PMACS Penn Medicine Academic Computing Services

PMACS NewsletterSummer 2022

Leadership Thoughts

Photo of VanzandbergenAs we proceed through the summer months and head out of the extreme heat towards cooler temperatures, the IS team remains red hot developing and implementing technology improvements and changes. We have performed system upgrades to LabVantage and Veeva Vault while the Penn Medicine Biobank Research consent project gains traction with great success. Additionally, we have been laser focused on working with our PSOM colleagues to understand the evolving storage and compute challenges with the goal of optimally positioning our support services. Continuing with the theme of collaboration, we held our inaugural Honest Broker retreat in June! It was a great event that featured key updates on data privacy, cohort exploration tools, and sharing between brokers and leaders from various cores about their area of expertise.

In addition to these research initiatives, ISC and PSOM completed wireless access upgrades in Smilow and the Clinical Research Building, improving wireless access coverage through those buildings. The University launched Workday Performance Management, delivering new processes and tools to support the employee appraisal and performance management process. Along with partnership from the University, work continues to refine the recently launched Pennant Records and Pennant Aid, initially launched in the spring.

Stay on the lookout for future events and updates!  Please enjoy the end of summer and start of the fall season.

Workday Performance Management is Now Live!

The University launched Workday, the new performance management system, on July 1, 2022. PSOM managers and their direct reports* will participate in the new process, which includes an introductory review process for new hires and internal transfers who start on or after July 1.

Workday Talent builds on Penn's use of Workday's core human capital management platform - including support of business functions such as compensation, recruiting, and learning. The talent module will help align the workforce more seamlessly with Penn's long and short-term goals.

Workday Talent will also incorporate these expanded features:

  • Standardize the staff performance review process.
  • Provide tools to help staff develop to their potential and achieve career goals within the organization.
  • Allow staff to manage a career profile reflective of their skills and experience.
  • Provide tools for managers and leadership to assess potential, development, and succession across their organizations.

*Staff covered by collective bargaining agreements and Penn Medicine clinicians are excluded from the Workday performance management and introductory review processes. UPHS employees will use UPHS’s performance management processes and systems, not those of the University of Pennsylvania.

PSOM Completes the PennFlex Phone Service Deployment

Over the past 15 months, PSOM has continued to deploy the University’s new PennFlex Phone system across all University spaces. The final group of migrations occurred on August 17, 2022.  The PennFlex Phone exchange depots will resume in Smilow (Room 12-157, Mondays and Wednesdays) and Richards (Basement C-Suite, Tuesdays and Thursdays) between the hours of 10am and 2pm through the end of August.  

PennFlex offers several advantages over the previous phone service. The most significant benefit is that you can now take your phone number “to go”, rather than having a traditional handset on your desk. Vonage offers a soft phone app that you can install on mobile phones, tablets, and computers so you can send and receive calls without revealing your personal phone number. Visit the PennFlex Phone website for more information.

If you experience any issues with Penn Flex or would like to obtain Penn Flex phone service, please refer to the PSOM Penn Flex website which includes manuals and a “Getting help with Penn Flex Service section” that allows you to fill out forms for a helpdesk ticket.  Please do not contact Vonage or ISC directly.

Penn Medicine Biobank Research Electronic Consent

The Penn Medicine Biobank accumulates samples to support world-class research that cures diseases and saves lives. To improve the scale of the Biobank, an electronic consent was implemented in PennChart for ambulatory practices associated with the downtown hospitals and Chester County Hospital. A total of 185,125 patients have been approached to consent, and 102,511 patients have been consented to the biobank via the new electronic process. This compares to approximately 65K consents in the first 10 years using a manual, paper-based process.  A workflow that leveraged the clinical lab IS system, clinical sample labels, and the research LIMS system, LabVantage, was also instituted to collect blood samples from PCAM laboratories. Biobank blood draw orders have been placed on 1,829 patients.  These enhancements will help the Penn Medicine BioBank support research in many disease areas.

