Paul Hanson Talks Security, Behind-the-Scenes Enhancements to Ensocare App

by Marc Costanzo on Jan 23, 2019

Paul Hanson with MotorcycleAlmost every year, Paul Hanson takes a cross-country motorcycle trip. An avid rider for more than a decade, he appreciates the flexibility afforded to him at Ensocare, where he can connect to a secure server basically anywhere with a WiFi signal.

“There have been times where, as long as you have internet access, you can work for our team,” he said. “There was a trip I took out to the West Coast and I worked from a truck stop. I had that flexibility to still be reachable in case something came up.”

If you’re an Ensocare user and you’ve had a smooth experience with the software without having to spend sleepless nights worrying about cybersecurity concerns, you’ve got people like Paul to thank (even when the highly technical work he’s putting in is taking place at a dusty truck stop somewhere outside Reno).

As Manager of Product Operations at Ensocare, Paul is responsible for making sure Ensocare’s features and various products have the server and infrastructure support necessary to provide a seamless experience for hospitals, post-acute providers and assorted members of the care team. As such, he’s had a front row seat to the advancements made to our care transition software in the last few years.

“A typical day for me is working with my team, the development team, customer service and our account executives to make sure our product is performing,” he said. “It’s making sure that our application is usable for our hospitals and providers, reacting to alerts that we have set up on our systems, and researching things that could make our platform even better.”

In the past few years, Ensocare has experienced remarkable growth, prompting a series of behind-the-scenes changes that have had a positive impact on our work. Here, Paul explains some of these changes, plus gives insight into what it’s like working within a culture dedicated to streamlining the patient experience. He also shares his experience creating a tech networking event for like-minded IT people at our Omaha headquarters.

Paul Hanson speaking at Avenue Scholars with aspiring IT studentsThe Cloud’s the Limit

One of the biggest shifts in recent years for the Ensocare team has been the move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our dedicated server host.

This move, which shores up our cybersecurity and addresses speed and capacity issues for the Ensocare software, was a long time coming. Paul was instrumental in researching what it would take to bring Ensocare fully onto the AWS servers, which means he’s the go-to guy for explaining how this is a huge benefit for our customers.

“We were on our own hardware before,” said Paul. “We migrated this year to AWS and it’s been incredibly solid for us. We’re no longer worried about capacity. I’m not going to run out of storage space for things, I’m not going to run out of computing power. The storage is far more resilient with AWS. We can scale up, and more importantly down, to meet demand.  We don’t need to run full compute capacity 24x7, at least today.”

What that means in layman’s terms: Ensocare has a nearly limitless capacity to add hospitals, post-acute providers, and other entities to an ever-expanding network of facilities. This network has the potential to become more reliable and more far-reaching every single day thanks to cloud architecture that lets us tap into an abundance of resources.

“Typically, you refresh your hardware every three years,” said Paul. “With AWS, they release what they call instance types, a certain CPU configuration with memory and network. I can literally click a few buttons and I’m faster, which is both awesome and scary. It gives us a better way of testing to make sure our updates are going to work the way we intend. You don’t want to just upgrade to upgrade; you want to upgrade to make sure that it’s going to be a better value for our customers.”

“With our own hardware, we knew the costs and capacity. We would have to continually monitor and plan for growth, which meant large expenses. With AWS, we’re paying for what we use and it’s basically unlimited. I don’t have to work with a data center to find physical space and power for more storage arrays. That frees my team up for our other initiatives.  We’re also not bound by vendor lock-in; no one in IT enjoys having to suffer through a bad vendor experience with hardware.”

The reliance on AWS also has another potential benefit: increased security.

“They have a few security services that we can sign up for. That’s great, because we can take advantage of the security but don’t have to worry about buying a new appliance, configuring it, supporting it, and so on and so forth. Instead, we inherit security controls AWS already has in place.  They manage the data centers and even many of the services for us. They are protecting their own resources and we have the option to add layers of security on top of that.”

paul_hanson_headshotLeading the Way

Paul’s work with and subsequent advocacy of AWS cloud services led him to take part in regular user groups dedicated to the topic. He had the idea to form a similar type of user group for an entirely different type of software, Hashicorp, that he and this team use regularly. Recently, he made that idea a reality by hosting a meet-up at Ensocare headquarters in Omaha.

“We had our first one in December,” said Paul. “We have another one coming up on January 16th. I’m trying to line up presentations and content for at least the next couple of them. We started a Slack channel for it, so more people in the local tech world were aware of it and have signed up for it. We were at 20-some odd people interested before the first of the year, and now we’re at around 40.”

Paul plans to continue hosting these events until the group is big enough that he can pass the torch to other like-minded Hashicorp enthusiasts. By staying in touch with this user group and the AWS user group, he hopes to stay abreast of trending topics that matter to cybersecurity, proficiency and innovation.

Taking the Next Big Leap

The encouragement Paul’s received to pursue these types of endeavors is what makes him really appreciate Ensocare. He recently celebrated his five-year anniversary, and it’s no accident that he’s stuck around for longer than he ever previously anticipated.

“I’ve been in IT operations, server and infrastructure support since…oh, forever. But, prior to Ensocare, I was working for a company that I considered just a speed bump. Normally IT people bounce around a lot, and my resume was no different. It was every twoish years [that I was taking a new job].”

“Five years ago, I noticed an Ensocare ad somewhere and I did some research. An Omaha World Herald article came up that basically told the Ted Tanase story and I thought, ‘Oh, I’m applying for that one.’ And here we are.”

There was something special about Ensocare that has gotten him to stick around, and even he acknowledges how surprised he was to find a company that takes care of its employees the way Ensocare and its parent company CQuence Health Group do.

“As cynical as IT people usually are, and as cheesy as this is going to sound, it is the culture here. I remember hearing at some presentation that you don’t leave a company for more money: you leave a bad company. I really like working for [Chief Technology Officer] Patrick Yee. I really like the culture. And on the very short list of things I don’t love, I feel like I could bring those things up here with leadership and my voice would be heard.”

So if you happen to be driving between Nebraska and California and see a man next to a parked motorcycle, setting up a WiFi signal and furiously typing on his laptop, be sure to say hello. And tell him not to work so hard.

“I’ve been promised that I’ll be able to take a trip without a laptop,” said Paul with a laugh. “But it’s just habit at this point.”

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