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Say So Long to PCs in Hospitals

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, September 3, 2013

The drawback – really just a different way of doing things – comes when a software patch must be installed. Under the traditional PC model, that meant enlisting the aid of the help desk to update each machine. Under the virtualization model, only the master image of the software being pushed out to the zero client needs to be patched. That requires a different skill set in the data center, but saves considerable time by essentially only needing to be performed once.

As the rules of the HIPAA Omnibus legislation breathe down healthcare IT's neck, with hair-raising tales of breaches starting with rogue USB drives and missing hard disks, the kind of centralized management represented by virtualization and zero client technology is a siren song.

And right behind that is next April's retirement of Windows XP, still in use on too many desktops in healthcare. Virtualization is the natural replacement for XP, although it requires the master image to be at least based on Windows 7 if the same Windows apps will be used, Fear says.

Laptops and tablets and phones aren't immediately touched by this virtualization wave the way the desktop is, although my cover story on tablets back in January found a number of healthcare IT shops allowing access to desktops through virtual sessions implemented on tablets.

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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.