What is a Cloud Desktop?: Answers for the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry has historically lagged behind other industries when it comes to adopting new tech. With the advent of EMRs and pandemic-induced virtualization, however, practices have embraced—or at least accepted—the necessity of technology-enabled solutions. One of these solutions is cloud desktops.

“More and more healthcare organizations are moving to cloud desktops, and we can see why,” said Matt Murren, True North ITG CEO. “Cloud desktops offer an opportunity for secure anywhere access to vital systems, while providing operational efficiencies and cost savings.”

In this blog post, we’ll dive into what cloud desktops are, how they can benefit healthcare organizations, and where to begin with implementation.


What is a Cloud Desktop?: What to Know for Healthcare

Cloud-based desktops go by many names, including cloud virtual desktops, cloud-hosted desktops, or desktop-as-a-service (DaaS). No matter the nomenclature, this technology consists of a several basic components:

  • Server: Runs one or more instances of Windows from a data center
  • Desktop virtualization infrastructure: Configures instances and assigns users to the correct one
  • Gateway: Connects to secure access external to the data center
  • Endpoint device: End user’s device, typically a laptop, desktop, or mobile (sometimes a thin client)
  • Remote protocol: Connection that translates data between endpoint and server

The details of cloud computing may seem complex, but essentially a cloud desktop enables users to access a central source of programs, applications, and information virtually and securely.

When you have a team member at home or at a remote clinic who wants to finish running a report or connect to your EMR, they can safely connect to a cloud-based remote work environment and complete the necessary tasks.


How is a Cloud Desktop Different from a Hosted Desktop?

Hosted desktops and cloud desktops are similar because they both provide virtualized desktop environments. Here is where they differ:

  • Infrastructure ownership: Hosted desktops (or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)) is usually owned and managed by a third party who takes care of the hardware, networking, and maintenance.
  • The cloud desktop infrastructure refers to a DaaS model in which the infrastructure is provided by a third party cloud provider like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure and the third party manages both the infrastructure and the desktop environment.
  • Scalability: Cloud desktops are typically more flexible compared to hosted desktops because it is easy to scale up or down the number of desktops you need based on your requirements. Hosted desktops may have more limitations based on the hosting provider’s infrastructure.
  • Cost structure: Cost structures can vary between hosted desktops and cloud desktops. Hosted desktops often have more upfront costs to invest in necessary infrastructure and hardware and more ongoing maintenance costs.
  • Cloud desktops, on the other hand, often follow a pay-as-you-go model so you only pay for the number of desktop instances, storage, and usage that you need.

Since cloud desktops use third-party support to handle the infrastructure and management and don’t require any hardware investments, they are often more cost- and time-effective than their hosted counterparts.

By maintaining applications and resources in the cloud rather than on-premises, organizations can offer a better user experience for remote or hybrid staff without compromising data security or breaking the bank.


Learn more about the power of tech in healthcare with these blogs:


What is the Difference Between a Desktop App and a Cloud-Based App?

A similar question we frequently get asked is, “what is the difference between a desktop app and a cloud-based app?”

A cloud-based app is a program that is installed on the remote server and can be delivered over the Internet to the end user in their digital workspace.

A desktop app, on the other hand, runs on a single computer. The primary con noted about cloud-based apps is their dependence on internet connectivity, but that only rarely actually becomes an issue for organizations.


The Benefits of Cloud Desktops for Healthcare Organizations

Cloud desktops hold much promise for the healthcare industry as organizations attempt to adapt their approaches and offerings to global trends and consumer demands.

  1. Flexible: Fluctuating demand is no problem. Practices can easily scale cloud capacity as their needs shift.
  2. Efficient disaster recovery: Where hosted desktops can take up to a few days to recover from an unplanned disruption, cloud desktops offer greater accessibility and much swifter recovery time.
  3. Budget friendly: Most healthcare organizations need reliable, sustainable initiatives that add value to the organization. With their lack of hardware costs, reduced IT support requirements, and minimized capital expenditures, cloud desktops can help put some extra padding back into a strained budget.
  4. Constant: The cloud is always on—no PTO required. Also, most cloud service providers offer 24/7 support for any challenges or questions that users may encounter with virtual machines, again relieving IT burden and delivering a more responsive user experience.
  5. Device agnostic: While hosted desktops require a laptop or desktop to connect, cloud desktops can be run on smartphones, tablets, or any other device.
  6. Collaborative: When staff can operate from a shared hub of resources, tools, and truths, they are better equipped to collaborate closely within and between teams.
  7. Automatic: Rather than waiting for IT to manually push out update and backup reminders, you can enjoy automated maintenance checks, backups, and updates to your systems.
  8. Productivity focused: Productivity has become a huge priority in healthcare in recent years, and having simple, safe, “anywhere access” to critical data and information allows providers to enjoy increased productivity while enjoying increased flexibility.
  9. Secure: The cybersecurity benefits of cloud based desktops are extensive. With secure log-on procedures, protocol encryption, user access control, dedicated company servers, and centralized data management, healthcare organizations are more easily able to maintain essential privacy requirements and meet critical compliance standards.


Did you know…
What is a Cloud Desktop

Source: Healthcare IT Today


What is a Cloud Desktop?: Why Your Practice Needs One

By now, you should have a basic understanding of what a cloud desktop solution is in general terms. Now, let’s explore healthcare-specific reasons to adopt this technology.

  1. Superior patient care: Cloud desktops extend your clinicians’ reach. When they can access a cloud-based EMR and other platforms from anywhere at any time, your patients never have to wait for answers again.
  2. Efficient teamwork: The clinical team no longer has to remain within four walls. With cloud desktops, your staff can communicate with and get advice from the experts they need, right when they need it.
  3. Compliance guaranteed: The security, privacy, and documentation standards intrinsic to cloud desktops allow you to seamlessly meet compliance requirements and stay ahead of changing regulations.
  4. Healthy for clinicians: The flexibility that accompanies remote or hybrid working environments can be transformational for clinician health and wellness.Rather than clocking endless hours in the clinic catching up on charting or waiting to be needed, clinicians can take important breaks, spend their time more wisely, and foster a better work-life balance.
  5. Safeguarded data: With secure operating systems, encrypted connections, and single-sign-on capabilities, your practice and patients can be reassured about the safety of their data and information.
  6. Scalable for seasons or situations: Though we hope to never experience another time like the COVID-19 pandemic, we certainly are more prepared for any major shifts in demand that may come our way. Cloud desktops are easy to scale as user volume changes and simple to adapt for various access levels.
  7. Limited downtime: Downtime can happen when unexpected obstacles or disruptions occur. While in some industries the time offline is inconvenient, in healthcare it can be life or death. Cloud desktops offer essential data backups and dramatically reduce downtime—yielding better care and experiences for patients.


Cloud Desktops for Healthcare—Delivered by Trusted Industry IT Experts

If your organization is dipping its toe into the possibility of different hosting options, our experts can help guide you in the right direction.

With options ranging from fully on-premise to fully cloud-based—and even hybrid solutions—we’ll help you carefully explore the pros and cons of each route.

We’re ready to help. Contact us today.


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