We previously wrote about the 3 challenges trying to virtualize and deliver EMR apps in VDI. This article will look at how new virtual desktop management technology called "layering" solves all 3 problems. Whether you're using Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft RDS, or VMware Horizon View for virtual desktop connectivity, layering makes delivering Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software such as Allscripts, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Epic, McKesson, and Meditech fast and easy for healthcare IT organizations that are moving their Windows desktops to the cloud.
1. Layering Makes Patching Highly Efficient
With layering technology, any application - including EMR - can be packaged quickly as its own read-only, shareable virtual disk. By separating all apps from Windows, you can keep your Windows OS layer clean and finally have one true golden image that can be used for all desktops. Even if you have different desktop pools and application combinations, or need a mix of persistent and non-persistent desktops to satisfy all of your use cases, you'll be able to provision all desktops from the same OS layer.
The IT staff time and resource savings from this approach is huge given how often EMR apps change and how quickly the number of Windows images grows in VDI environments without layering. The many physician, clinical, ancillary, financial, and ambulatory modules that make up EMR apps often require patching the Windows client for new features or compliance enhacements to take effect. Whether you build your EMR client app into your single Windows OS layer or package it separately in its own app layer, you'll have a single shared instance that only need to be patched once. The same will be true of Windows itself and all of your other apps.
2. Layering EMR is Fast and Easy
Layering applications, even complex EMR apps like Epic and McKesson, is much easier and faster than using traditional application virtualization technologies such as VMware ThinApp. How much easier and faster? Here's how Unidesk does it.
Click Create Layer, and Unidesk launches a prepped and ready VM with just your clean gold image of Windows installed. Now just run the setup procedure for your EMR app as you would on a physical PC. All files and registry keys that are added or changed are saved as a shareable, read-only virtual disk. This EMR app "layer" is now ready to be assigned to any number of VMs. Updating your EMR app is just as easy, with the added benefit that every version is stored separately. You'll be able to audit all changes and even revert back to a previous layer version to undo bad patches.
3. Layering EMR Ensures Full Interoperability
Unlike traditional application virtualization tools like ThinApp that isolate apps in their own "sandbox" or "bubble," every Unidesk layered app behaves as if it is locally installed. Windows and other apps are not aware that the app is a read-only, shared virtual disk, merged with the Windows OS layer to create a virtual C: hard drive. All files, data, and registry settings are stored in the usual places, and can be seen by native Windows tools. Apps and plug-ins cross-communicate and share data as if they are natively installed.
This technical approach makes layering much better suited to delivering EMR apps since it ensures full interoperability with reporting systems, radiology and imaging systems, Adobe Reader, and the many other apps that it needs to communicate with.