Virtualization delivers workforce mobility for hospital

Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital deploys desktop virtualization to keep staff moving

Virtual desktops have meant that caregivers at Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital aren't chained to their desks according to Ramsay Health Care infrastructure engineer Barry White.

Ramsay is private hospital operator and owner with facilities in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, France and the UK, including the new Sunshine Coast hospital, which opened its doors in November last year.

With the new facility, IT had the opportunity try something "a bit new", White said.

"We had the benefit of being a new hospital; we didn't have to worry about interrupting [work] while we migrated people from one system to another," the engineer told Computerworld Australia.

The VDI deployment, using Citrix's XenDesktop, means that caregivers are "able to jump onto any workstation wherever they happen to be and continue working".

"There are definitely certain pockets of staff where it's quite important," White said. "Those are the ones who are not bound to a desk most of the day — that's primarily the caregivers."

"We don't really want to have them bound to a single workstation," White added. "If they've been using one workstation and need to continue and pick up where they left off then that's something we'd like to offer."

Although the VDI setup does support mobile devices, the focus has been on serving virtual desktops to workstations. "There's definitely a place for tablets and phones and things, but we've found that they need the correct use case, rather than just tying someone to a tablet they have to carry round, which can be a hindrance," White said.

"We just want to make sure that it's something that will add value."

White said that he has received positive feedback for the virtual desktops setup. "Staff can see the benefits in being able to have that increased mobility."

The biggest beneficiaries have been the caregivers operating in high-traffic areas of the hospital who don't need to return to the same workstation they were previously using or wait for a particular workstation in a to be freed up.

White said that there's potential for further VDI rollouts at Ramsay facilities. "We'll take it on a case by case basis," he said.