- For healthcare CIOs, VDI is an obvious choice for increasing operational efficiency and at the time securing health data. For two in particular, VDI can have far-reaching benefits for the entire healthcare organization although the clinical setting is the most likely and oftentimes only area for deployment.
Vice President of Information Technology and CIO for Faith Regional Health Services Brian Sterud, MBA, CHCIO, CPHIMS, views VDI as “critical” to the healthcare industry moving forward.
“The ability to allow rapid access to a desktop from various clinical areas is a foundational need for most organizations,” he tells EHRIntelligence.com. “There are the same advantages in non-clinical areas; however, they are not nearly as exaggerated as time and efficiency doesn’t demand the same priority.”
Stephen Li, FACHE, Interim Vice President of the University of Vermont Medical Center, has a similar opinion of the value of VDI to the healthcare industry in recalling his previous work as Vice President and CIO of for Liberty Health.
“Most hospitals implementing VDI focus mainly on the clinical areas. If you focus on others, then you really have to weigh the cost versus the benefit. But it’s basically a slam dunk when you put it in the clinical areas,” he explains.
For most healthcare organizations, the choice to go with or go without VDI comes down to weighing the costs and the benefits. Li recalls the primary concern raised by the idea of going virtual at Liberty Health.
“I don’t want to say pushback, per se, but the concern was always around the financial aspect,” he reveals. “Liberty Health is safety net hospital in an urban area and usually, they don’t have as many financial resources as hospitals with a stronger private insurance payer mix. Fortunately, when we went to the board to get approval for the looming EMR project, it was budgeted with VDI in mind.”
Physician productivity remains a major concern as the entire healthcare industry goes through the transition from volume- to value-based care where neither one nor the other rules the day. This is motivation behind hosting EHR technology on VDI.
In a non-VDI environment, physicians moving throughout the clinical areas of a hospital must spend seconds and minutes logging in and out of different computers and other devices, which may appear minuscule at first glance but quickly add up.
“You multiply the number of times you have to do that in a day and that’s a distinct loss of productivity right there or if something goes wrong and you’re fighting with the computer. Their main focus should be on taking care of patients, not fighting with their computers,” says Li.
This is precisely where VDI fits it. By centralizing data and access controls, physicians must go through few sign-on and authentication processes and patient data follows them wherever they are.
“We have been using a Single Sign On platform for a number of years and have deployed primarily in our VDI system,” Sterud observes. “We have recently added the ability to use a proximity card for logging in and out of the system. The combination of these technologies has allowed us to create efficiencies with our clinical staff to keep them focused on taking care of the patient.”
That is not to say that VDI implementation met with little resistance. As Sterud admits, physician end-users were initially skeptical that the technology was inferior to a standard PC.
“We have been able to educate users to the advantages of VDI,” he continues. “They have the exact same user experience from any device regardless of whether they’re inside or outside of our network. We take the opportunity to explain that the processing power they are accessing is superior to that of a PC and is constantly being upgraded without interrupting their device.”
What’s more, the use of VDI has a direct impact on the need to replace PCs as frequently, avoiding additional costs.
“Instead of dealing with an aging PC, they are supported on the back end infrastructure and the performance isn’t degraded over time like a PC,” Sterud adds.