Depending on the industry, the Managed File Transfer (MFT) experience may vary in terms of the initial decision, the implementation and even the key benefits. I recently sat down with Ragan McBride – a Business Process Automation professional with 13 years of experience – to get some exclusive insights into the MFT process within the healthcare industry.
Zak: What was your situation like before VIVA Health adopted MFT? What problems was the organization facing?
Ragan: Overall, there was no consistency in terms of the way file transfers were managed – everyone seemed to be doing them in their own way. Even people within the same IT group would schedule things differently and would put files on different servers. It got to be very problematic. We didn’t have control of our files, with so much duplicate data floating out there. And there was no way for us to manage file transfers from a single location.
Q: Your organization opted for an MFT solution as a remedy. How did that decision come about?
Ragan: It was a collaborative effort. We talked to people in numerous departments to find out if there were any major needs that we hadn’t considered. We also spent time reviewing our options with these departments, and talking with the CIO to determine our most pressing needs. But at the end of the day, in a healthcare organization, the IT department is really the one that must identify the needs and make the decision.
Q: And what were those pressing needs?
Ragan: Essentially, it all came down to auditability. We needed a more efficient way to do archiving and be better prepared to answer questions that could come up in audits, without killing ourselves later on. We also needed the ability to transfer files using a tool that centralized the process.
Q: You talked about the needs of other departments, as well as your own. We’re curious to know how many of those needs revolved around legal requirements as opposed to features/capabilities you simply wanted.
Ragan: Satisfying legal requirements was one of the primary reasons for switching to an MFT solution. In the healthcare industry, everything needs to be encrypted for HIPAA. For archival purposes, we have to keep certain claims data for a specified amount of time before cleaning it up. Basically, we can’t have files sitting out there indefinitely – the regulators always take notice. So we needed a healthcare managed file transfer solution that would put us in compliance with all the various regulations.
Q: Aside from addressing legal issues, what were some of the immediate benefits your organization saw by moving an MFT solution?
Ragan: We saw an immediate improvement in terms of workflow and have saved an incredible amount of time by eliminating a lot of repetitive, manual processes for tasks like pulling down files and loading them into SQL. We’ve saved somewhere close to two-and-a-half man years just on file transfers alone, so the ROI has been quantifiable.
Q: Were there any big roadblocks in the way of adopting MFT?
Ragan: Nothing major, but I would caution others to be mindful of how MFT will work with other internal systems. They all need to work together seamlessly, so there will be a period where you have to identify the best ways to ensure this happens. In many cases, different systems produce different outputs. So you need to rename certain files, which can get somewhat complex if you need to start writing custom scripts. The important thing to keep in mind is that the solution to your integration problems is probably embedded in your MFT solution – you just need to spend some time upfront figuring it out. But it’s worth it because MFT helps improve your workflows, saves you time and removes hassle in so many ways.
How has MFT adoption evolved within your industry? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below. Thanks!