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Hospital Logs Productivity, Revenue Gains From Desktop Virtualization

Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare turned to Dell's mobile computing tool to increase physician productivity and simplify single sign-on.

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Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare had a problem with mobility. The hospital system needed to let its doctors and nurses use tablets and smartphones to share clinical data throughout the organization in a secure and viable way. By using desktop virtualization, the system is poised to see projected risk-adjusted benefits of $636,235 over the next three years and get increased productivity from physicians, said Dr. Ron Machado, faculty at TMH's residency program, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.

"We had to come up with a solution in light of HIPAA and hospital policy, and we had to make it happen where doctors and nurses were going to interact with the clinical data going back and forth," said Machado. One key decision was to "keep as little data as possible on a device," he said. "With that came this pilot and our implementation."

TMH, a not-for-profit system serving 16 counties in North Florida and South Georgia, began a pilot implementation of Dell's Mobile Client Computing (MCC) software, which includes desktop virtualization and identity access management tools. TMH tested it with 55 physicians using the system throughout their day for seven months. In turn, TMH achieved a risk-adjusted ROI of 83%, with a payback period of 13 months, a recent Forrester study said. Much of the projected benefit will come from increased revenue due to higher doctor productivity, the study concluded.

[ Is it time to re-engineer your clinical decision support system? See 10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs. ]

TMH began its desktop virtualization pilot in January 2012. The system's IT department was considering developing a virtual desktop solution itself, however, it determined it didn't have the bandwidth to do so. In addition, the system estimated developing, designing, creating and implementing a virtual desktop in house would have taken an additional 1,200 hours. Although the cost of hardware, software, services and training for an in-house implementation would have remained the same as Dell's, Dell's approach avoided $54,000 in staff time.

Dell's MCC software includes single-sign-on, a smartcard for sign-on authentication and roaming session transfer, which allows access to a virtual desktop from any location.

The study projected increased revenue of $1,474,000 from better physician productivity and patient interaction. Machado said the software's single-sign-on feature was a main driver of increased productivity among physicians. The standard for physicians using a clinical system is having to go through multiple layers of log-in to maintain security, he said.

"If you implement a system of that nature, you're going to get a lot of frustration and slowed down productivity," he said. "... [M]obile clinical computing with single-sign-on functionality speeds up that process; you're able to [sign on] more rapidly. Physicians don't realize it because it's quite simple, but they're passing through and the security is simplified, and that's where they capture that extra patient interaction per day." Due to increased productivity rates, the Forrester study estimates that TMH will eventually be able to schedule an additional "one or two patients per day, per physician."

The Forrester study also warned that to get similar results as TMH, organizations need to have a shared storage (SAN) environment, have started virtualizing their data center environment, have a "relatively sophisticated IT staff," and be planning to adopt an electronic medical records system with a virtual desktop infrastructure as an implementation vehicle.

Clinical, patient engagement, and consumer apps promise to re-energize healthcare. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Power issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: Comparative effectiveness research taps the IT toolbox to compare treatments to determine which ones are most effective. (Free registration required.)

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