Shirley Ryan AbilityLab: Fueling Patient Care with Highly Secure, Connected Infrastructure

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is a leading physical medicine and rehabilitation “translational” research hospital in Chicago. After several decades at a longstanding site, AbilityLab was planning to build a new, state-of-the-art healthcare facility a few blocks away—and transform its approach to patient care. To support its vision of innovative, technology-enabled services, AbilityLab enlisted Burwood
Group to architect and implement a highly available, high-performance secure IT infrastructure.

The Challenge: Develop enterprise-grade architecture prior to the
building’s completion

To seamlessly provide patient care in the new 1.2 million square-foot, 242-bed facility, AbilityLab needed sophisticated wireless, security, and data center capabilities to be ready on day one. Its requirements encompassed thousands of connected devices, from infusion pumps, heart monitors and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking systems, to hospital and patient wearables, and in-room entertainment devices. Numerous technologies, stakeholders and building contractors would be involved, creating a major project management challenge and requiring expertise in diverse technologies.

In addition, continuity of patient care was essential. Therefore, AbilityLab needed Burwood to design, test, and begin to implement the new infrastructure while the building was being planned and constructed. Then, Burwood would rapidly migrate the entire data center to ensure connectivity and smooth operations on opening day.

The Solution: A highly available, high-performance, secure data center and wireless network

The infrastructure design included a high speed, resilient network and data center architecture designed to withstand multiple ISP or server failures. Burwood consultants collaborated with AbilityLab  stakeholders to plan the infrastructure and implementation schedule, working with construction schematics as the building was being planned. The Burwood team helped manage technology vendors and worked with the facility engineers, general contractor, and countless construction subcontractors for smooth implementation.

To ensure security, Burwood deployed VMware for microsegmentation—assigning security policies to individual data center applications and workloads. The team deployed Palo Alto Networks firewalls for east-west, server-to-server, security, as well as perimeter firewalls to protect the data center.

Using Cisco Identity Services Engine, Burwood categorized the types of hospital, personnel and patient-owned devices that would or could be used in the new environment. Then, the team assigned security policies to each category and user role for streamlined protection.

Burwood Group Services

  • Project Management
  • Infrastructure
  • Networking
  • Wireless
  • Security

The Outcome: Tech-enabled care in a truly cutting-edge facility

With a cutting-edge design, a well-planned implementation and data center move, as well as advance testing, Burwood Group ensured a successful opening day for AbilityLab’s new facility on a tight timeline. To ensure that caregivers could smoothly adopt their new technology platform without missing a beat in care delivery, Burwood provided comprehensive training before opening day. The result? AbilityLab was able to provide cutting-edge healthcare delivery from the moment its new state-of-the-art facility opened its doors.

    “Burwood’s experience, project management expertise, and knowledge of numerous healthcare technologies helped us achieve our vision of a truly cutting-edge care environment. Today, our patients, clinicians, and support staff can share important information readily, take advantage of important innovations in medical devices, and simply stay connected wherever they are—while keeping sensitive data and networks secure.”
    — Vice President, Technology, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab