This is a guest post written by Brett Taylor, Director, IT Infrastructure & Operations, for St. Luke’s Hospital System and Steve Kaplan, Vice President, Channel & Strategic Sales for Nutanix.

I love the new Virtual Desktop!  I honestly think it is THE most successful thing that our IT department has done in the last 5 years. – St. Luke’s physician

St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, Idaho is one of the most respected healthcare institutions in the U.S.

With 15,000 employees—including 1,500 physicians and 200 clinics—St. Luke’s is also one of the country’s larger healthcare facilities. St. Luke’s has been recognized by Truven Health Analytics as one of the top 15 health systems in the country. St. Luke’s hospitals in Boise and Meridan were named by Healthgrades among the top 100 hospitals in America.

The recognition by the industry is based on St. Luke’s focus of creating an exceptional patient experience and providing the best outcomes to its patient and the community. 

An early adopter of Citrix XenApp, St. Luke’s also deployed Nutanix because the organization had only two months in which to transition a rehabilitation in-patient and ambulatory healthcare services onto Citrix XenDesktop. This would not have been possible with legacy architecture, but Nutanix’s web-scale technology enabled St. Luke’s to very quickly provide a great user experience for 60 clinical workers across a hospital and 30 clinics. The solution allowed for the work to be accomplished on time, and on budget, and resulted in an exceptional outcome.

St. Luke’s was so impressed with the reliability and performance of the combined Citrix XD/Nutanix solution, that IT leadership engaged with Nutanix for an ROI analysis to determine the potential cost savings of virtualizing all 15,000 employees over the next five years – in conjunction with the organization’s five year refresh rate. Because the budget that would normally pay for new PCs each year instead is being used for moving to virtual desktops, St. Luke’s projected a 5-year savings of $15.7M with a payback of under 6 months.

St. Luke's Healthcare System

While the ROI projections were preliminary and were spread out over five years, St. Luke’s experienced such success with the virtualization solution, that it is accelerating migration of its 15,000 users to virtual desktops. Nearly half of the users have been migrated so far, and even employees who initially were resistant to the idea have been very complimentary about how IT has changed their lives for the better.

Over the last two years, St. Luke’s IT department has been focused on providing an exceptional experience for the workforce, so that they can create an outstanding experience for patients. Traditionally in Heathcare, we have seen that IT often is a barrier to the delivery of care, and is not able to provide the right level of support to our customers. Partnering with the care providers has been critical to reverse this in the St. Luke’s health system.

We have worked directly with our care providers, including physicians and nurses, to make our virtual desktop be a tool that improves their mobility, as well as their productivity. St. Luke’ implemented an environment that improves the speed of access to the Electronic Medical Record through roaming desktops, and by using tap badge access and single sign-on.

So far, we are getting demand to not only deploy this new technology into the areas we were targeting, but also to groups that have had issues with their productivity including areas like our Healthcare Information Management team which is remote, and global. Solutions like XenDesktop on Nutanix have helped St. Luke’s IT become a great partner in the overall organization.

Why St. Luke’s chose Nutanix Web-Scale for Citrix XenDesktop

In addition to the exceptional reduction in infrastructure complexity, the primary economic advantage that Nutanix brings to a Citrix deployment is the ability for organizations to grow their environments only as needed. Like St. Luke’s, they can start small and then grow as slowly or as rapidly as desired. And continued technology enhancements to both hardware and to Nutanix’s own OS mean that the density of users per node continues to increase as time goes by so that fewer nodes require purchasing.

Because every Nutanix node is a virtual storage controller, the challenges arising from pumping storage traffic through physical storage controllers is reduced or eliminated altogether. Users have a higher-performing and much more consistent experience which in turn leads to much greater satisfaction.

Finally, Nutanix supports multiple hypervisors including vSphere, Hyper-V and Nutanix AHV. This means that organizations have the option of using the hypervisor that works best in their environment by maximizing capabilities while minimizing complexity and costs. St. Luke’s will soon be piloting AHV for a XenDesktop deployment.

Other Economic Advantages

Web-scale provides another major area of improvement within the IT department. St. Luke’s IT has to support thousands of devices and around 2,000 servers – which is a challenge, there is never enough people and time. By simplifying its infrastructure, St. Luke’s has given back time to the smartest people in IT. Investing in hyperconvergence also enables converging the team: IT members can now specialize on the entire infrastructure platform rather than on just a silo such as storage.

As impressive as the infrastructure savings might be with XenDesktop and Nutanix, the most significant gains come from the business side of the organization. St. Luke’s has not only seen huge productivity benefits among its clinicians and technicians, but also changes in the way that they engage with patients when technology is no longer a barrier but an enabler of care improvement.

Synergy 2016 has given us a forum to discuss our experiences. Come to our theater session, SYN513: How St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center transformed IT and patient experiences on Tuesday, May 24 at 11:30am. 


Brett Taylor is Director, IT Infrastructure & Operations, for St. Luke’s. Brett has successfully led teams involved in the development of electronic medical records, revenue cycle systems and integration technology. He has worked with organizations of varying sizes ranging from large healthcare organizations to smaller rural healthcare providers as well as software development vendors.

Steve Kaplan is Vice President, Client Strategy for Nutanix. In addition to writing hundreds of articles, blog posts and white papers, Steve has co-authored 7 different books on Citrix technologies. He formerly co-founded and ran a Citrix consultancy that won the first Citrix Platinum Partner of the Year Award for the United States. Steve was also a Microsoft MVP for four years and held a seat on the Microsoft Partner Advisory Council. CRN Magazine named him as one of the 50 most influential people in the virtualization industry. You can follow him on Twitter: @ROIdude

Citrix invited the authors of this post to present at Citrix Synergy 2016 and to participate in a related contest.  They received an entry into the contest for submitting this blog post.

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