Endpoint Virtualization for Healthcare Providers

2017-07-27T00:01:12+00:00 January 15th, 2010|Uncategorized|

It’s one of the more vexing challenges in healthcare.CB051669
Every day, doctors, nurses, case managers, and other hospital workers need quick and reliable access to key applications. And because they’re continually on the move, they need to be able to go to any workstation or kiosk to call up a particular application. But all too often they can’t get access because of problems inherent in the delivery of specific and proprietary healthcare applications and complexities managing the client system environment.
What if applications, and even the entire desktop, were able to follow these roaming users and be accessed from virtually any device? What if there was a much easier way for users to work in an increasingly digital environment, where Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are becoming commonplace?
This article looks at how centralized data management and endpoint virtualization can help physicians and clinicians, as well as IT staff, work more productively and securely.

The frustration factor

The access challenges that physicians and clinicians routinely face today can be daunting, to say the least.

  • Password problems: It’s easy to forget which passwords to use for which applications, and when to reset passwords. Calling the helpdesk for assistance can take up valuable time.
  • Application access and printing confusion: When using another workstation, or returning to the kiosk they were using earlier in the day, doctors and other users have to find the right application and navigate back to the place where they left off. This can be frustrating and time-consuming, particularly if the user moved to a different workstation that has a different user interface. Printing can also turn into a hassle for roaming users. They may not know which printer is used by a particular workstation. Or a printer may not be located nearby.
  • Remote access issues: When working remotely, users may not be able to reliably connect to the network and access the applications they need. And when they connect, the desktop may be different from what it is at the hospital. Even more frustrating, remote connections are often unreliable, dropping users in mid-session.
  • Inability to use computing resources: Some guest users, such as candy stripers and vendors, can’t use computing resources for basic functions because they aren’t authorized for the corporate network.

The IT challenges

Now let’s look at access from the point of view of the IT department. Since hospitals never close, IT has to ensure continual, reliable access every hour of every day. And there’s no shortage of challenges in making that happen:

  • Desktop management: Clinicians often share workstations in a kiosk-like fashion, and it’s not unusual for a single workstation to be used by dozens of people in a single day. Many times, hospital workers also need to access applications and patient data from different client devices. To enable device-to-device roaming and kiosk capabilities, IT must apply the highest-common denominator to every workstation. This means setting up and maintaining each workstation with all of the applications users might need, and making sure each workstation has the computing power to handle all of these applications. That’s not an efficient use of resources.
  • An inundated help desk: When a user doesn’t know how to find the local printer, it means another call to the help desk. And when users can’t remember their passwords or haven’t reset them, the help desk has to walk them through the process. To save time, people end up using other workers’ passwords instead of contacting the helpdesk. Shared passwords not only violate HIPAA mandates, they also hinder identity management initiatives.
  • Remote access issues: Enabling remote access is a must for most healthcare facilities, but addressing VPN connectivity issues can become a time-consuming chore for the IT staff.

The promise of centralized management

Symantec believes that many of these challenges can be addressed by taking a centralized approach to the management of data, which makes information more easily accessible to both healthcare providers and IT personnel. With a centralized management approach, care providers in different geographical locations can access the same applications and information simultaneously no matter where they are. This increases efficiency and productivity, while enabling providers to respond more quickly and improve quality of care.

By employing centralized management, hospitals can reduce IT costs and response times while increasing user satisfaction and security. Password management is easier, and password security is actually increased, for example, as is reporting and auditing for regulatory compliance issues. Access to patient information does not rely on the availability of a single workstation. When a particular endpoint becomes unavailable, the information remains accessible elsewhere.
Centralization also strengthens data security procedures for healthcare providers and networks. Hospitals typically use an open architecture in which users who are not employed by the hospital are constantly entering and leaving the environment. Although each endpoint may have security measures installed, the responsibility for updating and maintaining those measures today lies with the owner of the endpoint. Central management of data and applications strengthens this model by ensuring protection regardless of any security measures implemented on endpoints.

The promise of endpoint virtualization

There is an additional technology solution that can streamline the way healthcare organizations provide access to key applications: endpoint virtualization. While many organizations are already familiar with server virtualization, endpoint virtualization may be a new concept for them.

Endpoint virtualization in this context refers to the ability to provide a portable computing experience across a broad range of computing environments. The promise of endpoint virtualization lies in improving the end-user experience while helping to lower the cost of managing endpoint devices.
For clinicians, endpoint virtualization offers access to the user’s personalized workspace (desktop and applications) from any device (networked or remote) via a single authentication method. If physicians are able to authenticate to a network with a single sign on, rather than authenticating from each endpoint they use throughout the day, they can access applications from any networked or remote device.
Endpoint virtualization supports a clinical work environment by allowing the shared use of devices through rapid desktop switching and the ability to roam from one device to another while maintaining the active state of the desktop. Users can print locally even when roaming, eliminating the hassle of tracking down printers. And for physicians working remotely, their personalized workspace looks and acts exactly as it does when they’re in the hospital.
For IT professionals, endpoint virtualization enables IT to centrally manage all users, workstations, and applications, simplifying IT efforts to provision applications and updates to users. By intelligently allocating computing resources based on user class profiles, IT can optimize these resources. IT staff no longer need to apply the “highest common denominator” to every workstation.
In addition, by centralizing control of password management and enabling single sign on, IT can more quickly and easily resolve password issues when they arise.
The bottom line: IT can reduce costs and response times while maintaining a high level of user satisfaction and security.

