VDI helps end users manage healthcare applications

Vendors are strengthening their virtual desktop infrastructure products to meet the demands imposed by healthcare applications.

Not too long ago, desktop and application virtualization were subject to significant objections regarding their price points. Faced with adopting a virtual desktop infrastructure or going with a PC refresh cycle, many chose the latter.

Though virtual desktop infrastructure is a technology that is useful in many cases, it can be challenging to justify the up-front costs associated with its implementation -- despite hard and soft return-on-investment projections typically supporting a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) installation. In recent years, vendors have made significant enhancements to their VDI platforms, enticing IT departments to deploy their systems by increasing their versatility.

The increasing complexity of healthcare applications, the needs of mobile users, and security compliance requirements have pushed vendors to continue to enhance their platforms. One way they've accomplished this is through offering components that provide a unified platform for all end users' needs and simplify the IT department's role in managing it. As a result of these efforts, IT departments are seeing product upgrades in the VDI space that answer many of their requests and those made by healthcare users.

A recent VMware Horizon Suite release takes a simplified approach that some may find valuable. The new product consists of one unified platform that enables IT to manage desktop virtualization and application hosting, all under one umbrella. This also means that end users such as clinicians are able to access desktops and healthcare applications through one console. By simply providing the end users a webpage that provides them access to all applications or devices assigned to them, they are able to work efficiently and access appropriate health and administrative data with ease.

VDI opens mobile device utilization

The options are endless for users selecting from which of their devices they will be able to access their virtual desktop or healthcare applications. Many of the top VDI vendors offer browser-based access as well as native support for many of today's popular tablets and smartphones. This supplies end users with a bring your own device (BYOD) option for all their desktop and application needs. While some organizations may elect to use thin clients, the flexibility of BYOD is extremely valuable for end users who are on the move.

In terms of management and support, products from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix offer features that enable easy deployment, patching and monitoring. Such features provide the necessary level of security and ease of management for an IT department within a healthcare facility. A VDI product that's equipped with scalability can also be a huge plus because it can help in provisioning virtual desktops and applications for more users.

From a security standpoint, offering VDI and cloud-based applications can provide IT with a more secure environment. When data is maintained in the server, many of the concerns around data residing on end user devices are reduced. Beyond security, these VDI platforms are offering hospitals the opportunity to streamline the management of IT assets including desktops and applications, while enhancing the end user experience and reducing up-front hardware costs.

About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development at Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email
editor@searchhealthit.com or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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This was first published in August 2014

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