Moving to a cloud architecture to deliver more services to more people while creating new efficiencies for caregiver staff
Partnering with Cisco Meraki to identify and implement bespoke solutions
Investing in a single platform opened up the possibility for rapid and greater expansion
9 locations across the south of the Netherlands
614 rooms with clients
3,048 clients in nursing homes and community and rehabilitation care centers, as well as domestic help staff
The most important thing for us was to see what is happening in the network and be able to act on it quickly. Moving to the cloud has given us a better foundation to build on.
Information Technology Architect at Oktober
Oktober has provided care for the elderly in the Netherlands for over 50 years. With multidisciplinary teams, they offer domestic help, emergency care, rehabilitation, and hospice for the aging population across the country.
The Netherlands faces a two-fold challenge, a pain point that can be found in countries around the world. Among the population, there is a problematic shortage of educated caregivers in the workforce. Meanwhile, larger numbers of people are entering retirement age. More people need care, and fewer people can provide it. This was a significant concern for Oktober, and it was complicated by a technical problem.
In 2015, many of Oktober’s locations didn’t have wireless access. Data servers were on premises and disconnected from other sites. Network switches were provided and contracted by different companies. Telephone systems had various providers, and there was an overgrowth of unconnected critical alarm equipment.
When Maik Berkelmans joined Oktober, he discovered an environment where IT solutions were seen as a problem. IT was complicated. Oktober’s systems were old and problematic. Most importantly, they were expensive.
Where others saw problems, Mr. Berkelmans saw opportunity: digital health. Oktober began a journey toward solving these challenges by making more efficient use of skilled workers’ time, providing more care for those in need, and phasing out legacy systems that no longer provided the worth of their cost and upkeep.
When Berkelmans connected with Cisco Meraki and Cisco Gold Partner Simac IT NL, his vision was clear. His chief requirement was that everything had to run on the same network: the digital highway. All new systems were required to integrate and work together. This need was identified by working closely with the Cisco Meraki team and delivered by the Meraki platform.
Oktober wanted to enable location services and they needed to digitalize their telephony services. All their locations needed complete Wi-Fi coverage for employees and clients and they needed to move all local servers into a cloud infrastructure. Most importantly, if they were to open their infrastructure to the internet, these connected solutions had to be secure.
By working in harmony, Cisco Meraki and Oktober solved the connectivity problem by linking Oktober’s nine locations with primary and secondary network connections with a 4G backup. Hospitality and location sensors were installed. Using advanced wireless access points, mesh networks were fine-tuned to bring high-speed coverage to every corner of every building.
With reliable connectivity spread across the entire organization, Oktober adopted the Meraki dashboard to manage care and services. Employees changed from wrestling with outdated systems to using personalized tools based on their job and access levels, monitoring clients in all aspects, improving the operation of facilities, and making more efficient use of valuable time.
In 2022, IT is no longer a problem. Integrated networking systems are at the forefront of Oktober’s strategy and vision for the future.
Information Technology Architect at Oktober
The paper-based client records previously stored locally have been replaced by digitalized records that are part of the secure cloud network. On-premises servers have been phased out in favor of cloud storage so that critical information can be accessed locally or remotely by the caregivers who need it. All the essential information needed to deliver the best care possible is available across the organization.
Every caregiver now has a network-connected smartphone, and the care they provide is no longer bound to a single Oktober facility. Instead, employees are provided with a location-based schedule according to where they’re most needed, saving them time in transit as well as the environmental and financial costs of travel.
With the connected systems and clear views into all areas of their network, Oktober can identify and customize the care each client needs and feed that information directly into the employee dashboard. This enables caregivers to know what services are needed, what special circumstances may exist, and how to ensure a patient gets the best possible treatment.
The new system is highly secure, meeting AVG standards of security. However, Oktober has put even more safeguards in the system by controlling what information can be accessed, when, and by whom.
“If you are scheduled at location A, then you only have insight into the client files of that location, and only for that day,” says Berkelmans. “You can only see what you need to see.”
In the upgraded system, many more clients can be remotely monitored on a 24-hour basis. Remote check-ins can be performed for less urgent issues, so caregivers spend more time with patients instead of spending time traveling from location to location. This provides a path for efficiency and sustainability as the need for care grows, while the workforce provides better care and has more visibility through multimedia connections. As for critical alarms, the IQ Messenger delivers alerts when clients need immediate help.
All of these systems are integrated into the same network, giving everyone involved peace of mind.
Oktober is continuing to build out their capabilities on the foundation of the stable connected network. In the near future, they will be introducing more efficiencies through process automation—using data insights to optimize critical care and operational processes throughout the organization. They’re also working on real-time monitoring of health via smart devices and AI solutions, like Kepler Vision, to detect and proactively monitor emergencies and behavioral changes.
One of the greatest strengths of the Meraki platform is the ease of integration via their robust open APIs and webhooks. The depth of their capabilities stands out in the market. This functionality allows Oktober to further optimize the caregiver digital processes and is seen as critical in the future of caregiving. In addition, the five-year Cisco Meraki Enterprise Agreement for our licenses offers additional benefits such as consumption flexibility and financial predictability.
When speaking to the Meraki partnership, Berkelmans describes how he is “most proud of what we’ve achieved together. You need commitment from within the organization. The management has to believe you and trust you, and you need technology partners who are willing to listen and advise the fit-for-purpose solution based on their expertise.”
To surmise the need for connectivity in healthcare, Hein Dekkers, Director of Digital Acceleration in the Netherlands, stated, “Anytime, anywhere access to healthcare is crucial. Reliable and secure connectivity for the technological solutions and systems used in healthcare is vital in this regard. The need for technology is further emphasized by the increasing demand for care and labor shortages, both to support and facilitate care workers to continue doing their work, which is their passion, and to meet the inevitable growing demand for care. We need to act now and join forces to ensure a safe and inclusive future for all. This vision has led Oktober to recognize and unlock the full potential of the much-needed digital acceleration in healthcare.”