LabVantage LIMS: Successful Upgrade Completed and Future Integrations Coming!

Since the last newsletter was published, the LIMS team successfully upgraded the LabVantage platform that serves as Penn Medicine’s enterprise Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). The new version of LabVantage offers improvements in freezer management, dashboards, application security, support for Microsoft’s Edge browser, and includes many other bug fixes and enhancements.

Penn Medicine’s instance of LabVantage now tracks nearly 3 million samples and supports almost 650 studies for a diverse set of 116 research teams - including the ACC Clinical Research Unit’s Immune Health Project represented through the Penn Medicine BioBank and the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies. 

Several integration projects are also underway for LabVantage. 

  • Expanded integration with PennChart is will support expanded sample acquisitions for the Penn Medicine BioBank.  
  • An iPhone application developed by Penn Medicine’s Application Development team is now piloting to facilitate seamless communication between research phlebotomists and processing labs
  • Integration with iLab that will enable laboratories to track billable activities as part of their standard workflow

The LIMS team looks forward to continuing to support the world-class research that takes place at Penn Medicine.

PMACS Supports Multiple Website Launches

The PMACS Web Design Team launches many new sites each month. In this article, we highlight two notable releases, characterized by their special features.

The Penn Medicine OUTList website is now live since this past June, just in time for Pride month! Its purpose is to increase visibility and promote networking for LGBTQIA+ people at Penn Medicine. It features a searchable directory of OUTList participants and an online form that interested individuals can use to sign up. Each participant can choose to share information about their role and department, their sexual orientation and pronouns, as well as their interests and specialties. Email addresses are included for networking purposes within Penn Medicine but are hidden from the general public.

Another site that launched recently features an online gallery of the Perelman School of Medicine’s extensive portrait collection. Maintained by the Office of the Executive Vice Dean, the portraits can be sorted by department/center/institute, artist, or building and are fully searchable. Future plans are to expand the site to include more details about each portrait as additional data is gathered.

Searchable/filterable lists can be a terrific feature to add to a website. Contact the PMACS Web Team to discuss this and other custom website features.

Service Spotlight: Code42 for Enterprise (Crashplan)

Code42 for Enterprise (formerly Crashplan) is a data backup service which was initially made available to PMACS supported faculty and staff in 2010. The Code42 application continuously backs up selected files from your computer to the Code42 cloud. Each backed up file may have several revisions that can be recovered directly from the application. Crashplan and PMACS enterprise storage can safeguard research data from loss anywhere.

Each user license can have up to 4 computers with the client installed at a cost of $5 per license per month. There is no limit to amount of data per computer that can be backed up. To find out more information or how to get a license please visit the DART website.

Information Security (Cybersecurity)

Our Cybersecurity group in Information Services continues to lead us in maintaining safe yet functional compute, storage, and network environments. Topics of interest for this edition are below.

Good Cyber Hygiene

Are you practicing good cyber hygiene? Click here to learn easy tips to help keep Penn Medicine and your work computer safe.

USB Safety

Suppose you receive a free USB drive in the mail – maybe it comes with a thank you note and a gift card, or maybe it is included in a package with some instructions from a government agency. Either way, it seems like a useful gift, so you insert it into your work computer. But things could go very wrong if the USB came loaded with malicious software.

The FBI is warning of a campaign by ransomware gang FIN7 that starts with sending USB drives loaded with malware to employees of U.S. companies. One method is to mail a “thank you” gift (with a note, a gift certificate, and the infected USB drive), and the other method is to send an official looking letter from HHS with instructions on COVID-19 protocols and the accompanying USB. If the USB is inserted into your computer, it will execute a BadUSB attack, which will eventually install malware on your computer, spreading across your network.

When it comes to cybersecurity best practices, removable media should only be inserted into your computer if you trust/know the source.

For more information on Cybersecurity, please click on this link for access to the Cybersecurity home page*.

*To access this link, you must be connected via the UPHS network (wired or wireless), the PSOM network (wired), or the PMACS or UPHS VPN.

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