A new generation of doctors and medical students is changing the way data informs:
- The doctors’ interpretations of the information they have
- The treatment plans the make
These changes in approach can carry significant implications for the IT systems that support all those decisions.
Much of the heavy lifting for advanced healthcare analytics happens on the back end, but there are significant implications for both the network infrastructure and workstations within the organization:
- The network must be able to support multiple physicians downloading medical imaging files (and uploading updates to electronic health records) at the same time.
- The network must support that network traffic wherever the physician happens to be—whether the doctor is sitting at a workstation with a cabled network connector or standing next to a patient’s bed.
Hospital administrators tend to blanche when they think about putting workstations with tons of graphic horsepower in every exam or patient room. The graphics capabilities are important, but there are many ways to put workable high-resolution graphics in front of a user.
A well-configured classic workstation is one option, but it’s far from the only choice that can make graphics happen.
VDI and “thin” hardware
VDI is one option that’s becoming increasingly popular in hospitals. This virtual desktop interface puts an individual desktop at every user’s fingertips. The virtual desktop can be supported on “thin” hardware that doesn’t require significant CPU power or storage.
The CFO-friendly nature of the cost is matched by the security advantages of a system that doesn’t leave the operating system, applications, or data on the hardware when the doctor walks away.
When to get heavy
Many doctors are performing analyses with their workstations and discovering something IT architects have known for decades: heavy analytics require heavy computing power. When a physician comes to the IT department talking about a new patient data analysis, a request for a more powerful workstation is likely close behind.
Thinner hardware with VDI can still work in patient and exam rooms as long as secure cloud storage is in place to provide access to data and analysis results.
It’s a long way from a clipboard hung on the foot of a bed, but when better data analysis leads to better patient outcomes, there’s no doubt about the direction of healthcare IT.