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The Maria Middelares General Hospital in Ghent has not missed the mobile train. The use of mobile devices and BYOD is widespread there. Doctors buy their own laptops, based on the advice of the IT department. There is a list of preapproved laptops, and they can make their purchase through the hospital. For smartphones and tablets, they have a free choice, but advice is also offered. For other members of staff, there is a list of supported devices.
Security has always been the most important factor in the mobile policy. When it was decided five years ago only to support Blackberry devices, this was motivated by the assumption that other environments were less secure. IT Director Marc Monballieu: “Because iPhone offered more possibilities and a serious incident had occurred with Blackberry, we went to the market looking for mobile enterprise management tools.”
The Hospital’s list of requirements was not small: a secure system, a base level with a minimum number of features plus the necessary upgrade possibilities, security (email, contacts, calendar), a certification authority to ensure that only predetermined devices have access to the data, self-service possibilities and a partner with expertise in multiple fields. “We found various all-inclusive standard solutions, but were appalled at the prices. For a long time we weren’t sure whether we would take this any further, but in the end we put our trust in the solution from Proximus, which was still Belgacom at that time.”
Proximus guaranteed a total package with a range of services adding up to a solid end-to-end solution. The process started with intense consultation with the Hospital’s IT and HR departments, and a final design based on engineering best practices. A mobile strategy was defined and the solution was implemented. Proximus also took care of the migration from the old Exchange environment to a new environment, and is now responsible for maintenance and support. “One essential point was that we wanted an entry-level product with which we could read mails, consult the planning, make calls and manage all devices easily. Proximus understood that we only wanted a limited constellation at this stage, and that was decisive. Their proposal was excellent, with minimal constraints and competitively pricing. On the basis of it, we can grow organically. ”
Other plus points in the proposal were the certification authority and the self-service aspect. “We couldn’t immediately find the first of these things with other suppliers, but it has its advantages for letting you check who wants access to which data. Self-service was also crucial for us. The user identifies himself with ‘I want to use this’ and is immediately up and running.”
Finally, support was another vital factor in the decision, since the Hospital only has a few internal members of staff in the IT department. “That’s normal in our sector, but these people obviously don’t know everything in detail. In our model we provide the first-line support and maybe the second-line support too, but for our infrastructure we invariably have to rely on others.”
The Hospital is housed in a brand-new complex in Ghent’s green belt. It employs a total of 2,000 people, including 180 doctors. It has 631 beds, 23 high-tech intervention rooms and 64,800 m2 of floor space.
Marc Monballieu is IT Director at the Maria Middelares General Hospital
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