Struggling to Virtualize McKesson EMR for VDI?

Posted by Jordan Murphy on Oct 14, 2014

McKesson Paragon® is one of the most popular electronic medical record (EMR) software solutions used in healthcare. Many care providers are tying the deployment of McKesson EMR with the deployment of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

Given that application delivery is one of the biggest roadblocks to VDI success, and that healthcare IT organizations are hitting lots of issues trying to virtualize their EMR and EHR applications, it should come as no surprise that McKesson EMR app delivery is often a major issue.struggling-to-virtualize-mckesson

The Challenges of Virtualizing McKesson EMR

So what problems are IT organizations running into when they try to deploy McKesson EMR in VDI environments with VMware Horizon View, Citrix XenDesktop or Microsoft RDS? Our recent blog on the challenges of virtualizing EMR apps has the details, but in short:

  • Building McKesson into your Windows image makes patching highly inefficient.
  • Packaging McKesson with traditional app virtualization tools like ThinApp or App-V is very complex, requiring a lot of IT staff time and expertise.
  • Virtualizing McKesson with these isolation or "sandbox" technologies means no interoperability with PACS, Adobe PDF, and other key applications.

The Solution: Deliver McKesson EMR with Layering Technology

With new application layering technology from vendors such as Unidesk, patching and updating McKesson EMR in VDI environments is easy and efficient. Here are the 3 big advantages that layering has over trying to virtualize McKesson:

#1 One Gold Image

Layering enables you to package any app quickly as a read-only virtual disk that can be shared by many virtual machines. By separating all of your apps from Windows, you can keep your Windows OS clean, and use one true gold image for all desktops. Even if you have different desktop pools and app combos, or need persistent and non-persistent desktops to satisfy all use cases, you can provision them all from the same, singular OS layer that only needs to be patched once.

#2 Simplicity

Layering makes packaging applications, even complex ones like McKesson, super-easy, enabling more of your IT staff to become app pacakging experts and greatly reducing the time and resource needed for app delivery. Here's how easy it is to layer McKesson with 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 McKesson setup procedure as you would on a physical PC. All files and registry keys that are added or changed by McKesson are saved as a shareable, read-only virtual disk. This McKesson "layer" is now ready to be assigned to any number of VMs. Updating McKesson 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.

Unidesk VDI Management Console

#3 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 McKesson has no problem interoperating with other applications.

Real World Example: Shannon Medical Center

Shannon Medical VDI Stack

Unidesk customer Shannon Medical Center is a healthcare VDI success story that is delivering McKesson Paragon with layering technology. The healthcare provider based in San Angelo, Texas has virtualized all servers and over 660 desktops in their private cloud.

Shannon Medical's lean IT team believed that increasing the use of McKesson EMR was the best way to standardize order entry and achieve meaningful use objectives. Virtual desktops were the tool tthat would help get their care providers to more consistently use the EMR.

Shannon implemented Unidesk as its single pane of glass management solution for virtual desktop provisioning, image management, application layering, storage optimization, and provider personalization.

Today, Shannon is able to efficiently deliver and update McKesson EMR as well as all of its other clinical applications, including Dragon Naturally Speaking, Imprivata OneSign, Microsoft Office, and many others.

Are you delivering McKesson EMR in your virtual desktop environment? What method of application delivery are you using? Traditional PC software distribution tools? Application streaming? Application virtualization? Or application layering? Let us know!

Topics: Healthcare, McKesson

Posted by Jordan Murphy on Oct 14, 2014

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