Healthcare IT has always faced unique challenges.
Among these challenges are the increasing mobility of healthcare workers. Healthcare providers are always on the move throughout hospitals. Still, they need to access the same apps and data, and their own unique workspace, wherever they are, quickly and securely.
Additionally, strict legal requirements and internal policies govern exactly how confidential patient data can be stored and accessed. Not to mention the need for secure identity authentication when prescribing medicine.
Today, the task of effectively managing an entire endpoint fleet in the healthcare environment is more challenging than ever before. In addition to the security and mobility requirements, healthcare providers and workers require, a premium is placed on enabling remote workers to access vital data, and healthcare providers to deliver healthcare services via video calls and from home networks.
Luckily, a powerful combination of end-user computing (EUC) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can help solve these challenges, save money for healthcare IT and improve the patient experience.
VDI – The Cure for What Ails Healthcare IT
In the past decade, VDI has emerged as a promising approach for healthcare IT to ease the endpoint management burden on its staff. The ability to provide a user a desktop-like experience – access to applications, data, files, etc. – from a device like a notebook or a tablet, laptop, or remote desktop are all critical advantages to VDI.
– VDI eases healthcare endpoints into compliance: due to laws and regulations, healthcare must adhere to strict guidelines and policies in regard to dealing with patient information. VDI aids in conforming to compliance regulations thanks to an added security layer – patient information is not stored on endpoint devices, but is instead housed in secure instances in the data center or cloud.
– Centralized management: with VDI, IT can manage all Windows instances within a secure data center. This makes managing and maintaining those instances much easier.
– PC Conversion: VDI allows for repurposing existing (often outdated) devices.
– Easing licensing requirements: in a Windows endpoint scenario, endpoints require manual updates and management, which creates an enormous burden on IT staff to maintain proper licensing for endpoints. With centralized management of end-user devices, VDI allows IT support to update and manage critical applications and to ensure all licensing parameters are met.
However, a new hybrid work world has created a demand for even more advanced use cases beyond what we might consider the traditional scenario for a healthcare VDI environment.
Healthcare IT, The Pandemic, and VDI
Moving forward into a post-pandemic world, several previously fringe use cases have become the norm for healthcare providers and organizations. For many, the pandemic and the ensuing switch to remote work and telehealth was a proving ground for healthcare providers’ investments in VDI. IT was able to send workers home whose physical presences weren’t necessary to aid daily hospital operation while simultaneously enabling telehealth.
Additionally, PC conversion has proven to be a vitally important aspect of endpoint strategy. In wake of the pandemic, supply chains have been massively impacted, driving up the prices for already expensive new devices. Where PC Conversion might once have been a nice way for healthcare providers to reduce capital investments in new hardware, today it is vital to the preservation of budgets and ensures the ongoing productivity of employees across the entire organization.
In fact, organizations have reported saving as much as $400 per endpoint, thanks to PC Conversion – effectively turning outdated devices into healthy and technologically sound endpoints.
Healthcare IT Must Think Beyond the Office to Ensure Productivity
The immediate need to send workers home, and to enable telehealth for doctors, stood out as the main drivers for healthcare IT to look beyond the physical boundaries of their hospital perimeters. Interesting use cases continued to emerge.
As COVID-19 clinics began to pop up around the country, healthcare IT was tasked with the herculean effort of enabling seamless and secure access to endpoints at remote testing sites – ones that were often required to be set up within a matter of days.
Embracing the cloud, VDI, and PC Conversion allowed many healthcare providers to solve the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of providing the right devices, at the right place, for the right worker.
The Future of VDI in Healthcare Settings
We expect the demand for hybrid work scenarios like these listed above to continue to drive the demand and need for effective VDI and EUC deployments. Endpoint deployments in healthcare will continue to become more diverse, both in regards to the actual device form factors being leveraged, and the location of those endpoints, and the mixture of various third-party integrations within a secure endpoint strategy.
Take, for example, the pandemic’s unexpectedly useful device – the Raspberry Pi. The Pi was successfully deployed to solve unique use cases even during the pandemic’s darkest moments when healthcare providers were all but overwhelmed by the demand placed on them by a growing number of COVID-19 cases.
The rapid use of more form factors beyond traditional desktops has not stopped at Raspberry Pis. Intel nucs are being leveraged, as are personal devices, and even underperforming, cheap laptops that now must be converted in order to deliver seamless video collaboration in telehealth and power advanced software.
While healthcare IT has never been so complex, it has likewise never had so much incredible potential to succeed thanks to the powerful combination of modern VDI, cloud, and end-user computing solutions becoming more accessible than ever before.
About Emanuel Pirker
Emanuel Pirker, founder and CEO, Stratodesk: A Silicon Valley veteran, Pirker has over 20 years of technology and entrepreneurial leadership experience, including 15 years of desktop virtualization expertise. Pirker strives to build enterprise-ready products that deliver value to customers while changing the way users interact with technology.