Nonprofit Delivers Healthcare and Hope to Marginalized Patients Using Cloud Services
With a mission to “bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair," PIH is active in some of the most remote areas on earth.
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
Partners In Health (PIH), which provides healthcare services to underserved regions around the world, wanted to allocate more of its scarce resources to enacting its mission and enable reliable worldwide communication and collaboration. PIH replaced its incompatible email systems with cost-effective Microsoft Office 365 and Azure cloud services. Today, virtual teams—working from jungles in Africa to the mountains of Mexico to remote villages in Russia—are building partnerships that give hope to those in need.
Because PIH never had an IT budget that allowed for standardized communication and collaboration technologies, most employees used their personal email accounts to interact with colleagues. The plethora of incompatible email services made it impossible to communicate seamlessly across the organization or to send out important emails to mobilize everyone in response to the latest health crisis. Also, PIH did not have an accurate global access list or a clear understanding of employee identities across the organization.
“We partner with various governmental health organizations and ask them to identify the poorest, most marginalized communities in their country, and that’s where we start,” says Dave Mayo, Chief Information Officer. “So you can imagine the IT challenges we’ve encountered: issues with power, Internet connectivity, and the lack of local IT resources. Yet our healthcare providers were delivering effective services with essentially no technical support. Really smart people out in the field were creating what they needed to get the job done. Before leaving on assignment, they’d buy routers and switches and laptops and take them into the jungle.”
Disjointed communications and no collaboration tools hit at the heart of the nonprofit’s aim to build capacity for sustainable, community-based healthcare services through partnerships with local resources—and to share lessons learned around the world. It was a problem that resonated with Clinical Program Officer, Shin Daimyo.
“For PIH, reliable communications can truly mean the difference between life and death,” says Shin. “Haiti has fewer than 10 psychiatrists for the entire country of 10 million people, and we are working hard to train local resources to try to build capacity. So when a clinician in Haiti has a patient who is psychotic and suicidal, we really need instant, dependable communications to support that clinician and all our resources in the field.”