Mar 14 2018

How USC's Keck Medicine Taps The Benefits of VDI to Increase Security & Accessibility

The virtual environment is set to save the provider $2 million over its lifetime alongside ease-of-use and security benefits.

When Sean Updegrove stepped into his role as CTO at Keck Medicine of USC 18 months ago, managing two aspects of the health system’s 9,000 devices more effectively quickly became top of mind: security and easy access.

“About 75 percent of those [9,000] endpoints are end-of-life … and they are extremely difficult to keep secure,” says Updegrove.

Moreover, the time it was taking clinicians and nurses to log in and out of desktops and laptops was costing them valuable time.

“[Eliminating] 45 seconds [for each log in] over the course of the day adds up to being able to see an extra five or six patients a day,” says Updegrove. “That matters.”

The solution to both of these problems quickly became apparent: a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

Working with Citrix and other vendor partners, Keck Medicine designed “from the ground up” a new virtual desktop environment for the hospital in just six months. It has also equipped a new outpatient clinic with VDI.

The thin clients eliminate the need to work with operating systems and ease clinician use on workstations by enabling badge-in and badge-out access. “We’ve reduced that login time [for providers] to the first time they do it in a day and then it’s just session movement throughout the day,” says Updegrove.

Additionally, Keck Medicine is using Citrix’s NetScaler products to provide secure external access to its VDI.

“As a teaching hospital, we have a lot of people working offsite, whether it’s in the school or out in the university,” Updegrove says. “This provides a unified experience, they log into the NetScaler environment and — boom! — they have their virtual desktop, it’s secure.”

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The Cloud Scales Up VDI for Future Use

Updegrove says his IT team is gearing up to build out additional capacity so that it can expand VDI to more clinics throughout the system. Part of that build-out will include leveraging a partnership between Citrix and Microsoft in order to host the entire stack inside the Azure cloud environment.

Eventually, Updegrove says that Keck Medicine expects to have 70 percent of its overall VDI capacity in the Azure cloud.

“Scalability is going to be a breeze in the cloud. If we need 200 more workstations because we acquired [an organization] — boom! — we can have them ready,” he says.

And on top of the security, access and scalability advantages, the system is also expected to dramatically shave down IT costs for the healthcare system.

“Over the life of this environment, even with just the 400 workstations we’re working with today, we’re going to save about $2 million total in cost of ownership for that environment,” Updegrove says.

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