Desktop Virtualization Speeds Hospital Clinicians

By rolling out desktop virtualization from Sychron, Seton Family of Hospitals has reduced the time clinicians spend logging on and off systems each day.

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Senior Writer, InformationWeek

November 3, 2009

2 Min Read

When it takes 20 to 45 seconds to log on to a computer, sign in to applications, and find where you previously left off working, time adds up, especially for clinicians who move around all day using different computers in a variety of patients' rooms, nursing stations, and other hospital departments.

But Seton Family of Hospitals, which operates nine hospitals around Austin, Texas, is finding that virtualized desktops can save each clinician an average of 30 minutes a day with log-ins, freeing up nurses, doctors, and other to spend more time on patient care and other clinical work.

So far, Seton has deployed Synchron OnDemand Desktop for provisioning and managing virtual desktops on about 700 computers used by about 2,000 clinicians in three of its nine hospitals, said John Norling, regional technology director of Ascension Health Information Services. Ascension is the parent organization of Seton.

By next summer, however, the goal is to have desktop virtualization in place on about 2,500 additional devices and used by 7,000 to 8,000 clinicians at most of Seton's hospitals.

Instead of logging in and out of computers and applications every time clinicians walk to another patient room or work area, clinicians now hit a "roam button" before securely leaving a computer. This enables them to quickly start up on their virtual desktop wherever they left off working on the last computer.

"In an ICU, where seconds matters, clinicians often can't wait for applications to load up, they need immediate access to data," said Norling. Using virtualized desktops "can potentially save a life," he said.

The "main business drivers" for Seton to move to a virtualized desktop environment was to meet clinicians' need "to walk up to any device and quickly access data and applications," he said. In the past, clinicians would need to log into a device and applications 20 to 30 times a day. "This time adds up," Norling said. Seton's clinical computers are "a mixed bag" including PCs in some patient rooms, nursing stations, mobile carts, and other workspaces.

Since moving to the virtualized desktop environment, it's also easier to deploy new applications through "pushing out" upgraded "habitat images" to clinicians as they log in to their virtual desktops, said Norling.

Currently, Seton is getting about 47 virtual desktop sessions per server, but expects that number to jump to 100 sessions per some servers.

Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and a range of large and small healthcare providers are using mobile apps to improve care and help patients manage their health. Find out how. Download the report here (registration required).

About the Author(s)

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Senior Writer, InformationWeek

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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