Sick Japanese woman on bed video chatting with doctor on laptop at home.

A Lesson Learned: Healthcare Needs Virtualization with SD-WAN

There are many lessons to glean from the global pandemic — and undoubtedly, we’ll be studying the nation’s response efforts for years to come. We saw countless acts of heroism during the crisis — and also witnessed our healthcare ecosystem undergoing a real-time, real-world proof-of-concept demonstration of the latest technologies.

Desktop virtualization proved intrinsic to care: The technology strengthened the remote and mobile capabilities of caregivers. Organizations were able to scale up securely and with compliance. They ramped up quickly to offer telehealth, which made it safe for physicians to see their patients virtually, while also protecting the patient’s privacy and personal health information (PHI).

With desktop virtualization, care providers could send office staff home and expand capacity without losing productivity or affecting clinician systems. Radiologists were able to move off-site — and still perform their duties via secure connections.

The healthcare ecosystem went through a real-time proof of concept demonstration — and the Harvard Business Review draws an apt conclusion from that chaotic experience: “Medicine is medicine, no matter how and where it’s practiced.”

We Have an Opportunity to Radically Improve Healthcare

Because it’s flexible and scalable, desktop virtualization has allowed us to change healthcare for the better. Among the possible improvements to the healthcare ecosystem are these salient three:

1. We Can Work Toward Health Equity. Remote access to healthcare services can increase participation for those who are medically or socially vulnerable or don’t have ready access to providers. Recent policy changes have reduced barriers to telehealth access and promoted its use. Now, caregivers can reach out and treat new populations that have been previously underserved. Patients are no longer limited by distance – they just need access to a device. Already, telehealth is impacting healthcare: According to a McKinsey report, providers are seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than before.

2. Employees Can Have a More Flexible Work Environment. With virtualization, workers have the same experience at home as they do at work. Should the hospital choose to maintain a hybrid work environment, care provider workspaces could become “a hub for project teamwork, multi-disciplinary consultation and collaboration, and hands-on learning and mentoring and social connection,” according to Forbes.

3. Hospitals Could Rethink Their Physical Plants. Large hospitals — often located over many acres in expensive metro areas — may be able to scale down on their real estate investments for possible savings, thanks to their reconfigured workspaces. This is an area for a great deal of study, with no firm data available yet.

Why We Need Cloud-hosted Virtualization With SD-WAN

Now, the unwelcome news: While it’s simpler to scale virtual desktops versus traditional client-server solutions, there are still the bottlenecks. IT still must scope, purchase, and deploy infrastructure — whether servers and storage or integrated solutions such as hyper-converged infrastructure. These CapEx purchases can take months — and there is the risk of introducing even more technical debt into the system. To help overcome these procurement and implementation hurdles, many of our healthcare customers rely on Carahsoft, VMWare’s Public Sector distributor, and their ecosystem of reseller partners to quickly deploy and optimize their IT infrastructures.

There is also another hurdle, connectivity. According to IDC, among all remote workers, 84 percent lose access to applications at least once a week, and 11 percent say it happens daily, according to IDC.

VMware SD-WAN™ enables customers to address existing connectivity challenges to deliver vast performance improvements to make the telehealth experience as close to an in-person visit as possible. It offers cloud-hosted gateways and a cloud provider on-ramp, along with an application recognition engine and dynamic multipath optimization. There is zero trust security, zero-touch provisioning, and end-to-end visibility.

To scale the remote workforce quickly and securely, providers are deploying Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure. As a subscription service, it reduces costs while also providing the scalability and security that healthcare providers need in this everchanging healthcare environment.

VMware SD-WAN and Microsoft Horizon Cloud on Azure with SD-WAN offers healthcare customers a great path to begin transforming their business as healthcare delivery continues to evolve. We won’t be going back to the way things once were — nor should we. That’s a vital lesson we can take away from the recent crisis.

Want to learn more? Why not read our analyst whitepaper: How Cloud-Hosted Desktop Virtualization With SD-WAN Is Empowering Healthcare Transformation


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