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Saint Mary’s Hospital, a Catholic not-for-profit community teaching hospital based in Waterbury, Connecticut, is in the process of moving to a new electronic health record (EHR) system. Saint Mary’s is affiliated with Yale University Residency Training Program and thus has a tech-savvy hospitalist group and many young residents. The clinicians at the 345-bed hospital are highly mobile. In fact, according to Tom Calo, solution engineer, 75 percent of the workforce is mobile – and that number is rising. “Our BYOD (bring your own device) numbers are going up and the number of corporate-owned devices is going down,” he revealed.
With a highly mobile workforce and so many devices and applications to manage – including productivity and business tools – one would expect the migration to a new EHR to be complex. With virtualization achieved through a suite of Citrix solutions and authentication management with the Imprivata single sign-on solution, the process is simplified. “We won’t need to rip and replace the delivery tool on all the devices,” Calo explained. “In one day, we can switch from one product to another.”
Saint Mary’s Hospital has been fine-tuning its clinical workflow efficiency and enhancing its existing Citrix workflows since it implemented an EHR five years ago. At that time, getting the right members on the team was important. The hospital recruited Birgit Koellmer, RN, nurse informaticist and clinical workflow expert, to join the IT professionals to help with the deployment, particularly in the area of workflow and clinical documentation.
Koellmer spearheaded the idea of getting the IT team out of the data center and into the clinicians’ environment. IT now makes the rounds on the floors with doctors and medical personnel to identify ways to support a more efficient workflow. “As a nurse, I wanted to bring knowledge back to the IT team to help improve how the ways in which we deliver mobile capabilities and crucial apps and data to users,” she said.
One of the issues in need of resolution was the fact that many users did not disconnect when they were done with documentation. Pages timed out when clinicians walked away from workstations, which left patient information exposed. “We had to come up with a solution,” Calo said.
It was crucial for the solution to enable clinicians to roam around the hospital and be able to rapidly call up their screens no matter where they were. “We needed to provide them with the ability to access any device, anywhere, any time,” Koellmer said. “We needed to rapidly deliver our applications to our users.”
The solution also had to be easy for clinicians to use. “We were trying to reduce clicks as much as possible,” Calo added. Quick and secure delivery of applications is especially critical, given that the hospital employs remote contractors.
The team automated the workflow with a single sign-on and a virtual desktop. Now with data always residing in the data center and not left on the end point, virtualization enables protected health information to remain secure.
While virtualization supports the clinicians, it also allows the IT team to work more efficiently. “In IT, we work 24 hours a day, but I don’t sit in the office 24 hours a day,” Calo said. When he is off-site, whether on business or on personal time, he can still respond. He gets a consistent user experience regardless of location or device. “I can show clinicians how it’s been important to me,” he said. “Then they can imagine how to apply mobility technology to their lives.”
”Saint Mary’s is very user-centric,” Koellmer said. “We work together in teams – the technical and clinical people.” Once the IT team determines a need, it can quickly customize a solution to meet the clinician’s needs or expand on something that is already delivered.
The end result of virtualization and authentication management? Clinicians are empowered with applications synchronized across all their devices, and IT staff can easily deliver those applications. With these best practices in place, the move to the new EHR can be as easy as flipping a switch on Day One.