How Kootenai Health Is Reaping the Benefits of VDI, SSO

When he joined Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, as CIO in 2012, Steve Garske, PhD, already knew the benefits of desktop virtualization infrastructure and single sign-on technology. In his previous role as CIO of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, he oversaw the implementation of VDI and SSO in one of the organization's new buildings in July 2011.

"Strategic VDI and SSO implementation led to increased productivity in clinical areas," he says.

He knew that the faster loading times of virtualized desktops and the reduced number of logins with SSO would improve productivity at Kootenai Health as well.

"We observed clinical workflow and tracked the time clinicians spent logging in as they moved from station to station," says Dr. Garske. "We calculated VDI and SSO implementation would lead to annual productivity savings of more than $1 million, while also improving the day-to day experience for the physicians and nurses."

The use of VDI, and especially SSO, has security benefits as well. Clinicians can be tempted to share login credentials in order to speed up their workflow, which can compromise data security. Now that hospital employees can use their badges to quickly “tap” in and out of each workstation, password sharing has been virtually eliminated. The IT department is also able to push out updates and new images more quickly and easily across the entire system.

The rollout process, which is scheduled to be completed at Kootenai Health’s 254-bed community hospital by mid-June, has gone very smoothly, says Dr. Garske. He attributes the success of the rollout to our phased approach. The new technology was first tested internally in the IT department and then through a small pilot group of select users. It was then rolled out department-by-department in the hospital.

"I recommend a phased implementation approach. By implementing VDI/SSO in the IT department before releasing it to the organization, we were able to eliminate issues and fine-tune our processes" he says.

Launching the new system department-by-department keeps the IT staff from being overextended when it comes to providing technical support to users. "An incremental rollout ensures targeted support," he says. "It's much more efficient and allows us to provide better customer service."

The rollout has had an overall positive effect on clinician satisfaction and workflow improvement.

"With VDI and SSO, providers can log in to a system in their office, tap out of it, walk into a patient's room and proceed in the exact same spot without needing to type login credentials or restart an application," says Dr. Garske. "That's a huge benefit for the clinical workflow."

Once the implementation process at the inpatient facility is complete, Dr. Garske and his team intend to implement VDI and SSO in the organization’s 28 outpatient clinics. Following the phased approach, the team first conducted a pilot rollout with one clinic to ensure both that the technology would work at a clinic located about 25 miles away from the main campus and that it would improve clinical workflows.

"Both of those answers turned out to be yes," he says. "The providers are especially appreciative, and distance and limited connectivity has not decreased the benefit of the technology."

"The VDI and SSO technology is just an all-around success," says Dr. Garske. "I'd absolutely recommend it to anyone."

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