Point of Care Opportunities and Challenges
At the point of care, physicians need instant access to charts, digital images, test results, and lab work. Nurses need to quickly find patient records and make live updates as medications and other treatments are administered. Patient consent forms and releases must be kept confidential and processed as quickly as possible.
Facilitating this flow of information speeds diagnosis and enables healthcare professionals to deliver faster and more precise treatment. Prompt access to patients' EHRs and other critical desktop applications also reduces time-consuming tasks and enables staff to address more patients in less time.
Managing mobile carts, workstations, and myriad mobile and fixed devices used at the point of care—while ensuring data security critical for patient privacy and HIPAA compliance—is a tremendous challenge. From an IT standpoint, it's difficult to keep system images up to date and handle security for all the devices, and hardware platforms, distributed throughout rooms, floors, and buildings. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which speeds access to patient records for staff on the move while supporting security and privacy, offers a solution.
VDI to the Rescue
A virtual desktop is a virtual machine (VM) with a desktop OS inside a secure data center. Instead of living on a device's hard drive, applications and data are streamed on demand over the network to the end client, which could be a tablet, laptop, or any thin client device best suited for the task at hand.
For example, you could replace a computer with a full OS on a mobile cart with a thin client at the patient's bedside. Your caregivers can access their own virtual desktops securely with their smart card and their PIN. Users' virtual profiles, and applications, are streamed on demand, and it's faster to log on and off. You could even give the patient some access to the internet without compromising security.
Good for Patients, Staff, and IT
VDI improves clinical workflow by offering a better way for caregivers to access patients' medical records in a compliant fashion. It also improves patient experience by helping healthcare providers minimize errors and reporting and maximize the time they spend with their patients.
VDI also benefits the IT department. User data and profile information are separate from the system image, which makes the image much easier to manage. When it's time for a change, IT updates a single image, and all virtual desktops receive the new template.
Since data and resources are managed centrally, less desk- or bed- side support is needed. IT staff are empowered to deliver reliable access to critical resources and ensure that patient data remains secure. In addition, thin clients cost less up front, are quiet and reliable, and use less power. They are a longer lifecycle technology, offering 7 years of service vs. 3 to 4 for a typical PC, and they can be installed in harsh environments or areas with short downtime windows.
What You Need to Know
For those familiar with server virtualization, VDI is somewhat similar. However, there are a few key differences. Both technologies rely on central hardware hosting VMs, but the VMs required for VDI need to be tailored to the demands of end-user applications, not server based workloads.
Your users will be interacting directly with the endpoint VMs—unlike server virtualization, where the user interacts with the file and print sharing, email systems, and directory services that are running on the VM.
This means endpoint virtualization requires special consideration and a few extra components, such as a directory server, desktop VM coordination service, remote access protocol, file servers, and application repositories to ensure performance.
VDI for Clinics
VDI is catching on at smaller clinics too. With VDI and thin clients, busy clinicians can seamlessly access their profiles as they move from room to room. Also, these facilities have smaller IT staffs and tend to keep their devices longer, making them good candidates for VDI.
Where to Start?
More than ever, health IT departments need to attain the cost savings, ease of management, and improved security VDI offers.
Connection's VDI, Server, and Network Assessments evaluate your client, server, storage, and networking needs to help you create the best plan for your environment, including what devices and applications to virtualize first.
To learn more, complete our Information Request Form or contact an
Account Executive at 1-800-369-1047.