Overcoming Healthcare IT challenges

How Cloudhouse is supporting the distribution of Healthcare applications to drive down costs and ensure consistent, constant and reliable access to the latest software.

Published: Tuesday, September 22 2015

Following the latest updates in healthcare IT we came across a very interesting, though common, case.  One of our customers is a healthcare application software provider. They have software installed on hundreds of thousands of desktops deployed within a number of large hospitals across the USA. With this scale of installed base, they have been rethinking the process behind rolling out new software releases to customers.

It turns out that the average cost of upgrading software within a typical hospital extends into the tens of thousands of dollars per hospital, per release.

Put into context, the rollout cost of just a few point releases within a hospital over a couple of years is of the same order of magnitude as acquiring, for example, a diagnostic scanner. In an era of shrinking budgets, it’s obvious in which direction a hospital will choose to spend its money.

From a customer satisfaction standpoint, the majority of hospitals are often using old software releases and regularly complain about missing functionality which, ironically, is usually present in the latest release. Our customer’s software support costs have escalated as a matter of fact that they must support an increasing set of legacy releases stretching back years.

How did this situation come about and how has it been resolved using Cloudhouse?

Healthcare software in general demands a high degree of integration between various software products from multiple vendors and physical devices, all interoperating on a Windows desktop. All these components have dependencies on platform release levels (browsers, libraries, .NET, Java runtimes as well as operating system releases, and so on).

Putting to one side the time and cost of pushing out and installing new software on each desktop, it’s the cost of managing and resolving incompatibilities between all of the interoperating software and device components that presents the major headache every time any component changes its release level.

So when our customer pushes out a new release, interoperability testing and rollout costs extend into months of elapsed time.

The classic solution in this scenario is application virtualization. This technology was invented to eliminate conflict by isolating application software components from underlying platform dependencies as well as from other software components. However, for our customer, the last part of this statement rendered traditional application virtualization unworkable in practice, precisely because it does such a thorough job of software isolation.

So whilst integration with commonly deployed software such as Microsoft Office comes pre-implemented in all app virtualization products, support for domain-specific solutions (by necessity) is not and interoperability is very hard to achieve as a result. Given the nature of healthcare software, integration is a key requirement.

As our customer found, if they went ahead using traditional app virtualization they would need to load everyone’s software bits into the virtualization “bubble”, including products supplied by 3rd parties, in order to preserve interoperability. They spent a year investigating this approach and concluded that it was non-starter. 

Cloudhouse brought a new approach to the table. Our revolutionary and patented approach to resolve this issue is “Open Containerization” which, simply put, preserves all the benefits of traditional approaches without any of the limitations around integration and interoperability.

  1. Reliable deployment – Our “Open Container” includes all of the required components to ensure that the application will “just run” in a self-contained manner;
  2. Open integration – Cloudhouse allows all existing integrations to work as though the applications were locally installed  ensuring that different browser releases can happily coexist on the same system.  Furthermore, the customer application is now fully portable across all Windows releases;
  3. Zero touch deployment – A branded app store allows users to click and download their applications - which then just run. There is zero installation involved and our customer can control entitlement, application persistence, desktop shortcuts and so on;
  4. On-going remote management – Our customer can centrally control the software upgrade process which, from the hospital user’s standpoint, happens silently. Furthermore, our customer can control the implementation of test and production application instances and the migration between these instances centrally with minimal effort;
  5. Enhanced security – Our customer’s application is implemented as a web app and runs within a locked down browser which therefore acts like an extension of our customer’s application and is secured and isolated from any external threat.

As a result, our solution has transformed how our customer’s web application can be deployed within a complex, highly-integrated, multi-vendor environment with significant commercial benefits delivered to both our customer and their hospital users alike.

Application upgrade and on-going management costs and timescales are slashed and our customer can release software with a more frequent cadence to deliver regular functional enhancements to users.

 Posted by Nick Harmer

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