Giving slow log-ins the boot
Clinical staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital were simply wasting time, or better put, having their time wasted, with the hospital’s computer system, according to Vice President and Chief Technical Officer Wes Wright.
A physician would walk into a patient’s room and log into the computer, which would take two minutes to pull up a patient’s file. Meanwhile, the doctor, patient and any family members in the room would just have to sit and wait. “Some of our brand new PCs, we were getting eight-minute boot ups,” Wright says. “Busy physicians just can’t do that.”
Multiply those lost minutes times the number of clinical encounters in a hospital that treats 292,000 patients a year, and you have a sense of the lost productivity and frustration shared by providers and patients alike.
What the 250-bed hospital found as a solution was a change in information system architecture, creating what techies call a virtual desktop infrastructure, using what Wright describes as, “essentially … a little black box” attached to each computer terminal throughout the hospital.
“You plug it in,” Wright says. “It doesn’t have software. The software is built into the hardware”
The boxes make a quick, direct connection to the hospital’s servers and applications.
“If it’s a not clinical workstation, your first login for the day takes about 43 seconds and your subsequent re-connect takes about 10 seconds,” Wright says. About 1,300 devices have been installed, with the intensive-care unit scheduled to get its upgrade July 14. Switching to a virtual desktop infrastructure is expected to save each doctor-and-nurse team about a half-hour daily.
“We’re experiencing something that the information systems shops never get to experience—that’s people pounding down our door saying, when are you going to get to us?”