Technology for Mission’s Sake

Home-Grown Expertise Gives Provider Unique Abilities
Providence Life Services, Tinley Park, IL, is another technologically ambitious provider, but it has taken its level of expertise a step farther than most. Building on capabilities it first developed in the 1980s, the organization created its own IT company, ProviNET Solutions, a decade ago.

“We started doing data processing in the late 1980s,” says Carl Goodfriend, chief information officer for Providence Life Services and ProviNET Solutions. “In the early 1990s we were approached by other providers in the Chicago area, who asked for help. We started doing [IT] locally for a couple of providers, and gained momentum over the years.”

“Let’s say you’re a nursing home in Chicago and need an EMR [electronic medical record],” says Goodfriend. “You can call a company that will sell their software. But they don’t know that your building is old and needs a wireless system involved.” ProviNET can do infrastructure assessments, software installations and manage basic IT functions for clients, providing a “virtual system administrator” for each client.

An electronic medical record is now being developed, based on a core product by HealthMEDX. “We are about 50 percent through [the process] with our parent company,” says Goodfriend. “A smaller stand-alone community could do it in a year. For a bigger company like us, we are moving slow because we have so many manual processes and custom forms, plus each community has different relationships with hospitals, etc.

ProviNET has a staff of 60, including what Goodfriend calls “very high-end developers and programmers,” people Providence Life Services could never afford to hire otherwise. The in-house expertise has the bonus value of keeping Providence’s own IT costs down—they have not risen in six years. The company serves clients of all kinds—colleges, manufacturers, law firms and more. Because everyone in health care has to have an EMR in the next few years, says Goodfriend, business is good. ProviNET is even getting some of the work that other health-related software developers can’t cover.

As reported by LeadingAge Preparing for the Future