Abano Healthcare Group Limited is one of the largest and fastest-growing trans-Tasman dental groups, employing over 2,000 people across more than 220 dental practices in Australia and New Zealand. While this blistering pace of expansion may be the envy of many, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It has set itself the goal of becoming the leading dental provider in the region with NZD 1 billion in revenue.
But with 120 dental practices in New Zealand and more than 100 practices in Australia (and growing), Abano Healthcare needed an integrated IT system to bring together its support offices and drive its rapidly growing operations. A consolidated IT system spanning Australia and New Zealand would simplify IT access and collaboration across the business, achieve economies of scale and reinforce data security.
Microsoft’s “Cloud-First” approach and strong credentials in enterprise data security resonated with Abano Healthcare’s vision for digital transformation. “There are a thousand reasons for going with Azure and Microsoft. The primary reason was to keep data secure. The structure of Azure and Office 365 just works for us and Microsoft provided all the infrastructure so there’s no need for separate providers,” said Mr. Radich, Chief Information Officer at Abano Healthcare.
In terms of data sovereignty, Microsoft was a perfect match as well, as it had data centers located in Sydney; Australia’s data regulations require that all medical records stay onshore. Operations in Australia were the first to move to the cloud, starting in December 2017, followed by New Zealand in March 2018. The transition was enabled by Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Inde Technology, which Abano Healthcare selected for their extensive experience in Azure migration. The team worked well with Abano Healthcare’s other service providers and relevant partners and was instrumental in facilitating the transition, offering the company CSP licensing.
Previously, the company needed two separate credentials for logins and sometimes even manual updates to data. With Active Directory and the consolidation of data across the three back offices in Australia and New Zealand, support office staff now utilise a single authentication for secure login from any device for the entire enterprise and other cloud applications.
The company also consolidated its finance and reporting systems as well as data warehouses in both countries to a single view via Power BI, paving the way for smarter reporting. Now, information gets to the right person at the right time. Any authorised Abano Healthcare user can access group-wide and country-specific financials on-demand, while employees can track their KPIs via their mobile devices, dynamically managing individual productivity on a daily basis. Mr. Radich added, “Power BI-based dashboards are linked to core KPIs of every dental practice and clinician and secured against the username/password in Active Directory.”
Gone were the days when the company had to lease virtual machines and servers 24/7. The company can now configure automatic shutdown cycles within Azure for more cost savings. Data warehouse processes have also been streamlined for accessibility while being more cost-efficient. These new-found capabilities are positioning Abano Healthcare for unparalleled scalability to drive its trans-Tasman business.
During the transition to the cloud, the team at Abano Healthcare started discovering the true value of Microsoft collaboration tools. Conference calls for meetings were the usual practice but they were expensive and painful to set up.
It was only when they started on Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and Office 365 that they found new levels of collaboration efficiencies. “We used it extensively for the migration project and easily invited partners to the conversation all by just hitting the Skype button,” said Mr. Radich.
The advantages of “one-click communication” were evident during the Queensland Commonwealth Games held in early April 2018, when workflows were almost disrupted due to road closures which affected the company’s Queensland office. Thanks to Office 365 and Skype for Business, productivity purred on the support office continued provisioning IT resources and support services to employees across the Group without a hitch.
“Skype for Business made everything work,” said Mr. Radich. So seamless was it that no one knew the support office employees had been working remotely from home. The ease of productivity has certainly caught the attention of the Abano Healthcare leadership with Richard Keys, Chief Executive Officer of Abano Healthcare saying, “The ability for our staff to access information, from anywhere, is already delivering benefits for our business and I’m excited about what we can do with this technology in the future.”
Abano Healthcare now has plans to expand the use of Office 365 across the Group. To date, it has created an intranet using SharePoint, while practices in New Zealand are embarking on Yammer, an enterprise social networking platform, which sees employees dynamically exchanging information in self-organised clinician forums. On Azure, Abano Healthcare spins up new environments to test ideas quickly.
Abano Healthcare is blazing the trail when it comes to digital transformation. The company is the first in their industry to successfully transition all back offices to the public cloud, setting the foundation for more effective adoption of future technologies.
To keep them on track for their NZD 1 billion annual revenue milestone, the company needs to innovate, and that is exactly what the Abano Healthcare leadership has set its sights on. As part of the company’s next phase of digital transformation, it will be utilising a range of search technologies including the Microsoft Bot Framework, and voice-driven search capabilities to access corporate information which Microsoft is keen to help develop.
Now on Azure, Abano Healthcare spins up new environments to test ideas quickly, such as their new dental plan which allows patients to access their accounts via social logins and more. The company has also executed a proof-of-concept on the Bot Framework, developing a chatbot that does a ‘dental triage’ capturing all conversations, opening the way for more targeted and faster diagnosis while driving appointment bookings on-the-spot.
Abano Healthcare’s success at digital transformation has not gone unnoticed. It was named a finalist for the 2018 CIO Awards in New Zealand which celebrates business transformation through digital technologies. As the saying goes, “Disrupt or be disrupted”. With the Microsoft Cloud, Abano Healthcare has made the move to a future-ready business powered by a diverse set of Cloud-First technologies, including Azure machine learning and AI capabilities. To further augment its innovative edge, the company will be launching a technology incubator.
The transformation to a smarter and more agile trans-Tasman business is on the horizon.