Symantec and endpoint virtualization

Thanks to its extensive portfolio for managing virtual workspaces and providing a portable computing experience, Symantec can help organizations better secure and manage their endpoint data and applications. Symantec’s strategy is to help enable a truly dynamic endpoint, where applications and information are delivered to any computing environment in a seamless manner.

As hospitals continue to automate and add applications, providing convenient access to these applications for physicians and clinicians while maintaining security and patient data privacy will prove to be a challenge. But increasingly, hospitals will discover that centralized data management and endpoint virtualization can help address these issues.

Twelve Money-Making Reasons for Workspace Virtualization

2017-07-27T00:01:12+00:00 October 28th, 2009|Uncategorized|

symantec_logo tranDesktop virtualization is the second-fastest growing of all virtualization technologies. According to EMA research, around 26 percent of respondents had adopted or were planning to adopt desktop virtualization in 2006; but that number has almost doubled to 46 percent by 2008.

For institutions, the technology has valuable applicability: fault tolerant endpoints for the trading floor; single sign-on application access for the call center; easy desktop management for branch and remote workforces; productive workspaces for telecommuters and mobile workers; and guaranteed anywhere access for disaster recovery applications.

But the real business case lies in the impact workspace virtualization can have on an institution’s top- and bottom-line. Here are 12 reasons that should make this IT investment a done deal for financial institutions looking to thrive (not just survive) in a tough economy

1. On-demand access to applications from any location.
With streaming technology, users can access their workspaces and applications from anywhere, anytime. That access drives user productivity and is a direct contributor to the top line.

Business Impact:
A Day in the Life of a Power User – In the virtual reality, a user isn’t tied to her desk to be productive. Take Kelly, for instance, who is stuck in Aruba on a vacation gone awry – with no chance of getting home in time to finish an important business plan for this quarter’s board meeting. She finds her way to a local Internet café and logs in to the portal. Her workspace is waiting for her there, just the way she left it in the office. She has instant access to all the applications and data she needs. Instead of taking precious time to install specific applications, she’s productive from minute one. Kelly completes her plan and forwards it to the board members. She might not make the meeting, but her plan will.

2. Save time with delta-only updates.
Less downtime has its own impact on the top line. Delta-only updates ensure that users always have the right version of the right application, without surrendering their systems for upgrades—so they’re always ready to work.

3. Proactive license compliance.
A streaming platform manages application licenses and user authorizations. That means institutions will always be in compliance, avoiding surprise license consumption come end-of-year inventory.

4. Reduce license costs by eliminating unnecessary deployments.
For even deeper cuts, institutions no longer pay for licenses that may never be used. By deploying only icons, applications are only installed when they’re actually used.

5. Optimize license costs.
Additionally, institutions can proactively recover licenses for unused applications. If an application goes unused for an unusual amount of time, that unnecessary cost can be recouped.

6. Instant endpoint configuration based upon domain login.
As users move from endpoint to endpoint, the system configures applications based on their login. That means a common OS image can be used across the masses for untold IT efficiencies.

7. Increase the stability of endpoints.
Application virtualization separates applications from other applications and the OS so there are no dependencies or conflicts, resulting in greater availability of the workspace and less downtime for users.

8. Save time by eliminating pre-deployment testing of new and updated applications.
Pre-deployment testing is a necessary albeit time-consuming task that can delay installs or updates. With virtualization, there are no conflicts, so testing isn’t required, and installs and updates happen instantaneously to free IT resources and users alike.

9. Allow for instant application repair without redelivery.
Broken applications are a huge drain on IT resources with tasks like troubleshooting, testing, remediating, and redeploying software. Virtualization can reset applications to their “known good state” so folks can put those fixes behind them and get to work.

10. Central management of users, applications and workstations.
A desktop connection broker can dynamically allocate traditional and virtual computing resources like information, user profiles and applications to the endpoint regardless of device—thus reducing IT workloads.

11. Use Single Sign On to simplify and secure user access.
User access can be a one-step process, leveraging various authentication methods. They don’t have to re-authenticate as they move from application to application, so they’re more productive.

12. Simplify endpoint management.
A single, centralized management system is used across all platforms—local or remote, virtual or not. There’s one setting per user, per application no matter the endpoint, yielding much less resource-intensive management and huge cost savings.

Info/Security Impact:
A Day in the Life of an IT Staffer – Virtual workspace management frees IT resources from the many challenges that plague traditional desktop environments. Consider Steve, a harried IT guy who is hit with a particularly nasty virus that’s corrupting Microsoft Word—a popular application that can potentially impact all employee workstations, local and remote. In the old world, Steve would have had a busy morning, traipsing from desktop to desktop reinstalling the application. But in virtual reality, Steve sits back and in a matter of a couple of keystrokes he reverts Word back to its last known working state—on all 350 workspaces. Crisis averted, and his users remain unawares.

“Security can be a tough sell, regardless of the economy,” concludes Enterprise Management Associates’. “And risk management is not always a top priority.” But when you consider the impact that workspace virtualization has on an institution’s top- and bottom-line, as outlined in these twelve sound business points, then you might agree: A well-managed workspace is a secure workspace. And what price do you put on that?

Source: Symantec.com

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