The Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) has introduced a virtual desktop program that enables clinicians to save time on having to keep logging into their devices, in addition to improving the management of patient records. 
 
The program, named Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), was implemented by the Department of Corporate and Information Services (DCIS) and the Department of Health, and supports nurses and doctors through a configuration of functionality across ten software products.
 
This includes accessibility to RDH business applications from the virtual desktop, secure external access from outside the hospital, and cyber security improvements for better security of patient information. 
 
"A clinician logs on to a device up to 200 times a shift, and the cumulative time and cost of that process in the whole ED over a year was estimated as equivalent to an additional eight full-time equivalent persons,” Top End Health Service Director of Emergency Medicine Associate Professor Didier Palmer said. 
 
“Using a shared generic account avoided this at the cost of security of clinical records. 
 
“VDI has provided secure auditable access, the convenience of a personal/hot-desk experience for users, and substantial savings and efficiencies… [enabling] better health outcomes,” Palmer said. 
 
In addition, the program supports hospital service delivery, enabling efficiencies for clinicians in accessing computer systems while eliminating generic logon practices to improve data security. 
 
A DCIS spokesperson said the project is in line with the $259 million new health IT system – the Core Clinical Systems Renewal Program (CCSRP) – that the Department of Health and DCIS are delivering to create a secure, digitally enabled, Territory-wide electronic health record across NT Health services. 
 
 
According to the DCIS spokesperson, the project is focused on modernising and ensuring customer-centric digital services, while also maintaining secure systems to protect Territorians’ data.
 
“The Northern Territory Government recognises the benefits that digital technology can deliver and is progressing an inclusive and streamlined digital reform agenda that will transform service delivery across many frontline government services under the Digital Territory Strategy,” the spokesperson said. 
 
CCSRP requires users have unique logons, along with securing access to records in public facing health service treatment spaces. This VDI installation aims to resolve two significant data security issues: potential patient data compromise from lost devices and generic logon practices.  
 
But the project also faced several challenges, which DCIS ICT Architecture and Cyber Security Assistant Senior Director Greg Connors said involved creating the solution while still utilising existing automation, infrastructure and services to manage it. 
 
“It meant using an existing framework for upgrades, patching and service provisioning alongside new ways to manage workstation images and life cycles. This was key to keeping management costs for this environment to a minimum." 
 
Since being ‘stress-tested’ at the busiest part of the Royal Darwin Hospital, the value of the configuration of technology has been quickly recognised and its use expanded. 
 
The VDI solution has been introduced to the new Palmerston Regional Hospital Emergency Department and according to the DCIS spokesperson, it could potentially be applicable to the hospital and health services environment and scalable for application across the clinical spectrum. 
 
 
Moving forward, the solution will be expanded to use on iPad devices, including for use within health services and potential future deployment to field workers, such as police officers, park rangers, housing inspectors and other field-based staff.
 
The program was also recently one of four finalists at the National Australian Computer Society Digital Disruptor Award, a first for the Territory. 
 
Minister for Corporate and Information Services Lauren Moss said the project is an example of the Territory leading the nation in VDI Emergency Department implementation, especially in providing a comprehensive and secure solution that meets the specific needs of clinicians and ensuring patient care.
 
“The national award highlights and recognises the calibre of the local ICT sector and importance of investing in jobs of the future,” Moss added. 
 

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