At North York General Hospital, care providers can securely access IT systems from their mobile devices with Citrix solutions
In an academic hospital, mobility plays a key role in addressing clinician needs and improving the quality of care. Physicians, interns, nursing students, residents, and others expect to work any time and from anywhere, accessing critical hospital information systems on the devices they choose.
To meet compliance mandates and protect patient privacy, North York General Hospital in Toronto needed to create an IT environment where access to information, especially patient data, is secure.
The hospital, which has more than 800 physicians serving about 30 000 inpatients and 107 000 emergency room visitors annually, chose Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop to deliver its Cerner electronic health record (EHR) software to a variety of desktop and mobile devices.
The organization also uses Citrix NetScaler application delivery controller to enable seamless and secure remote access. Now employees can access a wide variety of applications, data, and reports from the hospital, their offices, or homes without compromising security or availability. “Mobile solutions are increasingly important to our staff as people merge their work and personal lives,” says Christos Adamidis, North York’s systems engineer and Citrix administrator.
“With Citrix technology, we can create a controlled environment that allows clinicians to access patient data while keeping it safe and secure,” says Sumon Acharjee, North York’s chief information officer.
Continuous, consistent access to data enhances patient safety
With anywhere access to clinical apps, physicians can start work at their offices, updating medical orders, checking test results, and working on a patient chart. Then after arriving at the hospital, they can continue where they left off, saving them time while making sure they always have access to the most up-to-date patient data.
Citrix solutions are part of North York’s eCare initiative, a hospitalwide IT transformation strategy that aims to improve the quality and safety of care provided to patients every day.
Over the past six years, this multiyear clinical transformation project has won seven national awards, including most recently the HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence, for improving patient care and increasing the number of lives saved.
Together, remote or local order entry into a patient’s EHR, closed-loop barcode medication reconciliation software, and clinical decision support prevented almost 8 000 unintentional adverse drug events and 11 000 potential medication errors. “The Citrix solutions, when used to support the Cerner software, create a consistent environment that is a true enabler of safer patient care,” Acharjee says.
Remote data access improves provider efficiency
Secure remote access to clinical apps and data helps healthcare professionals be more productive, deliver services faster, and work more efficiently. System performance and response times are equally high no matter which device is used or where the clinician accesses the data.
Clinicians can even use their personal mobile devices to safely access data.
“Because we essentially have built a security wall around everything, we are comfortable allowing people to do what they need to do, wherever they are, with whichever device they want to use,” Adamidis says. The Citrix solutions also help busy professionals work efficiently, which is important in a high-pressure healthcare environment. “Everything just works, which makes it easier for providers to get things done,” Acharjee says. “We have a reputation as an advanced hospital with technology solutions that are attractive to clinicians.”
Improved management simplifies IT administration and maintenance
In the virtualized desktop environment, IT can make changes like software updates and upgrades at the server level rather than on a device-by-device basis. The Citrix tools also automatically notify IT staff if performance is lagging, saving time and resources.
It used to take the organization three full days to complete a software upgrade on its then-300 PCs. Now, with 1 500 PCs, the team can update all servers in just five to six hours. Without Citrix solutions, the hospital would need to quadruple its IT staff.
“In the past, we had to touch every machine,” says Alshad Damji, North York’s IT manager. “It was a huge effort. Now it is very quick and easy to execute software upgrades.”
For North York General Hospital, the Citrix solutions create a foundation that helps support mobile access to clinical records and increase communication among care providers across the healthcare spectrum.
“The whole suite of Citrix solutions just works so well together,” Acharjee says. “Citrix provides a secure environment that will help us support collaborative care throughout the entire patient journey.”