Nationwide retirement home company ElderCare is rolling out an ultra-thin client facility management system after signing up with ASP (application service provider) Greenwood Technology. Greenwood developed a browser-based system called eCare for Eldercare which will be used by 16 homes, covering 950 residents, around the country. The system handles resident management, admissions, departures and billing and has links to Eldercare’s accounting system Composer. Eldercare has recently been in acquisition mode and the ultra-thin client model — whereby users access a remote system through a browser — is suitable because it runs on any type of hardware or operating system. Thus facilities with different IT platforms can be easily integrated into the eCare system.
Retirement home managers will use their browser to access eCare via dial-up lines. The system resides at Greenwood’s ASP facility which is housed at the premises of network management provider Logical (formerly Anite Networks, formerly Cray Communications) which is optimised for disaster recovery with its own electricity generator. The eCare system, which was written with Greenwood’s own development tool called BullIT, sits on a Sun server running Solaris with an Oracle 8i database.
Eldercare CEO David Lowry says a major advantage is that by replacing manual systems eCare eliminates human error and presents a more professional image to the public.
“Managers will also be able to have up-to-date account balances for each resident which will provide a higher level of accountability at each facility and should aid in debt collection.”
Lowry says the main challenge is many of the managers are not confident with computers and need thorough training and guidance.
So far one facility is piloting the system and feedback is excellent. All facilities will be using the system by the end of March.
Eldercare is one of eight ultra-thin client customers using the ASP, says Greenwood marketing manager Greg Mikkelsen. Others include AA Insurance and logging logistics company Owens Services. Seven others access the ASP via Citrix thin-client technology. These are mainly ISVs (independent software vendors) which use the ASP to distribute their software to customers. These include accounting software companies Exchequer Software and exo-net.
Citrix-based customers need a Citrix client on their machine to access the ASP which runs the applications on Citrix Metaframe and Windows NT Terminal Server Edition.
Mikkelsen says as an example of pricing, Exchequer is about $170 per month per user, whereas it would cost around $20,000 for a company to have its own licenses for five users.
Mikkelsen says customers often ask how safe their data is and whether there is any chance that another
customer could access their database, by mistake or maliciously. “There’s no chance that that can happen. There is only one path pointing from them to their database.”
Greenwood Technology consists of three other companies including Software Mechanix, which does application development, Systems Mechanix which does WAN and LAN support, and ITP a franchise of 21 technical professionals that is being set up.