OST Enhances Clinician Experience with Epic EMR at Kettering Health Network

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Leading EPIC technology service provider implements Virtual Desktop solution to improve usability and increase productivity for doctors & nurses.

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OST (Open Source Technologies): Business and IT Consulting Services

OST rose to the challenge by leveraging a combination of hardware and software tools.

Information technology plays an increasingly critical role in the management and delivery of healthcare services. But as healthcare providers develop their IT strategies, they must continually weigh the benefits of technology against its potential impact on staff—and ultimately, on patient care.

Kettering Health Network (KHN), an integrated healthcare network based in Dayton, Ohio, faced precisely this issue as it implemented its Epic electronic medical records (EMR) system. Kettering knew its EMR technology would optimize its medical-records management, but it also requires clinicians to record and access information via computers many times per shift. Kettering therefore needed to minimize potential disruption to caregivers’ workflows and focus on making their interactions with the new Epic EMR system as easy and non-intrusive as possible.

Kettering’s initial goal was to have Desktop Virtualization drive parallel benefits within that environment. “We looked at virtualization on the desktop side to help us reduce the cost of our PC deployment,” explains Bill Hudson, director of information technology at KHN. This was a pressing concern. To accommodate its caregivers—such as nurses administering medicine and physicians in need of clinical test results—Kettering had installed PCs in “every nook and cranny” across its 60-plus healthcare facilities. But saturating the environment with computing devices meant that some were only lightly used. Kettering wanted a way to reduce overhead costs associated with maintaining all of those machines.

To help with architecting a virtual desktop environment, Kettering turned to VMware channel partner Open Systems Technologies, Inc. (OST). “OST helped us with our Epic rollout,” says Hudson. “So when we began looking at VMware View, we brought them back.” The team defined several use cases. The primary one, which it branded as CareLink Plus, is a clinical desktop. This is designated as an inpatient device that pushes out clinical applications for use by caregivers. There is also an Information Systems desktop image, and plans for a business office-automation use case.

After the team had defined its CareLink Plus use case, Kettering gave OST a new challenge: to streamline the virtual-desktop login process.

OST rose to the challenge by leveraging a combination of hardware and software tools. For hardware, the team chose HP Thin Clients equipped with “tap badge” radio-frequency identity (RFID) proximity badge readers. This device enables users to log in to their virtual desktops by simply tapping their ID badges on the reader.

But initial tests showed that it was still taking about 15 seconds to log in, so OST further streamlined the process by leveraging Sentillion software—a tool that enables single sign-on for multiple applications. As a result, after users log in to their VMware View desktops, they have immediate access to all applications they are authorized to use.

This highly secure login procedure ensures that only authorized users access Kettering applications. At the same time, it automates and streamlines the login process which saves time and eliminates the hassle factor. “We’ve saved our staff about 20–30 seconds every time they log onto a desktop, compared to accessing our old desktops,” Hudson says.

Because caregivers use their systems dozens of times per shift, the aggregate time savings is as much as 10–15 minutes a day. That’s 10–15 minutes that physicians and nurses can spend caring for patients instead of interacting with technology.

When users are done with their login session, they click an exit button on a toolbar displayed on the screen. The next time they log in, they are exactly where they left off when they last logged out—another key time-saver. “They tap their badge and they can start working again,” Hudson says.

Hudson concludes, “Our Epic project in general is having a tremendous impact in how we provide patient care.”

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Michael Lomonaco
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