3 Challenges Virtualizing EMR Apps in VDI

Posted by Tom Rose on Oct 7, 2014

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) applications such as Allscripts, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Epic, McKesson, and Meditech are at the heart of every healthcare organization's IT strategy.  Increasingly, EMRs are being deployed in concert with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).  But there are 3 issues almost every healthcare IT team faces trying to virtualize and deliver EMR in VDI.

hcb_three-challenges-to-virtualizing-emr1. Building EMR Into Your Windows Image Makes Patching Inefficient

Many healthcare IT organizations start by trying to package Epic, McKesson, Allscripts, and other EMR applications in their Windows gold image. However, the many applications used in healthcare and the different desktop configurations required by different users and departments often lead to a new Windows image for every 50-100 desktops. Since an EMR is used by almost every employee, the EMR client will need to be built into every image. That means you'll be patching every image every time you need to update the EMR. 

Making matters worse is that EMR apps change frequently. The many physician, clinical, ancillary, financial, and ambulatory modules that make up EMRs often require patches to the Windows client to make new feature or compliance enhacements take effect.  So you'll be patching many images many times just to keep your EMR app current.

2. Packaging EMR with ThinApp or App-V is Complex

Microsoft App-V, VMware ThinApp, and other traditional app virtualization tools are often too complex for many lean healthcare IT teams. The desktop prep, pre-scans, post-scans, scripting workarounds, Windows registry tweaks, and package delivery procedures needed to virtualize Epic, McKesson, Allscripts and other EMR clients are time-consuming and require high levels of expertise.

Even if the process is mastered by a dedicated expert, that expert will be called upon every time the EMR needs to be cracked open to apply updates. As explained in #1 above, this can be pretty frequent, making virtualizing EMR no more efficient than building it into your Windows images.

3. Virtualizing EMR Prevents Interoperability

Traditional application virtualization technology packages apps in their own "sandboxes," effectively isolating them from Windows and other applications.  This is useful for some apps.  But preventing application interoperability and cross-communication is not a good fit for EMR apps.

As the hub of healthcare operations, EMR needs to interoperate with reporting systems, radiology and imaging systems, and many other clinical apps. Isolating EMR defeats the whole point of having a single, centralized medical record.

Is There a Better Way to Virtualize and Deliver EMR in VDI?

Yes. New desktop layering software addresses all 3 of these challenges. To learn more about how desktop layering makes deploying EMR fast and easy, read A Better Way to Deliver Healthcare EMR Apps in VDI.

Topics: Healthcare, Allscripts, Epic, EMR, Meditech, McKesson

Posted by Tom Rose on Oct 7, 2014

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