We’re going to be sharing a story every week for the 12 weeks of summer, showing you how healthcare organisations are using technology to transform patient outcomes and increase productivity. For the tenth blog in the series, Andy Launchbury explores why Windows Virtual Desktop is ideal for improving patient care.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI) have been big in the NHS for some time. Healthcare organisations have made huge successes in enhancing workforce productivity and transforming patient care through the use of this technology. In addition, it strengthens defences against cyber-attacks.
Despite this success, many trusts up and down the country believe there’s a serious barrier to entry preventing them from taking advantage of this technology. Primary among these is cost, with significant investment required in infrastructure and software to run these environments on premises. Further to this are the complexities, resources, and time required to manage these environments
These concerns and many more can be addressed with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).
WVD is a comprehensive desktop and application VDI based service hosted in Azure. The service is now generally available worldwide.
Through a deal between the Department of Health and Microsoft, all NHS trusts automatically have access to the Windows Virtual Desktop through the Windows Enterprise E5 licensing at no additional cost.
This brings incredible benefits to medical staff, while overcoming many challenges faced by trusts.
1. One virtual machine, multiple sessions
Windows 10 Multi-Session is a unique feature included with WVD. This core element circumvents the common challenge in the healthcare sector: medical staff can’t be tied to a desk all day, and few hospitals can afford multiple computers for each employee, especially when budgets are tight and patient care is the top priority.
This feature is only available in Azure, letting you run a virtual version of Windows 10, with multiple users able to securely log in and out to access a true Windows 10 desktop experience as required.
This lets staff at every level work remotely, picking up tasks and checking in, wherever they are in the building or out on the road doing home visits. It’s an opportunity for NHS trusts to reduce costs without compromising the user experience and to save time in writing up hand-written notes when they’re back in the office.
There are significant consolidation savings that could be realised here, without any compromise on user experience – the only commercial consideration is the cost of compute to run the Windows 10 Virtual Machine instances in Azure. And with options such as reserved instances in Azure, there’s further options to reduce costs.
2. Flexibility and innovation
No two NHS trusts are the same. Each has its own unique and nuanced processes and challenges to overcome, and methods for delivering exceptional patient care. Too many off-the-shelf technology solutions are restrictive, when what’s required is flexibility in your IT systems and the apps you use.
FSLogix is another key functionality directly built into the WVD.
Historically, Office 365 apps has played havoc with VDIs. Windows Virtual Desktop addresses these issues head-on, with FSLogix featuring software capabilities like Profile Container and App Masking to ensure a seamless Office 365 ProPlus experience for all medical staff.
With a virtual desktop that’s freely available to all healthcare professionals, you’re also able to make the choices that best impact your healthcare organisation. By harnessing the power of the Azure cloud, you’re easily able to start a proof-of-concept in minutes, scale to a pilot scheme, and produce results quicker than ever. When targeting enhanced productivity or dramatically improving the care you offer, speed and innovation often determine success.
3. Secure management
With Windows Virtual Desktop, you have the flexibility to select and deploy virtual machines using secure Windows 10 images via the Azure marketplace, or you can import your own image if you have invested into and want to use the same base as your physical endpoint estate.
For ongoing management, you can also utilise familiar technologies such as System Center Configuration Manager or InTune, with the option to also use native services such as Azure Update management via the WVD Management portal.
4. Power-up your virtual desktop
The employee experience is a core part of your healthcare output – a motivated and productive employee means superior patient care, delivered to the highest possible degree. When it comes to technology, one of the main barriers to this is forcing your healthcare professionals to undertake frustrating workarounds because they lack the right tools.
WVD is designed to integrate with external components and solutions from key industry partners offering VDI solutions. Citrix, as a leading example have partnered with Microsoft at an engineering level since the inception of the WVD. Microsoft has worked closely with these partners to ensure our combined solutions work seamlessly, making the employee experience as smooth as can be – because no healthcare professional wishes to waste time on tools that barely allow them to do the job while patients suffer. With your virtual desktop equipped with even greater capability, staff will have everything they need to care for your patients.
Powering healthcare at no additional cost
Now that your trust already has access to the power of WVD via the Windows Enterprise E5 licence – and at no additional cost – take it one step further, by combining it with the power of the Microsoft cloud to create a truly modern desktop experience for the benefit of all staff and patients.
Find out more
About the author
Andy Launchbury is Technology Strategist in Microsoft UK’s healthcare team. He likens this role to a healthcare CTO with a focus on the cloud, and works to understand the challenges and innovations healthcare customers are addressing, and to architect solutions using technologies offered by Microsoft and its partners. Andy has a single aim: to help move the NHS and the healthcare industry forward through technologies.