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El Camino Hospital’s Desktop Virtualization Revolution

July 22, 2014
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What the healthcare IT leaders are doing at one California hospital to optimize workflow for clinicians

It was exciting to hear James Brummett, director of technical services at El Camino Hospital, present regarding the leading-edge IT development taking place at his two-hospital system, based in Mountain View, California, at the Health  Health IT Summit in Denver, on Tuesday, July 22.  The Summit is being sponsored by the Institute for Health Technology Transformation, or iHT2 (since December 2013, iHT2 has been in partnership with Healthcare Informatics through its acquisition by the Vendome Group, LLC, the parent company of Healthcare Informatics).

Regularly ranked as one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the world, El Camino was the very first hospital in the United States to implement an electronic medical record back in 1971, and has continued to be innovative in many IT areas.

What Brummett and his colleagues have done recently is to create a virtualized care delivery environment in which nurses (and others0 can log into the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR) from anywhere, with the core information system bringing forward everything that nurse needs, at any work station in the organization. When the nurse logs out, the connectivity goes away. They’ve also created something called “Unidesk,” which creates collections of application availability for employees. The system moves applications to groups of employees and individual staff members as needed, with no unnecessary redundancy or other unnecessary complexity.

Conceptually speaking, this is not complex. Yet why have so very few hospitals attempted it? Part of the answer lies beyond the technology involved; it speaks to culture. And as Brummet noted, the culture at El Camino has for several decades been IT-progressive and IT-innovative. In other words, the leaders of other patient care organizations will need to move forward along two dimensions, both to create the organizational cultures that can support IT innovation, and to implement the actual innovations themselves. One without the other remains an incomplete equation; but with both elements present, the future holds great promise.