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Say So Long to PCs in Hospitals

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, September 3, 2013

A recent annual survey by Imprivata, which makes the technology that authenticates those name badges to start sessions with virtualization software from Citrix, VMWare and Microsoft, just found for the first time that a majority of hospitals are using thin or zero clients instead of traditional PC clients.

That same survey found that two years from now, 98 percent of those surveyed will be using thin or zero client as part of their IT strategy.

Thin clients, a previous incarnation of this same idea for reducing the complexity and increasing the manageability of a PC, still required the kind of occasional software updates and patches that drive CIOs to distraction.

The latest zero client hardware won't be found at your local Wal-Mart, but CIOs know the channels where they can find these increasingly commodity-like terminals able to serve up a Windows desktop.

Virtualization is an idea almost as old as computing itself, having been popularized by IBM on its 360 mainframe in the 1960s. Even running virtualization on a PC is not novel anymore. But the move toward a totally virtualized desktop as a mass phenomenon, particularly in healthcare, is just now pulling into the station.

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5 comments on "Say So Long to PCs in Hospitals"


Tommy (9/11/2013 at 7:56 AM)
The CAPEX savings are a perception not necessarily a reality. OPEX can see savings in FTE man hours but that can be offset by the increased OPEX of the licensing cost to Microsoft each year depending on the number of clients. Licensing cost(especially Microsoft), and the cost of fast storage to offer up the virtual machine are the current deal breakers for most hospitals. I agree that the VDI brings a lot to the table in rapid upgrades of hardware and software, decreased patch time, security, etc. However, even though the edge device is cheaper to buy than a full desktop that savings is negated for the previous reasons of licensing and storage.

Steve Munie (9/6/2013 at 1:10 PM)
The problem with broad statements are the exceptions. Radiology was mentioned but dismissed. Even if a solution could be deployed to deliver 12 MegaPixels or more to the desktop, the performance of the chipset would not match that of a local WorkStation. Don't try to think that there isn't still a computer where the cables plug in. For the most part it is a very trending movement with many positive benefits. A wide deployment of mobile devices (tablets) along with replacement of desktop PCs throughout the hospital floors is a good strategy.

scottmace (9/4/2013 at 3:03 PM)
No area of the hospital is exempt from this trend.