Quick login makes for better patient care

Forty-five seconds is a lifetime for doctors at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto when trying to access patient information on their computers.

The hospital’s goal was to reduce that time to less than five seconds when it implemented Novell Inc. Clinical Workstation last month.

Novell developed the system to give clinicians a quick single login to all applications needed for them to do their jobs.

“In the past, normal login on a PC was 45 to 60 seconds, which is far too long. The physician can’t work; they will come into a clinical exam room and would have allocated somewhere between 60 to 100 seconds with a patient. If they have to spend half that time logging in, it is not going to work,” said Bill Henry, CIO for St. Michael’s Hospital.

The quick single login feature was the key piece missing from the hospital’s previous solution that prompted Henry to implement Clinical Workstation. One challenge he faced with deployment was doing too much too quickly.

“We tried to get this working on too many devices at the same time and I think because of that the team lost a degree of focus,” Henry said.

Eventually, his team was able narrow the scope to an initial roll-out on six PCs.

Anyone who works in a clinical setting, including doctors, nurses, therapists and pharmacists, would use the system in areas like clinical exam rooms.

Applications on the workstations would include results viewing for things like blood tests and PACS (Picture Archiving Communications System) that allow a technician to view pictures taken with medical imaging technology.

Clinicians would also have access to their e-mail messages and the Internet. Testing on the six PCs will ensure the technology works and suits the way a clinician does his or her work.

If successful, Henry hopes to have the software deployed to 1,000 devices across the hospital by next year.

“We would like to move [the solution] onto wireless laptops, wireless tablets, a variety of thin client devices and handheld devices,” he said. A clinician would use the system by going to the nearest hospital PC and entering her unique user ID and password. Clinical Workstation would then open up to a Web browser that would provide access to all applications to which the clinician has authorized access.

“[Clinical Workstation] is opening them up into a Web browser, which is the quickest way to deliver somebody’s personalized environment,” said Chris Bidleman, director of health care solutions, Novell Worldwide Services.

The information and applications on the workstations are used internally in hospitals and secured via an SSL or HTTPS connection. Henry explained that every time a clinician turns on the device it will only take them to the login prompt; he added that this prevents people from messing with the operating system.

CeCe Bowman, Novell’s Tampa, Fla.-based industry marketing manager for health care, added that clinicians would also be able to access information using the Clinical Workstation solution from another facility that is part of the same health care organization.

Eventually, Henry would like to have the Clinical Workstation available to clinicians outside the hospital environment. One feature of the Clinical Workstation St. Michael’s is not using, but is interested in adding at a later date, is context management or CCOW that would ensure patient safety.

“There is a nasty statistic in health care where nearly 200,000 people die in North America due to preventable medical errors. Part of that is not looking at the right information….CCOW gives you the [assurance] you are looking at [the same patient] across all applications,” Bidleman said.

When searching for a solution, Henry looked at other vendors but felt Novell was a reputable company in the area of identity management, which was central in almost everything the hospital does, especially in the area of confidentiality.

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