SmartWaterPAML (Pathology  Associates Medical Laboratory) is one of the largest reference laboratories in the United States, serving over 100 hospitals, more than 25,000 clients, and several hundred thousand patients a year. But although there is an ever-increasing demand for their services, PAML had to institute a moratorium on creating new billing services, because their billing systems couldn’t keep up. “Our work schedule gives us a four-hour window each night to process the day’s accounts,” says Sonny Varadan, CIO of PAML, “but the application was taking longer than that to complete the job. We had billing clerks coming in and not being able to start their day because the system was busy.”

To address the problem, PAML decided to redesign their system architecture, evolving from a single machine to a more scalable, distributed configuration, and making use of modern technologies such as Web services. That meant they would need to port their billing application from D3 (a MultiValue database) to some other technology. “We wanted to minimize how much rewriting we would have to do, given the fact that the system had evolved over the last twenty to thirty years,” says Varadan. “and we decided that Caché was our best option. Caché supports MultiValue technology, so it provided the easiest migration path. The learning curve for our D3 developers was pretty short.”

Over the course of the migration, PAML converted approximately 1,500 routines from D3 to InterSystems’ MVBasic, the majority of which were ported without any problems. According to Varadan, the conversion process also highlighted some problems that existed in the original code. “There were some very complicated billing queries that could take hours to execute,” he recalls. “In the course of moving to Caché, we were able to identify and fix those problematic queries. Now they run in minutes.”

Other performance gains have been similar. Initial results from the newly deployed Caché-based system show that the end-of-day processing which used to take 4-6 hours, now runs in slightly over an hour. The end-of-month processing time has dropped from about 47 hours to 6 hours. As a result, the system is available to all shifts, right from the start of their day. Productivity has increased and PAML has stopped turning away new billing service business. Says Varadan, “I am no longer concerned that the system won’t be able to keep up with increased demand.”

I am no longer concerned that the system won’t be able to keep up with increased demand.

Sonny Varadan, CIO

  • MultiValue technology
  • High performance
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In addition to enjoying renewed growth, PAML’s developers plan to take advantage of the new capabilities Caché brings to the table. “Caché gives us a lot of flexibility going forward because it can interoperate with a wide range of modern technologies,” Varadan says. He reports that PAML’s next project is to re-engineer their workflows, using Web services to automate data entry from their clients’ systems. And they are investigating using InterSystems DeepSee® to embed some reporting functions that are currently handled by a third-party tool.

Varadan is confident that PAML has chosen the right technology and the right technology partner to support growth and new challenges well into the future. He concludes: “Throughout it all, InterSystems has been phenomenally good to us. In my sixteen years working in IT, InterSystems is one of the best software vendors I’ve ever come across.”