In this article Keith Ali, managing director at Creative ITC, advises how to set up an effective remote working platform and how healthcare organisations can overcome five common challenges to realise the full benefits
Remote working solutions have become commonplace as a result of restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic
Workplace restrictions may have eased under recent Living with COVID guidance, but there has been little change in many healthcare environments.
Coronavirus cases continue to surge, putting the NHS and other healthcare providers under strain and leaving healthcare bosses ‘very concerned’ about the situation.
Many providers are still keeping vital staff in separate shifts to ensure continued service, and productivity continues to be affected as remote employees struggle to access hospital systems from home.
Long before Coronavirus lockdowns, IT teams in the healthcare sector were facing mounting challenges to improve collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams.
On-premise IT infrastructure and resources were already straining to cope with the ever-growing demands of data privacy, security, and specialist medical applications.
Long before Coronavirus lockdowns, IT teams in the healthcare sector were facing mounting challenges to improve collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams
Businesses in other sectors have turned to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to facilitate long-term hybrid working and boost workforce mobility in the post-pandemic era.
And the NHS is among many organisations looking to follow suit with a goal to enable all staff ‘to work flexibly, regardless of role, grade, reason or circumstance’.
But many healthcare providers have struggled to roll out VDI platforms successfully for all staff, soon discovering off-the-shelf platforms weren’t designed for power users working with graphics-heavy medical imaging applications.
The result has been that healthcare professionals such as radiologists are effectively chained to their workplace IT setup.
If IT teams are ever to release power users from hospital workstations, choosing a remote working solution that’s proven to be effective for all staff will be essential.
And understanding common obstacles and how to overcome them is a great place to start.
Most healthcare VDI initiatives fail for one, or more, of the following reasons:
One-size-fits-all assumptions: It’s a common mistake to assume all staff will have the same needs and interact similarly with VDI. They don’t and won’t.
Poor performance: Substandard user experience (UX) derails many a VDI project. Common causes are inadequate compute or storage resources, difficulties sharing files, latency and client device issues.
Security risks: In healthcare, deploying VDI workloads securely and compliantly is vital. Home devices are susceptible to a wide range of attacks and security issues so IT teams need the freedom to choose which apps and workloads should reside in the cloud and on-premise.
In-house resources: Be honest about your team’s skillset and scrutinise existing infrastructure closely when choosing a deployment model. The challenges of dealing with legacy infrastructure, cloud deployment and app optimisation shouldn’t be underestimated.
Business case blunders: All too often, VDI providers’ money-saving promises turn out to be empty. Before, and after, IT infrastructure costs often remain flat. The real return on investment (ROI) from hybrid working comes from optimised multidisciplinary teams and more-agile processes.
Look for a supplier with a successful track record of designing and deploying remote working technologies in the healthcare sector.
Choose one who understands how to meet healthcare compliance requirements and offers VDI consumption in the cloud, on-premise, or using a hybrid model in a single seamless solution. Their experience will be invaluable in unlocking full VDI potential.
Many healthcare providers have struggled to roll out VDI platforms successfully for all staff, soon discovering off-the-shelf platforms weren’t designed for power users working with graphics-heavy medical imaging applications
Also it is important to choose a provider that differentiates between VDI profiles for ordinary and power users and offers scalable pricing and burst capability.
In the right hands, VDI can be engineered for even the most-demanding, graphics-heavy clinical imaging applications, as well as knowledge workers with basic IT needs.
These purpose-built VDI solutions give users tools and experiences identical to, or better than, they enjoy in the workplace.
When evaluating VDI solutions, be sure to calculate total cost of ownership (TCO) over five years.
Opting for the managed service provider (MSP) route can result in savings on data centre space, infrastructure, upgrades, licensing, application deployment, support, and headcount.
Scrutinise their technical credentials and be confident they can deploy the right solution, leverage the latest technologies and provide ongoing management, optimization, and 24/7 support.
It’s easy to look at any IT investment based purely on financial costs, but this ignores a host of wider benefits that can be unlocked by successful VDI deployment.
Don’t underestimate the value of enabling medical teams to work and collaborate effectively from anywhere.
If IT teams are ever to release power users from hospital workstations, choosing a remote working solution that’s proven to be effective for all staff will be essential
VDI which works for all healthcare workers can expedite diagnoses and treatments resulting in improved patient outcomes.
Moreover, flexible working for all has the potential to release healthcare staff from traditional workplaces and restrictive hours.
And, for organisations, it offers the opportunity to retain existing people and attract new talent, contributing to mental health, wellbeing, and engagement.
The award-winning VDI deployment for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is a good example of a healthcare organisation unlocking the benefits of remote working through purpose-built technology.
Purpose-built VDIPOD from Creative ITC means radiologists can now work effectively remotely with secure access to high-quality medical imaging and healthcare systems.
Freed from the hospital campus, they enjoy superior user performance and enhanced welfare and working at home feels the same as onsite, with no loss of performance or speed.
As part of the managed service, Creative ITC provides 24-hour technical assistance, so radiologists can change work schedules or respond to an emergency.