Healthcare that transcends limitations of location

May 25, 2017
By James Millington, Director, Global Healthcare Solutions, VMware

Healthcare companies are looking at how to digitally transform using new technologies to improve the patient experience while driving down costs. With digital transformation comes a new understanding that patient care must be accessible anytime, anywhere. Healthcare is no longer confined to brick and mortar buildings. The point-of-care can be at a local outreach clinic, a homeless shelter, a factory, a school … or even a bus.

Mosaic Life Care, a member of the Mayo Clinic Network, is one such organization undergoing this digital transformation. Mosaic is a regional healthcare mainstay covering 23 counties in and around St. Joseph, MO, and the Kansas City Northland. It is part of a multi-state provider network with 5,600 beds and more than 47,000 employees. Mosaic is shifting its business model to a life care plan for patients in order to deliver a better and more convenient patient experience through the use of telehealth. These new remote and mobile services enable patient care from more convenient locations closer to home, work, or school.

Courtesy of VMware

“Mosaic recognized that we needed to improve our overall patient care by extending access from the surrounding communities, but do this in a way that also allowed us to save on cost,” said Brenda Williams, Vice President of Technology for Mosaic. “We also needed to ensure that while we delivered increased mobility for our caregivers, we were also maintaining the sacred trust of our patients by securing their information.”

Virtualization provides path forward

Solving the “anywhere” part of the health services equation in a secure manner presented a challenge to Mosaic. The organization understood the security and compliance concerns associated with remotely accessing patient data and the technical complexity of the task. Mosaic worked with VMware to address these challenges.

First Mosaic deployed a digital clinical workspace using VMware Horizon. The virtual desktop infrastructure solution provides a way to access electronic health records, healthcare applications, and electronic protected health information from any location in a fast, secure, and available manner to any number of devices caregivers. “Improving the wellness of a community begins by ensuring patients have convenient access to healthcare providers who in turn have ready access to up-to-date patient information,” said Stephanie Sutton, director of clinical applications at Mosaic. “This demands anywhere-access to patient information across distributed facilities and an increasing set of mobile devices to improve workflow.”

By presenting caregivers with a complete Horizon virtual desktop that resides in their data center and not on the endpoint device, Mosaic has reduced the risk factor from endpoint threats and lost or stolen devices. Horizon has also enabled Mosaic to adopt new approaches to where care could be delivered. Sutton noted, “Some of our large manufacturing employers have provided Mosaic the opportunity to go into their buildings and set up a mobile clinic space. Mosaic also has a bus that’s going around to different places and setting up an urgent care in parking lots.”

In addition, Mosaic implemented VMware NSX network virtualization to protect information and applications inside the data center. NSX enables the segmentation of a network down to the individual virtual machine level, a concept known as micro-segmentation. Micro-segmentation enables security controls to be applied to all workloads within the data center. This stops the lateral movement of threats that have breached traditional perimeter firewalls. By extending these segments to clinician endpoints, such as mobile devices and virtual desktops, NSX helps mitigate the threats of malware and ransomware.

“By securing our environment with micro-segmentation, our workers providing services in the field can only access the data they really need,” said Sutton. “Even if an attacker makes it past perimeter security and into the network, they will be unable to move laterally to compromise the servers containing PHI and other valuable information.”

Redefining the patient experience

By using virtualization to transform security and deliver a digital clinical workspace, Mosaic is closer to achieving its goal of transforming its business to transcend the traditional physical limitations of healthcare. It’s helping the organization respond to situations in ways they could have never imagined before. Williams noted a situation recently where, “… a caregiver had a fire offsite. The building had to be evacuated and was closed for three days. As the caregivers were evacuating, we set up a secure, fully functioning alternate location for about 40 people with VMware. In less than 30 minutes they were back in business doing their job.”

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