Keeping the community healthy is a big job at the best of times and, with over 1,300 staff in 23 locations, Medway Community Healthcare (MCH) is one of its area’s largest employers. It provides services ranging from health visitors and community nurses, to speech and language therapists and out of hours urgent care to Medway and the wider Kent region.
MCH previously relied on an ageing, shared-infrastructure, desktop service. However, the service struggled to cope with the number of users and the demands of a modern healthcare system.
“We had problems with performance, robustness and reliability,” says Head of IT Gerd Knight. “A user would switch on their PC in the morning and it would take 10, 20, even 30 minutes to reach a usable desktop. Often, they simply got a black screen. Mapped drives would disappear at random and the whole service would suffer a number of outages each week.”
Even when working, the service could not provide the mobility and agility required by MCH’s staff. Community nurses had to return to their office at the end of every day to complete their notes. Doctors often had to write prescriptions and records at the end of the day because the system was too slow to use during appointment times.
To provide MCH with the modern desktop service it needed, MCH worked with Silver Citrix Solution Advisor BDR Voice & Data Solutions who recommended Citrix DaaS with Citrix cloud services, supported by BDR’s managed service wrap.
The new system went live the week before the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We couldn’t have built, tested and deployed the new system as quickly or as efficiently without
BDR’s time, resources and expertise,” Knight says, describing the whirlwind deployment, “They were key to coordinating Citrix, the new hardware supplier and the handover from our previous service provider so that everything happened seamlessly and within the timeframe.”
With the prospect of all but essential, on-site staff working from home, MCH and BDR quickly rescoped the new solution for additional remote capacity.
“Citrix cloud services helped us to provision the extra capacity exceptionally quickly and Citrix DaaS gives us the ability to provide the same desktop across a variety of end-user technology, from a smartphone to a laptop or desktop, whether MCH-owned or a personal device,” Gerd explains. “Configuration was as simple as entering their domain user-name and password. It worked fantastically well and it meant that people could carry on working, wherever they were.”
“Without Citrix and BDR, we wouldn’t have been able to meet the challenge of COVID-19,” he continues. “Citrix enabled us to deploy applications, upgrades or changes in one place and know that it would work everywhere.”
“With Citrix DaaS, the overall experience for staff is ease of use,” says Knight. “The desktop is familiar. It’s reliable, fast, and responsive which means that people can do their jobs anywhere. That gives them more control over their daily work lives and workstyle.”
For community nurses, that means they can write up their notes as they go, and have secure access to the information they need to support patients in their own homes. No need to return to the office each day, simply to update records.
For clinicians working in clinics, as Gerd explains, “There are no longer IT-related delays during patient appointments. Clinicians can complete a consultation within the allotted appointment time. Previously, they would have to make notes on paper, then update their notes or issue prescriptions once they had a reliable connection. With Citrix, they can do real-time healthcare.”
Data security is always a concern for healthcare organisations, especially if they have people working from home on their own devices. But, with Citrix, “The data never leaves the datacentre. Nothing is stored on the end-user device and people can’t copy/paste information from the Citrix environment. We have switched on all the Citrix anti-keylogging and anti-screenshot protections. The system is as secure as we can make it and that protects patients’ private information.”
Citrix also delivers a reliable, high performance desktop across a wide range of network technologies from fibre to 4G and 3G, so that staff can work effectively wherever a connection is available.
The managed service provided by BDR provides additional reliability, performance and security by ensuring the system is always running optimally and is up to date with the latest security patches and updates. Should anything go wrong, BDR is on hand to support and complement MCH’s in-house IT team.
“The biggest benefit of Citrix for MCH is that everyone can do their jobs more efficiently, whether they are clinicians or administrators,” says Knight. “Because of Citrix’s reliability, there is no longer the concern that a simple task will take half an hour to complete. The apps and information people need are there whenever they need them. Overall, Citrix has made the whole organization leaner and fitter. It’s given us the agility to work from anywhere. And, that’s a massive benefit for both clinicians and patients.”