As the healthcare industry continues to digitize its paper-based processes, IT departments are putting more energy into maintaining a secure desktop environment.
With virtual desktop adoption poised to reach 65% by 2016, many organizations have turned to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to centrally host data and applications in the datacenter.
No matter the industry, there are several draws to implementing VDI, such as improved security, IT efficiency, and cost reduction. In healthcare, these demands are often magnified. A virtualized environment can increase security by keeping patient data off endpoints and securing it in the datacenter, while still putting information at physician’s fingertips at the point of care. In some long-term scenarios, VDI has proven to reduce hardware investments and the cost to maintain desktop environments for an overall improved ROI.
At the heart of any desktop virtualization initiative you’ll find a connection broker, which is a powerful ally in the quest to stay secure and to keep both IT and clinical staff as productive as possible. Connection broker technology ties all the data center bits together, and controls who can access what and how. Although virtualization secures data by keeping it off endpoints, it is the connection broker that provides the management console to oversee it all, giving IT the ability to monitor activity.
From an IT standpoint, a connection broker is critical in aiding compliance initiatives, as it provides full logs and audit reports about who accessed HIPAA-governed data and when. A connection broker is key for simplifying complicated login workflows that require multiple layers of authentication, including passwords and smart cards.
Enhancing the VDI user experience with connection broker technology
The success of any virtual desktop project hinges on the quality of the end-user’s desktop experience. When you’re looking at ways to improve the physician experience with virtual desktops, there are several areas of interest, such as login speeds, multi-factor authentication, and support for complex visualization.
1. Desktop login speeds
Inside any given hospital, clinical staff move from room to room providing care, sometimes requiring separate desktop connections during each patient visit. A variety of applications may be needed in order to access an electronic medical record, lab results, or even graphics-heavy software, like those required for medical imaging. Adding to the complexity is the increase in end-point devices and doctors wanting access to clinical data across the care continuum. A new workflow facilitated by the Leostream Connection Broker has enabled providers to shave precious seconds off session logins. For example, prior to implementing Leostream, it took one hospital system up to 40 seconds to move sessions between login terminals. With the inclusion of the Leostream Connection Broker, the hospital was able to trim session switching times to less than five seconds. This is a substantial process improvement for providers in high traffic environments, which need to login upwards of 70 times a day.
2. Multi-factor authentication
By integrating multi-factor authentication systems — such as smart cards, biometrics and security cards —a connection broker can add security to the login process while improving staff productivity. In terms of mobility and anywhere accessibility, this plays to the physician’s advantage. Take the example of a nurse that can access her desktop from inside the nursing station or by the patient’s bedside with just the tap of a proximity card.
Some hospitals prefer a hands-free login experience to access desktops in the datacenter. After a doctor’s initial logon of the day, her desktop sessions can be disconnected and reconnected in a matter of seconds. The role of the connection broker is to ensure that when she walks away from the client device her desktop session locks and when she moves to a new room, her desktop session follows her. In this scenario, there’s no boot up, no login, no fishing for smart cards, and no need to de-glove for a fingerprint scan.
3. Complex visualization
Another area of interest is the rendering of graphics in the data center. Displaying high-resolution patient data and 3D graphics in a virtual environment can be a challenge. With support for high-performance display protocols, such as, PCoIP, connection broker technology can ensure the delivery of healthcare applications that demand complex visualization. Leostream integrates with more high-performance display protocols than any other vendor on the market. By supporting the necessary protocol, the connection broker ensures that doctors have the performance they need and access to applications in a clinically relevant time frame.
To learn more about VDI and healthcare and how you can maintain a compliant desktop environment with the Leostream Connection Broker please download our new whitepaper on simplifying desktop assignments and logins.