Founded in 1907, Seattle Children’s Hospital is one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals. In addition to providing outstanding patient care, the hospital conducts leading-edge pediatric research and serves as an educational resource for patients, families and healthcare professionals.
As a world-class healthcare organization, Seattle Children’s Hospital makes extensive technology resources available to its staff, from electronic medical records to databases of clinical information to real-time patient monitoring systems. In the past, however, healthcare professionals were constrained in their ability to put these resources to work for their patients. “Our doctors and nurses were spending too much of their time interacting with technology rather than patients,” says Jake Hughes, Chief Technical Architect for Infrastructure Systems at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
As practitioners moved from offices to team rooms to patient bedsides to shared computers-on-wheels, differences in configuration among the 4,000 – 5,000 workstations in the organization made for an unfamiliar and unpredictable computing experience. With no mobile computing capability, doctors were unable to make effective use of mobile devices or respond remotely to patient needs. IT support was also a constant challenge, with thousands of instances of each of hundreds of applications to manage and troubleshoot; Hughes’ team spent an estimated 90 percent of its time dealing with repetitive issues and errors in the workstation environment.
To provide a faster, more mobile, and fully transparent computing experience for its practitioners, Seattle Children’s Hospital selected a hosted virtual desktop infrastructure (Hosted VDI) desktop delivery model powered by Citrix XenDesktop. The first step was the use of On-demand apps with Citrix XenAppTM to virtualize the hospital’s clinical environment, including the Cerner clinical information system; the Epic electronic medical records system; and more than 380 other applications. Then, virtualizing the entire desktop accelerates provisioning speed, increases user mobility, and minimizes login times. Citrix NetScaler® and Citrix Access Gateway™ are used to provide secure remote access and policy controls both inside and outside the hospital. NetScaler also provides load balancing to ensure consistent high performance and an optimal experience for every user. Nearly 5,500 workstations are being replaced with the Wyse Xenith zero client, which connects directly to the VDI environment. Doctors and nurses connecting to their desktops through their own laptops or tablets can easily download and install Citrix Receiver to access their desktops and apps.The VDI environment as a whole runs on virtual servers backed by Citrix XenServer®.
Prior to its VDI initiative, Seattle Children’s Hospital doctors and nurses preparing for a patient visit had to spend as much as five minutes logging into a computer in the team room, opening and logging into applications, and browsing patient information—only to have to repeat the entire process once they had moved to the clinic room. With only 15 – 20 minutes of time available to see each patient and family, this inevitably limited the quality of their interaction and made it challenging to make the best decisions.
With Citrix desktop virtualization, practitioners now use single sign-on to log into their desktop and applications on a zero client in a matter of seconds, then spend the rest of their preparation time discussing the patient they are about to see. Once in the clinic room, they can log into the exact same desktop state they’d just left, with the full information and patient context already displayed, in 10-15 seconds. They can begin interacting immediately, including showing the family diagnostic and informational images right on the screen—something they might previously have skipped due to time constraints. “With patient information at their fingertips wherever they go, our nurses and physicians have reached a new level of synergy with each other. This has been a huge benefit for our practitioners as well as the children they care for,” says Hughes.
Centralization and single-image management are bringing unprecedented simplicity and consistency to Children’s workstation environment. “We can provision applications and complete desktops for new users in a matter of minutes, and allow them to log into the same familiar environment—including their own personalizations—no matter which machine they use,” says Hughes. Updates are made to a single gold master, which becomes available to users on their next log-in.
The server environment, including any applications installed or streamed to it, is exactly the same for every virtual server, making it possible to deploy far more servers in a more consistent fashion, more quickly, while using fewer staff resources. “If we need more capacity, we can just add a spare blade and scale the environment by hundreds of users in five minutes or less, compared with the hours it would have taken to get legacy servers into production,” says Hughes. NetScaler further enhances resiliency and availability by absorbing failures seamlessly and making it possible to perform maintenance at any time of day with no impact on the customer experience.
Desktop virtualization has helped Seattle Children’s Hospital control IT costs by greatly reducing the number of trouble tickets to be responded to each day. This is complemented by the savings made possible by replacing a workstation environment with a three-year replacement cycle with a less expensive zero client with a 10-year replacement cycle. “Taking into account the consolidation of resources from the workstation space into the datacenter, even after our investment in new storage, servers and infrastructure, we estimate roughly $1,000,000 in return on investment within a 4 – 5 year period,” says Hughes.
By enabling its healthcare professionals to use its technology resources more easily and efficiently no matter where they go, while reducing costs, Seattle Children’s Hospital keeps its focus where it belongs: on the health of the children it serves.
Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTXS) is a leading provider of virtual computing solutions that help companies deliver IT as an on-demand service. Founded in 1989, Citrix combines virtualization, networking, and cloud computing technologies into a full portfolio of products that enable virtual work styles for users and virtual datacenters for IT. More than 230,000 organizations worldwide rely on Citrix to help them build simpler and more cost-effective IT environments. Citrix partners with over 10,000 companies in more than 100 countries. Annual revenue in 2009 was $1.61 billion.
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