Just-in-time IT refresh: Juniper Aged Care transforms before lockdown

Juniper Aged Care employees celebrate Aged Care Employee Day. Image courtesy of Juniper.

Juniper Aged Care, a Western Australian aged care provider, underwent a whole-of-business IT refresh earlier this year. This included shifting to a cloud-first model and replacing over 10,000 items of technology equipment across the organisation. A number of disparate business-critical applications had to be integrated for the desired benefits to be realised.

As a non-profit organisation providing care and support services for older Western Australians, Juniper Aged Care was previously heavily reliant on on-premises infrastructure, which required substantial capital expenditure. Its ICT team of 9 had to manage manual and heavily customisable integrations, which were vastly complex to maintain.

Juniper Aged Care used the Dell Boomi platform for the overhaul. Dan Beeston, ICT Manager at Juniper, said the core driver behind the overhaul was to enable greater efficiency across its operations so more resources could be invested in caring for residents and clients.

Legacy Infrastructure

“As a not-for-profit organisation, every dollar we save is another dollar we can invest in our residents and clients’ health and wellbeing, giving them the best possible quality of life,” he said. “We were previously reliant on on-premise infrastructure which required heavy capital expenditure, but by moving to the cloud and digital technologies, we shifted our IT spend to operational expenditure, so we have more capital to invest in building better facilities.”

One of the key issues Beeston and his IT team had to overcome was that Juniper’s critical business applications were disjointed and relied on manual integrations which were extremely complex.

Resident and incident information was also duplicated across multiple systems, making it difficult and time-consuming for Juniper’s team to locate and extract data to inform business decisions. 

Its infrastructure included a legacy SAN Environment (8 Blades), with Hyper-V and 175 Windows Servers all networked with Cisco switching. Additionally, it had old software on unsupported operating systems.

To streamline Juniper’s response to the aged care sector’s compliance and governance requirements, Juniper aimed to centralise critical data into a single Risk Management platform called ionMy – that required integration with several other systems including iCare (Clinical care), Epicor (ERP), Chris21 (Payroll) and Okta (Identity and access management). Manually integrating these critical systems would be far too complex and costly, so the company sought a solution that would simplify and automate the integration of these digital assets.

Choosing a Platform

Juniper Aged Care urgently needed to improve efficiencies, so it chose to completely vacate its data centres and move everything to the cloud.

“We moved all workloads to an AWS Estate on infrastructure as a service. Any new software since the new governance structure has been software as a service and we are currently reviewing Core on-premise workloads (ERP, Payroll, Clinical and Scheduling systems),” said Beeston.

Beeston said Juniper ultimately chose Boomi’s integration platform as a service (iPaaS) due to its ability to easily break down data silos by integrating on-premise and cloud applications with a simple drag-and-drop user interface. “One of my key concerns was that I didn’t want the solution to require a dedicated integration developer – not only would this be a significant additional expense, but it would severely impact business continuity when they left the business,” Beeston said. 

“With all our critical data in a single platform, we’re ensuring governance and regulatory compliance across the organisation and slashed the time it takes to generate reports. This means we can more regularly keep our board members up to date on any risks in the organisation.” 

Since successfully completing the integration, Juniper has improved productivity across the business and devoted more resources to resident and client care.

“We’ve been able to drive efficiencies and free people from manual administrative tasks,” he said. “Prior, each of our ten key systems had its own set of credentials so carers would have to log in 10 different times, remember ten separate passwords, and enter the same data multiple times. This has all been replaced by a single sign-on. With the shift to web-based applications, we’ve now replaced thousands of desktop terminals with mobile tablets so our carers can spend more time interacting with the residents where they are comfortable rather than behind the scenes at nurse’s stations doing data entry.”

Technology Refresh in the Time of COVID-19

“When lockdowns hit Western Australian, we were lucky to have already conducted the whole-of-business IT refresh. Because we had that visibility across our data, apps, people and processes, it was a lot easier to manage our IT environment alongside the various changes imposed by Covid-19,” said Beeston.

When it came to the corporate teams working remotely, it was necessary to allow corporate and essential facility staff to stay connected inside and outside its premises. The Juniper Aged Care IT team worked with AWS to connect 1880 employees and residents across its 26 facilities.

This enabled its residents to connect with family members and health professionals via video calls, as many grappled with the limitations put on visitations. “Rather than our IT team being bogged down with the daily whirlwind, the new level of automation in the business made it simpler to provide extra support and deliver new services,” said Beeston.

“With the move to a managed service provider, they remediated what they could, however we ended up replacing all WAN, LAN, WiFi and UPS equipment, in addition to Telephony equipment. Now we are working on our mobile phone fleet too.”

The Next Phase

Beeston said the next phase in Juniper’s journey was implementing Boomi’s Master Data Hub to gain 360-degree visibility across its ecosystem, ensuring consistent data throughout the business and a single source of truth to enable data analytics.

Now we have control of our data governance we are starting to create data lakes for future business intelligence.

“Our previously-isolated systems meant data was entered differently in each separate system which made it impossible to run any analytics or gain any insight from our data,” he said. “With consistent data in a central source, we’ll be able to deliver even greater value to the business.

In addition to reviewing its SaaS application migration for the lifted core applications, Beeston revealed that some other backend services that were lifted and shifted now need to be remediated. “This involves SharePoint 365, which includes Document Management and also our ‘traditional’ file store to OneDrive 365,” he commented.

“We are currently implementing a catering system, and a maintenance system under the new ICT governance. This is in addition to looking at operational technology and bringing these into the ICT eco-system, to integrate and bring ‘on the network’,” he concluded.

Boomi Perspectives

Nicholas Lambrou, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) at Boomi, said there was enormous pressure on the Aged Care sector in the wake of the current Royal Commission, and digital technologies had a pivotal role to play in ensuring the best possible care. 

“Emerging technologies such as IoT and smart devices can help ensure residents receive the exact care they need, the moment they need it – whether that’s through connected monitors, blood pressure devices, or even AI-driven fall detection,” he said. “But beyond these critical care aspects, and perhaps counter-intuitively, data plays a pivotal role in personalising the experience for residents. Carers can know straight away what a resident’s preferences are – from their favourite music to the activities they like to do each day, to how they like their tea or coffee – all with a swipe on a mobile device.”

These are all exciting possibilities, but integrating these new technologies with legacy systems can be a handbrake on innovation.

“Juniper is setting the standard for aged care and ensuring it can take advantage of all the benefits digital technologies have to offer.”

Ajit Melarkode, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) at Boomi, said technological complexity has no place in a sector tasked with as much responsibility as the aged care industry.

“Like its industry counterparts, Juniper’s top priority is to maximise dollars spent on resident and patient care – that means the technologies that underpin their businesses can’t be complex to implement and maintain, code-heavy or expensive, especially for a not-for-profit organisation.”

“Juniper’s transition to a cloud-first model not only paved the way to the adoption of newer, advanced technologies and services as its stakeholders needs changed, but allowed it to move away from legacy integration to build the foundation of a connected and data-powered organisation. In the process of linking Juniper’s core ICT assets, the Boomi iPaaS has removed data silos, automated previously manual processes, and removed extensive coding needs.”