In the first part of this blog we looked at the reasons why the healthcare IT sector has adopted virtualization, and the market factors driving more use of virtual care to augment primary care delivery. Here we explore how these new virtual clinical workflow changes will impact your user experience.
Accountable care organizations (ACOs) have expanded dramatically in the US. These patient-centred care teams are designed to scale the delivery of care across a team of clinicians from the time of admittance – aimed at improving quality of care, speeding up the care delivery process and improving patient satisfaction. These care teams need real-time collaboration tools to do their jobs – that means audio, video and imaging apps that enable them to share and communicate in real-time, anywhere, anytime – on desktops and mobile devices.
Challenges to delivering good user experience in virtual environments?
Delivering a delightful user experience in a virtual environment is challenging enough – requiring dependable high bandwidth connections (and massive amounts of storage) to deliver data/apps from the data centre through the network to a desktop or mobile PC. When you add the compute performance required to frequently render these rich media applications all at the same time (multi-tasking was invented by nurses), the user experience at the edge can be severely impacted in a negative way. Remember, the compute or rendering is being done in the datacentre, not on the user device, and the bandwidth connection is shared. The more users the less bandwidth per user. In typical VDI environments there is no ability to work offline so that’s not an option either.
Telemedicine in a virtual environment
Telemedicine, virtual collaboration and multi-media applications present greater challenges to delivering care – extending care via audio and video applications to a remote clinic or even a patients’ home. Many hospitals are opting to deploy dedicated IT tele-presence gear – with a special room at the hospital for the clinician and a similar room for the patient at a remote clinic. While this is not a very scalable or cost effective solution it is a choice made precisely because it is hard to deliver great audio, video user experiences on the existing shared hospital IT infrastructure – and it gets even harder in a virtual environment – where there is no inherent ability to run real-time multi-media or collaboration applications without adding latency. The result is poor video and audio quality – and unhappy users.
So what is a CIO to do about all this?
There are some good solutions at hand – first, utilize the right device for the endpoint – Intel has worked with the industry to enable a broad selection of end computing devices which can be cost effective and still meet the demanding rendering and compute requirements of multi-media collaboration applications – there are many OEM offerings from thin client to rich client and even small form factor PC’s for those with space constraints.
Second – deploy a balanced compute model where the applications can be rendered or computed at either the end user device or the datacentre – depending on how much compute is required. For example, Citrix offers their Receiver technology which enables the advantages of virtual computing (security, legacy OS support) and the ability to render applications at the end-point without sacrificing scalability or the end-user experience.
There are no one size fits all solutions – there are just too many variables in terms of application workloads and devices. However, by combining balanced compute based virtual software solutions with Intel-based endpoint devices CIO’s can handle these new end user demands and still deliver a great experience in their virtual world. This approach will support the demands of high quality collaboration and telemedicine apps from your staff and patients, avoid costly IT infrastructure retrenching, and enable a successful path to care delivery transformation.