s corporate office in Utah, Gwilliam and his teammates remotely support thousands of endpoints spread across their facilities throughout the U.S. To facilitate their work, AHC began shifting its IT operations to the cloud a few years ago but struggled with issues like on-prem hardware failure.
To Gwilliam, one of the best parts about using SmartDeploy is its out-of-box integration with major third-party cloud storage providers like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive. Without needing to pay for a physical server, IT can leverage its corporate Google Drive account to carry out secure and reliable deployments to any of the organization’s 4,500 endpoints, regardless of how they are connected.
Today, the SmartDeploy client is installed on every computer. This enables the team to perform remote console-initiated deployments over the cloud, no matter where endpoints are located. It now takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes to reimage a machine — three times faster than doing it manually. For health care providers like AHC, a Business Associate Agreement with Google helps ensure HIPAA compliance.
With a modern imaging solution like SmartDeploy, Gwilliam and team can serve AHC’s extensive network of health care facilities without having to increase the number of IT staff. Being able to reimage computers remotely also means more effective troubleshooting and less operational downtime. Rather than spend hours trying to resolve tricky technical problems from a distance, Gwilliam can simply reimage remote devices from the SmartDeploy Console and get them up and running quickly.
“Supporting thousands of endpoints across multiple facilities is a lot of work for a small team. But using SmartDeploy for reimaging has definitely made our lives ten times easier. And being able to reimage computers over the cloud is priceless.”
— Jared Gwilliam, Helpdesk Team Lead
Taking health care IT to the next level
Choosing the right computer imaging solution has transformed day-to-day IT operations at AHC. “Supporting thousands of endpoints across multiple facilities is a lot of work for a small team. But using SmartDeploy for reimaging has definitely made our lives ten times easier. And being able to reimage computers over the cloud is priceless,” Gwiliam sums up. This has freed up bandwidth for IT to focus on more high-impact work like developing a robust disaster recovery plan in case of cyberattacks.
Currently, new machines are reimaged via the cloud using USB media containing images that are stored on Google Drive. This is done at the corporate office before devices are shipped off to AHC facilities. There’s also the option to drop ship computers directly to each location and reimage them remotely over the cloud. With more new facilities slated to open soon, the team is set to drive greater growth and performance in the long term.
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