How does a large and diverse healthcare organization see VMware Workspace ONE, VMware Horizon virtual desktops, mobile devices and the cloud as transformative solutions to cut costs, deliver a digital workspace, simplify application access and management and generally delight their users? VMware’s James Millington recently sat down with Bill Hudson, former chief healthcare strategist at VMware and now associate CIO and VP of IT Operations at John Muir Health, to discuss approaches to healthcare tech. John Muir Health is a not-for-profit organization in Northern California, with a network of more than 1,000 physicians and close to 6,000 employees. Here are some highlights from their discussion.
James Millington: John Muir Health is planning to expand its existing VMware Horizon desktop environment and make the move to VMware Workspace ONE. What were the drivers for that decision?
Bill Hudson: As much as possible, we want to remove the technical obstacles in healthcare, and focus on supporting patient care. More and more of our environment is becoming cloud-enabled. We’ve already invested in virtual desktops and RDS applications across the organization in clinical spaces. Our clinicians are increasingly using cloud-based tools – for education, care, and quality. As these applications move to software as a service instead of on premises, how do I create a platform – a single workspace for my clinicians and my administrative organization – where they can work together using all these kinds of applications, in a single integrated pane that provides a unified experience? We looked ahead and said, Workspace ONE will be the tool that can help us do that. We’re bringing all those pieces together into that single place that makes it easy and intuitive for the user to be able to access whatever they need whenever they need.
“Workspace ONE provides that single pane of glass to get the best application experience whether I’m on a phone, a tablet or a 42-inch monitor. It will let me use the right device for the right task at the right time.” Bill Hudson, Associate CIO and VP of IT Operations, John Muir Health
Millington: We’re absolutely seeing a move towards mobile devices in healthcare. What are you seeing as the main use cases for mobile devices?
Hudson: Mobile devices are officially ubiquitous; if you’d asked me six or seven years ago about doctors or nurses inserting their own devices into the healthcare workflow, the definitive answer would have been no. Today we have clinicians that are embracing technology and pushing us, we’re seeing a huge drive towards the consumerization of IT – not just on the patient’s side, it’s happening on the clinician’s side as well. Clinicians want to use tools that they’re familiar with, that they already have; they don’t want to carry two or three devices. They also want access to everything and, we need to enable that for them in a way that is secure and manageable – we need to be able to manage that experience.
John Muir Health works with many physicians in the community. We don’t own their practice or have a formal IT relationship with them but, through our Community Connect program we extend our Epic instance, as well as related tools, so they can provide care for their patients. I look at Workspace ONE as a tool that we can use to extend the John Muir Health brand while extending our workplace applications to these remote users. Workspace ONE enables them to use the devices they already have, that they’re familiar with and, it gets my team out of the day-to-day business of managing our tools on those devices.
Millington: Tell me more about your vision for the day-to-day experience of Workspace ONE.
Hudson: It will help us look at our work differently. We’ve been very desktop focused in the past. Workspace ONE will provide a way to be more application- and workflow-focused – that will be a really good thing.
We use a core set of administrative and clinical apps on a regular basis. Ten years ago, it mattered what kind of workstation I was using, what operating system. Today it’s not about the operating system, it’s about what you’re trying to accomplish, what work that you’re trying to get done – work on a spreadsheet or care for a patient. It’s also about providing the optimal experience with any given application based on who you are, where you are and, what kind of device you’re on. Workspace ONE will provide that single pane of glass to deliver the best application experience whether I’m on a phone, a tablet or a 42-inch monitor. It will let our clinicians use the right device for the right task at the right time.
Millington: Is John Muir Health acquiring more mobile devices?
Hudson: Traditionally, we did provide the devices today, where it makes sense, we’re moving to a bring-your-own-device model, of course keeping in mind concerns about patient privacy and patient safety. Home health devices are a great example of the kind of device we will continue to own and control. However, increasingly, we’re getting out of the device business and empowering our clinicians to use the technology and devices they’re already familiar with, that they already own.
Millington: We’ve seen a gradual increase of trust in the cloud in healthcare. What’s your perspective on cloud adoption in healthcare?
Hudson: We’re looking at this problem in three layers/frameworks that will enable us to use cloud safely and securely. The first is security, the second is interoperability and data exchange standards and , the third is management and orchestration. So, when we connect to cloud providers, we need to make sure we do it in the most standard way possible, that it’s secure, that we’re exchanging the right data and that ultimately it meets the needs of our clients.
Millington: Identity must be a key part in making that simple for users to access these different sources.
Hudson: Absolutely, identity and authentication are two huge components of that. We must make sure that we are letting the right people in, they’re accessing the right things, we’re doing it in an industry-aligned security model and most of all, it’s simple for the clinicians – minimally impactful.
Millington: VDI has been a great fit for clinical desktops due to the time savings that can be realized when a provider is having to log in from different workstations 50 or 60 times a day. Now that the cost of VDI is at or below that of a physical machine, and web-based and SaaS applications are becoming more prevalent for all users in a healthcare organization, do you think the back-office operations and administrative functions can receive benefits by switching to VDI?
Hudson: Across healthcare IT we continually look for ways to manage costs and provide better services; there’s no reason we shouldn’t take the VDI model that’s worked so well for clinicians and move it to that back-office environment which, more often than not, is way less complicated. We’re also at the point that we can no longer support multiple devices for a single user – a single mobile device should be capable of meeting almost every use case – VDI can support multiple monitors, multiple user capable tuned for a specific user’s needs that can provide better uptime and more effective software management than traditionally deployed devices. We have the same cost and administrative challenges for PCs in the back office as we do in the front office. It’s silly for us not to think about them in the same way.