USF Health: EPIC EMR in a Unidesk Layer Was a Project-Saver

Posted by Richard Savage on Sep 23, 2015

This is a guest blog by Richard Savage, Senior Systems Administrator and End User Computing Architect at USF Health.


We at USF Health recently decided to migrate to Epic EMR for outpatient management. Epic is one of the leading electronic medical record (EMR) systems in hospitals and academic medical centers, with highly integrated solutions for managing inpatient, ambulatory, and specialty clinical systems, as well as access and revenue solutions for practice management, billing, and managed care. We're happy to be counted as one of Epic's 355 customers.

One of the challenges with any enterprise software implementation - especially one that has many integrated modules like Epic - is how to deliver it to the end user. In our case, we are using virtual desktops as the delivery vehicle for Epic. We have a 1,500-user implementation of Unidesk for desktop image management and application delivery and VMware Horizon View for virtual desktop connectivity.

Having Unidesk in place as our application delivery solution before we made the move to Epic was a lifesaver. Unidesk uses a technology called "layering" to deliver apps to desktops and terminal servers as virtual disks. You layer an app with an ordinary install. Unidesk captures all file system and registry changes for that application in the layer. Then you can assign the layer to any number of machines without ever having to install the app again.

Having Epic as a layer in Unidesk allowed us to adapt to the expanding groups that we discovered would need to access the application. We have many side groups that need Epic, but each has different application requirements from our main users. In the dark days before Unidesk, we would have needed to install Epic in a base VM for each different configuration. This would have required an entire day each time (Epic is a good name for the install - it’s massive). Having Epic in a layer has given us the flexibility to assign the app to any virtual desktop that needs it.

Since this project was on a short timeline from the beginning, we were able to deploy to all groups very quickly just by adding the layer to existing VMs and restarting them. That time savings gave our small admin group sufficient time to focus on solving other issues with the deployment and made it as smooth as possible. It really isn’t exaggerating to say that Unidesk has saved the project for us a few times now.

Are you having challenges delivering and updating Epic EMR in a VDI or Citrix environment? Have you considered layering? Let me know by commenting below and I would be happy to share my insights with you.

Topics: Healthcare, Epic, EMR, application layering

Posted by Richard Savage on Sep 23, 2015

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