How Box saved two health care giants from squabbling during their merger
When you think of about the merger of two large healthcare organizations, you probably wouldn't imagine them using a cloud file-sharing and collaboration tool to manage the myriad of documents related to the merger. Yet that's exactly what happened when Michigan's two biggest healthcare companies began talks to get together last year.
Tim Purves is IT director at Beaumont Health System, a regional healthcare provider in the Detroit area. He says that when they began merger talks with Henry Ford Health System, another Detroit area health care provider, they needed to find a common way to share the merger files -- and we are talking about thousands of files, as Purves explained to me.
They began by looking at SharePoint as a possible solution, but quickly realized with each of their instances of SharePoint sitting behind a firewall, it created issues around ownership and control of data. Wherever the files lived, that party could control them, and that didn't work for an on-going merger discussion.
It was apparent they needed a more neutral solution, and the cloud seemed like a logical place. After rejecting SharePoint, they began looking at some other options including Box and some software-as-a-service legal management tools, which Purves chose not to name.
Purves was familiar with Box, as were his counterparts at Henry Ford, but it was not necessarily an easy sell to the IT teams on either side. He said when he first brought up Box, IT pushed back. "When we proposed this, I had high-level IT people saying we are not putting this in the cloud," he said.
Purves was the project lead defining the solution. He had experience with Henry Ford, having been CTO there, so he knew the players. He dug into the security aspects of the Box solution, including authentication and control and as he worked with everyone, both parties began to come to an agreement.
As final steps, he put together a mini-proposal where he outlined any issues and explained how they were mitigated. Finally, he launched a mini proof of concept in which he built the structure of the merger, set up the project directory, and took other preliminary steps. By the time he was finished, Purves says he had agreement from all sides.
That's because the solution had a certain simplicity to it.
As Purves put it, "He who uploaded the files owned the data." They used shared folders as a means of sharing files across the system, and each party could invite the other to view the files. That way, if the merger talks ever broke down, they could simply uninvite them and the files would still exist in place, but only the owner would have access. Univiting the other party would take less than an hour.
The ability to audit usage has been a big advantage, too. They can see where documents go and how they are shared, and pick up if a document has been put in the wrong folder.
To appease the security hawks they shut off file syncing, but still allowed mobile access via the browser on the iPad. Users can edit in place in Box in the browser, then upload the edited file to the appropriate folder in the repository. In fact, Beaumont has 5,000 iPads deployed in their organization.
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