Rethinking Application Delivery

Thomas Young,Director - Data Center - Platform Services,CommonSpirit Health
Thomas Young,Director - Data Center - Platform Services,CommonSpirit Health

Thomas Young,Director - Data Center - Platform Services,CommonSpirit Health

As an IT professional in the Healthcare industry, our biggest challenge is delivering information to physicians and clinicians quickly, securely, and reliably.As the owner of Platform Services for the largest nonprofit hospital company in the US, this is extremely challenging.We have long used Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop to deliver EMRs and a variety of other applications for approximately 20,000 concurrent users.However, to deliver a solution that is efficient, secure and reliable, there are a variety of systems that have to be in alignment.We are constantly seeking ways to simplify application delivery and minimize the number of systems that need to be in alignment.

Let’s face it, the “modern” desktop is not that modern.As we constantly struggled to keep 75,000 desktops upgraded, patched and refreshed, we began to look at ways to eliminate the costs and inefficiencies of the desktop.The first step in this journey was to deliver our EMRs through Citrix XenApp, reducing the requirements of the desktop.Through Citrix Provisioning Services, we were capable of delivering an improved solution to thousands of physicians and clinicians but it continued to be inefficient and inconsistent.

  We are challenged every day to provide some of the most complex information systems in the simplest form.Continuing to move further away from the traditional desktop to mobile devices utilizing Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop allows us to do just that​  

The journey away from the desktop continued as we moved to Citrix XenDesktop and VDI.This allowed us to eliminate the traditional desktop completely in favor of a low cost, easy to maintain thin client.Once again, this greatly improved the physician and clinician experience and the patient care they were able to provide as well as increasing operational efficiency and reducing total cost of ownership.However, we believe we can do better.

With the implementation of technologies like “Tap and Go” we are able to move a virtual application or desktop from room to room as our providers make their rounds.This has greatly improved the patient experience and they are allowed to spend less time dealing with technology and more time interacting with the patient.If you consider the number of daily interactions that occur between our 25,000 physician and clinicians and our patients, the smallest increase in time with patients equals huge gains in efficiencies.

Imagine if each of those physicians were capable of carrying their Epic session in their pocket.As we continue to drive towards quickly, securely, and reliably delivering critical information to physicians, this is where the journey is leading us.

When a physician arrives, he “taps” into a mobile device docking station.This docking station securely maintains mobile phones and tablets for use in the clinic.Each time a device is returned to the docking station, it is wiped and re-provisioned using VMware WorkSpace One mobile device management.When he/she taps in, a device is unlocked and they are automatically logged into their EMR hosted in XenApp.As the physician makes their way to the first patient, they can review the patient information so they are prepared for their interaction with the patient.

Once in the room, there is no need to login or interact with a PC or thin client, the active XenApp session on the mobile device can be streamed to the monitors and peripheral devices in the patient room by simply “swiping up”, which casts the session to the Citrix Workspace Hub.Enabling the physician to utilize a full keyboard and mouse and display records or images for the patient.When they are ready to move to the next room, they can simply “swipe down” or just walk away from the room.Their Epic session remains on the mobile device, ready for the next patient.

This solution also greatly increases our ability to safeguard patient information.The session is easily removed from the monitors with a simple swipe if someone enters the room and the Citrix solution ensures that the data is secure in the Data Center if a device is lost or stolen.This also eliminates the possibility of a user failing to logout or shutdown an active session when they leave the room.

When the physician finishes their rounds, they simply return the mobile device to the docking station and it is again, wiped, re-provisioned and charged for the next deployment.

We are challenged every day to provide some of the most complex information systems in the simplest form.Continuing to move further away from the traditional desktop to mobile devices utilizing Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop allows us to do just that.

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