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With its own business and its customers’ wellness programs dependent on availability, Healthways needed a clear, documented and proven plan for maintaining always-on business.
Consultants from Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) assessed the impact of downtime on Healthways’ key business processes, systems, applications and data, then developed and implemented a best practice plan for business continuity, disaster recovery and compliance.
Healthways leverages more than 30 years of research and experience to deliver wellness programs that increase longevity and reduce lifestyle risks for long-term good health. Businesses, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities all pay Healthways to make these programs available online to their employees as an incentivized benefit, which in turn leads to fewer sick days and increased productivity.
To deliver that positive impact, participants must remain consistently engaged in the programs, and that can only be possible if they have uninterrupted access to the Healthways systems that support them.
“If an application doesn’t work or people can’t get someone on the phone, they get frustrated,” explains Andy Wyley, Business Continuity Manager at Healthways. “It’s the same for our wellness programs, but the situation is even more sensitive because it involves each participants’ insurance packages and health savings accounts. One missed digital course or coaching session could cost a participant two hundred dollars or more, so making sure they have non-stop access to our services is priority number one.”
To accomplish that goal, Healthways needed to implement a business continuity plan that accurately identified the business processes of nearly 70 departments across the enterprise and the impact of downtime on those processes.
The company also needed to be able to produce detailed documentation attesting to the validity of the plan at a moment’s notice to meet compliance demands. In addition to ever-present industry regulations and certification requirements, customer audits occur frequently and sometimes unpredictably. Current and potential customers alike want evidence that there is a tested, up-to-date plan in place, so having the ability to provide reliable proof quickly was a must.
When Wyley joined Healthways in 2010, the company already had Sungard AS’ Living Disaster Recovery Planning System (LDRPS) in place, but it needed to be upgraded. Instead of simply carrying over existing data, Wyley leveraged a prior relationship with Sungard AS consultants to rebuild the system from scratch for a full-scale business continuity revival.
“Within my first couple of weeks at Healthways, we did the upgrade, began the data mapping exercise (DME) to identify the systems supporting key processes and customized all of the screens,” says Wyley. “Then, we were ready to begin the business impact analysis. With the help of my Sungard AS consultant, we conducted in-depth, face-to-face interviews with our business partners across the enterprise to determine where the risks existed and the business impact of downtime,” Wyley continues.
By inputting fresh data into the upgraded tool, Healthways was able to refocus on the most critical processes that would impact its ability to meet contractual demands, certification requirements and revenue goals. Building that information into Sungard AS business continuity software solutions made it a fluid part of the program, which enabled the delivery of more accurate priority scores. Armed with powerful reports from the business continuity software solutions, Wyley continued interacting with each department to determine an action plan.
“You need everyone to be engaged in the process because this is going to end up being their business continuity and recovery plan,” notes Wyley. “Allowing them to be a part of the decisions is a big part of that. We discussed what was important and why, and agreed on what the next steps were going to look like. In that way, everyone was more likely to embrace the plan and share it with their teams.”
Beyond the Sungard AS business continuity software solutions, Sungard AS consultants provided a formal methodology for structuring data, building plans, reporting and identifying risks. They also built and tested a prototype and assisted in the rollout and user training—all backed by 24x7 support that continues today.
“I really don’t know how we would have managed this without the Sungard AS tools, but Sungard AS consulting services were off the charts,” says Wyley. “There really weren’t any issues. Because of their responsiveness throughout the implementation process, and my entire relationship with Sungard AS, I’ve always felt like I was their only customer.”
Now, Healthways leverages its work with Sungard AS in its enterprise-wide business continuity and disaster recovery program. Companies that partner with Healthways can rest assured knowing their employees will have access to their wellness programs at all times, under any circumstances. The company can also respond more quickly to audits with clear documentation that proves its ongoing readiness for uninterrupted business.
“Every time we go through any type of certification, accreditation or regulatory audit, I’m always given the highest ranking when it comes to our programs,” reports Wyley. “I’d love to take the credit for it, but it really does come down to the continuity software tools and my Sungard AS consultants.”
“I’m constantly validated in my decision to partner with Sungard AS,” continues Wyley. “If I want to highlight particular risks across the enterprise, I can do that with the AssuranceCM tool with a couple of clicks. I’m not analyzing the information on my own. I’m not researching and investigating and having multiple conversations. I’m just simply reporting on the issues that matter most.”
As Healthways continues its transition to Sungard AS’ Assurance business continuity planning software, Wyley anticipates further benefits. “From an end user perspective, it’s web browseragnostic and much easier to interact with,” she says. “And, with the added functionality of incident management and a testing component, it enables us to have a more holistic approach to continuity.”
For other companies wondering how to implement similar business continuity and disaster recovery programs, Wyley reflects on her own experience with Sungard AS and offers this advice: “Don’t do it on your own,” she says. “Choose a vendor you can trust and invest in consulting on the front end, so you get it right the first time.”