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WellSpan Deploys Citrix Desktop Virtualization to Speed EHR Use

WellSpan Health has partnered with Citrix Systems, a provider of desktop virtualization and cloud computing, to deploy a digital workspace for its more than 1,500 doctors and clinicians to speed up access to WellSpan’s Epic EHR and other applications and data.

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By Fred Donovan

- WellSpan Health has partnered with Citrix Systems, a provider of desktop virtualization and cloud computing, to deploy a digital workspace for its more than 1,500 doctors and clinicians to speed up access to WellSpan’s Epic EHR and other applications and data.

WellSpan operates eight hospitals and has more than 19,000 employees and 170 patient care locations in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.

With Citrix’s virtualization technology, WellSpan can provide single sign-on access to all the apps and content its doctors and clinicians require in a unified platform.

The average employee spends more than 20 percent of his or her time searching for information and 25 percent more completing administrative tasks.

For doctors and clinicians, that is time not spent with patients. That is why WellSpan has implemented the digital workspace solution from Citrix, explained WellSpan Health VP and CTO Mick Murphy.

READ MORE: Data Virtualization Supports Better Access to Clinical Data

Murphy told HITInfrastructure.com that it was taking around 38 seconds for doctors and clinicians to get into the EHR with WellSpan’s previous solution. He said that his organization thought it could significantly shorten the time by using another product. 

“The decision to go with Citrix was driven by the fact that the bulk of the Epic community had chosen Citrix. We didn’t need to be blazing any new technology trails; we just needed to execute it really well,” Murphy explained.

“Our target was to get under seven seconds. That was target we set joint with Epic. We kept a relentless focus on that. When we went live, we got it under four seconds,” he related.  

The Citrix platform is “doing what we need it to do: promptly getting physicians and nurses into the medical record. We have a focus on giving them time back because the electronic health record has taken time away from direct interaction with patients. So as much as possible we are trying to get time that we can give back,” said Murphy.

WellSpan uses Citrix for the desktop instance of Epic. For mobile devices, Epic has iOS applications that can be used on mobile devices.

READ MORE: Healthcare Data Centers Call For Cloud, Virtualization

Citrix’s virtualization technology improves data security and enables physicians to work remotely as well because data does not reside on the devices but remains in the data center.

“Reducing the time burden for physicians and nurses getting into the record makes it more likely that they will secure their workspace when they are in a shared work environment. To be able to quickly lock the workstation because the burden of getting back in is only three and a half seconds is substantial,” explained WellSpan VP and Chief Medical Information Officer Geoff Nicholson.

“It also allows us to push more aggressively for automatic timeouts which help keep the data secure on-premises. There is the added value of being able to deliver the electronic health record over Citrix into someone’s home or office, and having the comfort of knowing that we are not leaving a data trial behind on the local device is huge,” he told HITInfrastructure.com.

“Any time we can give back to physicians to answer a question, to reassure a patient, or make medical decisions with more information is time that pays value over and over again,” Nicholson concluded.

Citrix enables Epic to deliver its EHR application much faster, more securely, and more nimbly, said Citrix Director of Healthcare Solutions Christian Boucher. He told HITInfrastructure.com that between 85 percent and 89 percent of Epic implementations run on a Citrix environment.  

READ MORE: Interoperability, Virtualization Vital to HIT Infrastructure Growth

“I work with Epic to develop reference architecture for their deployment, which will enable customers and Epic to deploy their solution with optimal configuration and repeatable results,” said Citrix Principal Systems Engineer Henry Vernov. “We also work with Epic in their testing environment to ensure optimal performance,” he added.

“Many hospitals still don’t have well-designed device management solutions in place. By bringing everything to a central location, such as a data center or EHR hosting facility, customers can deliver updates from a central location. They can have full control of their environments and also provide a higher level of security while delivering their EHR solution, which means we can extend life cycle for endpoint devices, we can control security, and we are able to deploy at large scale in hospitals,” Vernov told HITInfrastructure.com.

Boucher added: “We take applications that require constant updates and specific PC resources, and we move than into the data center. We share it from there. When the end users are interacting with the application, while it looks like it is running on their device, it is really running securely back in the data center.”

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