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May 21 2014   4:18PM GMT

Blood donor database relies on enterprise mobility management

Posted by: adelvecchio
mobile device management, Mobile devices, tablets

promo imagesGuest post by Tracy Crowe, director of product marketing, NetMotion Wireless

For several years the Seattle-based Puget Sound Blood Center has used NetMotion Wireless’s Mobility — an enterprise mobility management product to manage mobile workforce productivity, security and control — on many of its 350 corporate laptops, while others were equipped with a different product from Citrix. After evaluating the two solutions in both mobile and office settings, the Puget Sound Blood Center (PSBC) team found that Citrix users reported regular connectivity problems while Mobility users did not. As a result, the not-for-profit decided to standardize its entire workforce on the NetMotion product. The full-scale rollout planned for 2014 includes all laptops, tablets and handheld scanners.

After comparing the two mobile workforce connectivity solutions side by side, PSBC ultimately selected NetMotion Wireless Mobility® as the software on which to standardize. The NetMotion software is now providing all of Puget Sound’s workers with a secure, reliable, and fast connection to its mission-critical Blood Establishment Computer System (BECS).

Connectivity brings time savings to live-saving effort

PSBC’s 20 mobile blood drive units are constantly canvassing the Seattle metropolitan area for life-saving blood donors. However, not all donations can be accepted. For instance, if potential donors have given blood recently, they may not be eligible to donate again so soon. Before they can accept a donation, mobile blood drive workers must access the organization’s BECS to perform a database query to determine if the donor is an approved candidate.

Having dependable, fast and seamless connectivity as they travel is a must in order to perform this process as efficiently as possible. A lost connection means having to log back in and start the process all over again — a tedious waste of work hours that often translates into time not spent collecting precious pints of blood.

“If we don’t have the connection, we can’t access that donor record information, causing delays or wasting critical time for our donors and staff,” said Tony Sheehan, network services manager at PSBC.

Testing two of the market’s most popular solutions for mobile workforces, the organization gained the confidence and motivation to standardize on the more successful product.

Standardizing was a no-brainer

NetMotion Mobility provides PSBC with a secure and reliable mobile virtual private network tunnel that ensures workers always stay linked to the BECS. Even in cellular or Wi-Fi dead zones, the solution creates a persistent connection to keep the mobile applications active rather than disconnect them. Another benefit they discovered is when laptops are closed and reopened, the connection is immediately reestablished without the user having to do anything.

The reliability and persistence of the connection provided by NetMotion stood in stark contrast to what was experienced by those PSBC workers who relied on the other product.

“There was really no contest between the two solutions,” added Sheehan. “Mobility showed it was far and away the better solution for workers that need to get and stay connected from wherever they are working.” As a result, the team decided to roll out the product to more than just the mobile workers, but also to the growing number of office staff who often bring their laptops on the road or home with them.

Sheehan attributed PSBC’s selection of NetMotion to an increasing number of complaints from employees who found it difficult to connect from home using the Citrix product. In particular, he would hear that laptops would routinely disconnect from one of the organization’s central, shared map drives.

“There’s a certain amount of bandwidth that is required to maintain a map drive over Citrix,” said Sheehan. “That was causing a huge problem because while workers have the bandwidth at the main office, they might not have that level of bandwidth at home to allow it to work. No one’s ever lost a map drive working at home using NetMotion, no matter how fast or slow the connection was.”

In addition to laptops, blood drive workers also use tablets to create donor-specific labels that are affixed to a patient’s sample and paperwork. Handheld scanners are then used to verify that these items correlate to the correct donor. Both these devices require a constant connection to the BECS and thus will be part of the new full-scale implementation.

The NetMotion Mobility software has made a difference in the usability of the organization’s handhelds and reduced the workload of IT staff. Previously, when a connection was disrupted, an oversized error message would appear on the device’s tiny screen, obscuring the instructions for how to reconnect. “Mobility has flat out stopped this type of help desk call, which could take as long as 30 minutes to resolve,” said Sheehan.

Simplicity, consistency, security

The move to standardize on NetMotion will offer several significant benefits for PSBC. First and foremost, having a single, enterprise-wide solution will simplify the task of managing and administering the company’s mobile workforce and provide users with consistency. Sheehan noted that standardization is a key component of PSBC’s 5S methodology of IT management.

Ease of use is another big plus. “Workers that previously used Citrix have found their Mobility devices are much easier to connect to the network when they’re off-site,” added Sheehan. “I use it at home all the time and find it to be so effortless. I can open up my laptop and it automatically connects to the network and I didn’t do anything.”

The solution also comes with built-in security features that allow IT or central management to selectively control which employees have access to sensitive health data. Such protections are necessary in order to ensure that the PSBC is in full compliance with the privacy policies of both HIPAA and the FDA.

In short, NetMotion’s solution has provided PSBC with a transfusion of efficiency and reliability, allowing the organization’s mobile workers to fulfill their life-saving mission uninterrupted.

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