Sacred Heart Hospital
Sacred Heart Hospital
Manually sorting through their archive to find thousands of emails needed for a discovery order was painstaking for Sacred Heart Hospital's IT staff, reports Angela Moscaritolo.

Having to retrieve hundreds or even thousands of email messages for testimony in a court case might send an IT department into panic mode. That's what happened late last year, at Sacred Heart Hospital, in Eau Claire, Wis.

A court case involving hospital staff hit and IT was court ordered to dig up all of the email messages an employee had sent over the past year and a half for evidence. The IT staff knew they had the emails in question — they began archiving email in 2006, as mandated by Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).  They also knew it would be a daunting task.

The 20-person IT staff had to painstakingly search the archive vault manually to retrieve all the emails.

Brian Jorgenson, systems administrator, Sacred Heart Hospital“We spent almost three days trying to search for those emails and trying to get them exported,” says Brian Jorgenson (left), systems administrator, Sacred Heart Hospital.

If they had an effective, searchable email archiving system in place, retrieving the emails would have probably taken 10 to 15 minutes.

Sacred Heart Hospital has 1,300 employees and has been around since 1889. They are an affiliate of the Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS), a system of 13 hospitals based out of Springfield, Illinois.

With nearly all of the hospital's 1,300 employees using email, the incident prompted Jorgensen to start looking into getting a better archiving system in place.

Jorgensen reviewed a number of email archiving systems including GFI Mail Archiver, Sunbelt Software USA's Sunbelt Exchange Archiver (SEA) and Symantec Enterprise Vault, but the front runner was ArcMail Defender.

Dean Richardson, chief marketing officer, ArcMail Technology.“Email archiving is keeping a copy of every single email that comes into or leaves an organization. In real time, any time a message is sent or received through their mail system, we archive and index and make it searchable — quickly,” says Dean Richardson (right), chief marketing officer, ArcMail Technology.

Richardson says that ArcMail Technology's value proposition to the market is that ArcMail Defender is, by comparison, “easy to buy, easy to install, easy to manage, easy to use.”

While evaluating email archiving solutions on the market, Jorgenson was impressed with ArcMail Technology's live web-demonstration of how the product works. He saw that email could be searched by subject, sender, recipient, attachment name. Also, users can search for emails within a date range or search for full-text. The system is, “very straightforward, very upfront,” Jorgenson says. Cost, ease of use and the end user experience were all factors in Jorgenson's choice in picking ArcMail Defender.

The cost of the product depends on the amount of storage a company needs. Sacred Heart went with an eight-terabyte unit, which cost them $24,000. As for how long that unit will sustain them — if Sacred Heart's employees use reasonably light email — each employee contributing 20 emails a day at 25 kilobytes per email, the unit will sustain them for about 20 years, Richardson says.  

Sacred Heart rolled out ArcMail Defender in Nov. 2007. Deployment went well, Jorgenson says, and he was surprised at how easy it was.

“We had it up and working and were archiving email within one hour. I was very impressed. Typically most deployments of this scale have issues — you have to call the vendor, but this one went smooth without a hitch,” Jorgenson says.

Sacred Heart has now been using ArcMail for almost a year and since deployment, the system has worked “flawlessly,” he adds.

The system allows for users to search their own email and restore it if needed. It also allows higher-ups to search and view all the mail across the enterprise, said Richardson says.

Jorgenson said he has gotten a lot of positive feedback from colleagues about ArcMail Defender. He says that employees have come up to him telling him how easy it was for them to find and restore emails.

ArcMail Defender has provided Sacred Heart a number of benefits, besides keeping them compliant with archiving standards outlined by HIPAA and the FRCP. One of the added bonuses of the product is that it's lightened the load on their exchange servers.

Employees are finding it easy to archive and search for emails, so they clean up their mailboxes and don't retain so much email on the server. Since implementing the product, 25 to 35 percent disk space has been freed up on their server, Jorgenson says.

And, one of the biggest benefits is the speed and ease at which they are able to produce the emails needed for discovery orders that come in. Now, instead of taking three days to produce the emails needed on a discovery order, the process takes only minutes.

Jorgenson points out that not long ago the IT department was again faced with a discovery order. This one came from administration regarding an employee that had been fired. They needed to produce the emails for this employee during a two week span. Using ArcMail Defender, it took ten minutes to produce the emails that were needed.

“It would have probably taken an entire day just for this particular person, on the old system,” Jorgenson says.

They are currently expanding the operation to be used at St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls, Wis., another sister hospital within HSHS.

The two hospitals are combining IT resources and St. Joseph's 450 employees will have their emails archived on the ArcMail Defender system.

Jorgenson says that by March 2009, at the latest, ArcMail Defender will be archiving the email for about 2,000 employees at the two hospitals.