Virtualization, thin clients to mobilise healthcare at rural hospital in Victoria

South West Alliance of Rural Health will rollout Cisco virtualization infrastructure across its 13 organisations starting with the largest, Barwon Health

The South West Alliance of Rural Heath (SWARH) has done a deal with Cisco for the provision of its Virtualization Experience Infrastructure to improve the workflow and collaboration throughout its 13 organisations.

The SWARH, which encompasses a mix of public health agencies, non-government organisations and medical clinics, covers an area of 60,000 square kilometres across Victoria with 180 sites.

SWARH CIO, Garry Druitt, said the alliance, which has 4000 phones (to be increased to 8000 in coming months) and 4000-5000 desktops, had been an early adopter of the platform because it needed the solution.

“This is the solution we’ve been waiting for… the virtualization of the desktop solves a financial issue we have which is caused by a set of fat clients,” Druitt said. “We’ve been waiting for a long time, because our fat clients have sort of scaled up to be rich media of video and telephony.”

"We run Cisco’s unified communications telephony across the region and also video with a fat client integration," he said.

Under the deal, the alliance will deploy Cisco’s Virtualization Experience Client 2100 devices, released last November, which will attach to the back of the IP phones, and Cisco’s unified computing system B-Series blade server with which SWARH will virtualize 70 per cent of its applications, as it acts as a converged data centre platform for network, computer and storage access.

“We haven’t been able to move to a lower cost thin client solution until because the technology has not been available to give the same experience.

“With a vision of delivering ICT as a service to create more efficient and collaborative patient care environments, we expect the Cisco Virtual Experience Infrastructure to help us make a significant step forward in achieving this, whilst addressing the demand of an extremely mobile staff and the requirements relating to risk and regulatory compliance and business continuity for health and data information.”

The key driver, Druitt said, was the lower cost of delivery for the platform while it maintains rich media at the end point.

“The other driver was complexity; we have virtualization in processing, the network, in storage from the user’s point of view, but we didn’t have virtualization of the end point and once we have that it can be packaged and delivered as an outsourced model with vendors who are specialists in the area eliminating a high risk or a developing risk profile.”

According to Druitt, four specific agencies have critical services which always have to be on delivering direct patient services and needed the underpinning infrastructure to guarantee the service would be available.

“We’ve had difficulty with all the elements to guarantee that because each has their own complexity but this is a great opportunity for us to package risk and outsource it in an end-to-end solution.

“For us it’s a highly resilient environment, ready to support clinical applications, no loss of service greater than five minutes and no loss of data for greater than five to 10 minutes.”

For SWARH’s largest member, and the first to rollout the Cisco platform, Barwon Health Hospital, this platform will help ease the issue of mixed infrastructure, said deputy chief executive, Paul Cohen, with the organisation battling with about 700 thin client devices and some 2300 fat devices.

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Tags ciscoe-healthSouth West Alliance of Rural Health (SWARH)Barwon HealthPaul CohenAnn LarkinGarry Druitt

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