Can't Virtualize Epic EMR? Layer It!

Posted by Tom Rose on Sep 17, 2014

As Unidesk expands in healthcare, we're hearing more of  this:

  • "I can't virtualize Epic EMR!"
  • "Deploying Epic EMR in virtual environments is harder than it was on physical PCs!"
  • "We can't deliver Epic with VDI!"

hcb_cant-virtualize-epicEpic is one of the most popular Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software solutions in the world, used by many mid-size and large medical groups, hospitals and integrated healthcare organizations. Not being able to deliver the Epic Hyperspace client is a showstopper for those trying to implement virtual clinical workspaces.

Here are the 2 big issues IT organizations hit trying to virtualize Epic EMR in Citrix XenDesktop and VMware Horizon View environments:

  1. Complexity.  Microsoft App-V, VMware ThinApp, and other traditional app virtualization tools are too complex for lean healthcare IT teams. The desktop prep, pre-scans, post-scans, scripting workarounds, Windows registry tweaks, and package delivery procedures needed to virtualize the Epic client 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 Epic Hyperspace needs to be cracked open to apply updates (which can be as often as once a month).

  2. No Interoperability.  Traditional application virtualization technology packages apps in their own “sandboxes,” effectively isolating them from Windows and other applications. Isolation prevents application interoperability and cross-communication, which is not a good fit for Epic EMR.  As the hub of healthcare operations, Epic needs to interoperate with reporting systems, radiology and imaging systems, and many other clinical apps. Isolating Epic defeats the whole point of having a single, centralized medical record.

Application layering is the solution to the "can't virtualize Epic" problem.  Layering has 2 big advantages over traditional app virtualization:

  1. Simplicity.  Packaging applications, even complex ones like Epic, is easy with application layering technology such as Unidesk.  Click Create Layer, and Unidesk launches a prepped and ready VM with just your clean gold image of Windows installed. Now just run the Epic setup procedure as you would on a physical PC. All files and registry keys that are added or changed by Epic are saved as a shareable, read-only virtual disk. This Epic "layer" is now ready to be assigned to any number of VMs. Updating Epic is just as easy, with the added benefit that every version is stored separately, making it easy to audit changes and even revert back to a previous layer version to undo bad patches.create-layer-wizard_nobrowser_wyse
  2. Full Interoperability.  Unlike traditional application virtualization tools 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, so Epic has no problem interoperating with other applications.

Read how Group Health Centre is successfully delivering and updating Epic EMR in their VDI environment using Unidesk layering technology.

Or, watch this on-demand webinar featuring a panel of healthcare IT experts, including Group Health, as they share desktop virtualization best practices and lessons learned around storage, thin clients, BYOD, EMR delivery, personalization, printing, and more.

Topics: Healthcare, Epic, EMR

Posted by Tom Rose on Sep 17, 2014

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