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Transforming Clinical Workflows with Workspace Virtualization

August 14, 2012 at 10:56 am PST

In my previous blog, I talked about how virtualization is picking up momentum in the healthcare industry and how this is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need to support positive patient outcomes.  In this blog, I would like to touch on one of the key areas where virtualization has made a significant impact – desktop virtualization.  

Hospitals frequently use shared dictation terminals to host their clinical dictation applications. As doctors complete multiple patient rounds, they make their way to one of these dedicated workstations, plug their personal microphone into the workstation, and dictate their notes from their previous rounds.  The delay between completing rounds and dictating patient data is inefficient, but more importantly, it creates the potential for errors.  Access through shared and dedicated workstations also tethers the clinician to specific terminals that can only be used when the doctor is in the clinic. For example, there is no easy way to access clinical reference imaging applications when the doctor is away from the clinic and wants to quickly review images for a specific patient. Instead, the doctor must either call a peer at the hospital to review the images, or incur travel time to go to the hospital. 

Finally, although the shared workstations distributed across the clinics and hospitals are centrally managed, the software operating on each workstation can quickly drift away from its original configuration as users install specific applications not hosted by the data center or use the workstation in other ways that compromise the original “golden image.”  As a result, every workstation and application that a caregiver uses can behave differently. A hospital’s IT group can potentially spend most of its time chasing repetitive workstation issues and errors, as well as managing different instances of almost applications. IT administrators constantly face the challenge of unwanted installations, as well as the incompatibility between images from one shared workstation to the next. Upgrading desktops and applications can be a difficult task, requiring many hours of effort on each workstation. 

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