With its unique network of 22 clinics and two administration buildings, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic is Houston's largest and most renowned group of private, multispecialty physicians. Founded in 1949 by Dr. Mavis P. Kelsey, with the purpose of combining primary and specialty medical services in a single location, Kelsey-Seybold became one of the first nationally accredited accountable care organizations in the United States. It now offers the expertise of more than 385 physicians to nearly 500.000 patients throughout the Greater Houston area, with registered nurses available by phone 24/7.
For many healthcare organizations across the United States, one of the biggest technical challenges in recent years has been the transition to electronic medical records (EMRs). At Kelsey-Seybold, the switch to an EMR system required the installation of 1.600 new desktops in exam rooms and clinical spaces. Many of those machines were running different versions of software such as Microsoft Office on Windows XP. Whenever the EMR client required an upgrade, IT staff needed to perform software pushes overnight—sometimes requiring them to work through an entire weekend.
In the midst of all these challenges, a major hurricane hit the Houston area, prompting the IT team at Kelsey-Seybold to reconsider its business continuity strategy. "In the event of a disaster, a virtual desktop infrastructure [VDI] was the only practical way to provide a working desktop for clinicians to perform work at an alternate location," says Martin Littmann, chief technology officer at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. "Without this technology in place, we simply wouldn't be ready for the next big storm that's bound to come our way."
Today, the IT team at Kelsey-Seybold relies on several Citrix technologies to manage a rapidly growing VDI deployment. They began by implementing Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop, which enables them to perform major application upgrades across thousands of machines at the push of a button. "We liked the way XenApp worked," says Chris Breaux, manager of enterprise information systems at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. "So when it came time to take our VDI initiative to the next level, it made sense to stick with Citrix."
The Kelsey-Seybold team chose Citrix NetScaler App Delivery Controller for optimizing, securing and controlling the delivery of virtualized services across the enterprise. Citrix Provisioning Services allows IT staff to simplify the management of virtualized devices by streaming a single shared image instead of copying images to individual machines. "Without Provisioning Services, we would be struggling to manage the number of images we need for testing and development," says Breaux.
With help from Citrix technology, Kelsey-Seybold has also developed a business continuity strategy that will enable flexible relocation in the event of an emergency. "We've identified several locations where staff can move if their facility becomes unavailable," says Breaux. "For many information workers, that temporary location may be their home office."
With the American healthcare system undergoing profound changes, Kelsey-Seybold can have confidence that its VDI solution will deliver long-term value no matter what. "Our physicians feel great about this investment," says Littmann. "They understand that it represents a radical change in our infrastructure, but they also understand that it will allow us to optimize the delivery of healthcare services to our patients."
In the clinic's legacy IT environment, software was "pushed" to PCs, often requiring days for the entire desktop fleet to receive an update. But now with Citrix technology, every update is immediately available after deployment. "We still employ a rigorous process of validating the new image, but that actual change is now minutes instead of days," says Littmann. "The speed and efficiency of the new architecture applies to software application deployment as well as security patching."
Kelsey-Seybold is seeing particularly big savings in terms of power consumption. Before implementing Citrix technology, the organization's fleet of PCs consumed 74,45 kilowatt-hours (kWh) on average. By using new thin clients to access virtual desktops, power consumption decreased to no more than 8 kWh. Multiplied by up to 6.000 endpoints, the ongoing savings will prove to be considerable.
Going forward, Citrix technology will continue to help Kelsey-Seybold grow its business. "We're always looking to optimize our environment," says Littmann. "Citrix makes it unbelievably easy for us to add a new cluster, and that enables us to scale up the number of desktops that we deliver. As far as I'm concerned, there's no real limit to what we can do."
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