Bidding farewell to desktops

By Richard Pizzi
12:00 AM

VOORHEES, NJ – Physician practices install information technology to help solve readily apparent clinical and administrative problems. But sometimes that technology – once implemented – reveals problems that practices never knew they had.

Children’s Health Associates of Voorhees, N.J., had such an experience when the practice changed management services companies. The group’s new management services provider – CHA, LLC – learned that the previous vendor had not properly licensed the software the large pediatric practice was using. This problem took them down a path that ultimately led the practice away from a desktopbased computing environment.

The CHA team, directed by chief information officer William Cox, was in the process of evaluating Wyse thin client technology for the practice after discovering the licensing issue. The thin clients exposed them to a new product that would aid the move from desktops: PowerTerm WebConnect from Ericom Software of Closter, N.J.

PowerTerm WebConnect arrived embedded on the Wyse thin clients, and Cox says the server-based software helped CHA centralize the management and administration of the multiple applications accessed by the practice’s 700 users.

“When our end users log into their thin client, they are presented with an interface that feels like a locally-hosted application,” said Cox. “Most of the environment can be implemented on a single Windows server, and the scalability is wonderful.”

Like many physician practices, the IT environment at Children’s Health was predominantly desktop-based. The practice now centralizes its applications on a Windows Terminal Server 2003 and runs legacy applications on SCO UNIX and IBM UNIX  from the Wyse thin clients and legacy PCs. Users access the applications via the PowerTerm WebConnect portal.

Cox says that moving away from a desktop environment saves a great deal of time and resources. CHA chose Linux architecture for reliability and cost ratio, and Cox also notes that licensing costs have been reduced 60 percent compared to a Windows-based portal solution.

Eran Heyman, the CEO and founder of Ericom, said healthcare providers like Children’s Health Associates want to use various solutions to provide value, and software vendors must create flexible products to address their needs.

“We’re really agnostic in regard to technology and we will promote best of breed technologies that our clients can benefit from,” Heyman said. “We think you should support all technologies in an environment that can scale.”

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