University of Arizona College of PharmacyAs recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, IBM has announced that The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is using an IBM zEnterprise mainframe running IBM DB2 database software on Linux to analyze and process three million medical claims per week. IBM Premier Business Partner Sirius Computer Solutions, Inc., helped the college move from a Mac OS-based system based system to a mainframe environment, reducing the time it takes to process medical claims by 60 percent while increasing the quality of care for its patients.

Headquartered in Tucson, The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy provides students with professional programs aimed at acquiring the doctor of pharmacy degree, as well as a variety of PhD programs in the studies of pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacology and toxicology. It’s first-of-its kind, pharmacist-run Medication Management Center (MMC) that provides personalized medication therapy management designed to optimize health outcomes for individual patients.

The ability to quickly and efficiently analyze an influx of big data such as medical records, medication information and claims is imperative for the college. Previously, PCs managed the flow of data, however, the input/output capabilities were insufficient to accommodate a growing amount of data resulting in critical delays when updating patient medical profiles. As the system began to slow, it became clear that a new IT infrastructure would be necessary. The college expects membership to grow from 2.5 million to over 10 million in the next few years.

“Among the reasons we chose the IBM’s zEnterprise system were reliability and almost unlimited scalability,” said Kevin Barber, associate director, MTM center, UA College of Pharmacy. “zEnterprise allows us to focus on the applications and service we deliver to our patients and not on the constant maintenance of our hardware and software technology.”

Working with IBM and Sirius Computer Solutions, the college gained the ability to enhance many functions of its business and pass the benefits on to its patients such as:

  • Significantly reducing data load times to approximately one third less than previously possible.
  • Performing batch processes during normal business hours without disrupting operations.
  • Providing a more scalable, higher performing IT infrastructure to support and facilitate future growth.
  • Infrastructure enhancements translated into over 160,000 medication changes for improved treatment and more than $65,000,000 in savings for its customers.

“The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is building a smarter infrastructure to tackle its most pressing big data analytics and data management challenges,” said Pat Toole, GM, IBM System z. “The scalability of IBM’s zEnterprise platform allows them to grow without compromising the large processing capabilities they incur to keep important medical records up to date on a daily basis.”


John LaFountain is a Senior Corporate Communications Specialist with Sirius Computer Solutions.