Sutter Health to help small hospitals use virtual PCs

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Sutter Health is in the early stages of offering smaller hospitals a virtual personal computer infrastructure that will enabling an organization’s users to move from one machine to another throughout a facility, or access information from a mobile device of their choice, such as a tablet.

The program, likely to be named Healthcare Workspace, is envisioned to make data more secure while enabling easy and fast access from anywhere, with the service handling software updates and ensuring participating providers remain compliant with regulations.

The hospitals would enjoy financial savings via reduced acquisition costs and use of desktop computers, while users would still have access to their personal computer—now mobile—anywhere and at any time.

“The virtual desktop follows you, so you don’t have your own PC but a virtual PC,” explains Wes Wright, chief technology officer at Sutter Health. Citrix will run the virtual desktops that will operate on a Cisco network.

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If a user doesn’t use the virtual desktop for four hours, it automatically logs out. If during a shift a virtual desktop user unknowingly picked up a virus, when the shift is done the virus goes away because the virtual desktop goes away.

The target audience for virtual desktops is hospitals with 100 beds or fewer that cannot afford virtualized desktop infrastructure or find the appropriate IT talent for using the technology.

Sutter Health has selected IT consulting and deployment firm Entisys 360 as the valued-added reseller that will market and run the base applications. Wright believes Citrix and Microsoft also likely will market the product, as well as some healthcare, operational and security consultancies.

Wright cautions that much of the project remains in the planning stage, although October is currently pegged as a soft launch. Sutter Health has started reaching out to smaller hospitals and gauging their interest, which Wright says is high.

A monthly subscription fee has yet to be determined; when it is set, marketing will begin via Sutter’s physician services unit. As part of the package, Sutter also will offer virtual call centers.

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