These services require reliable technology for placing real-time physician orders, digitizing healthcare records and granting access to medications, prescriptions, medical histories and complications like allergies, genetic defects and chronic illnesses.
“All of that information has to be available at the point of care,” Dr. Chaudry said. “Having a stable infrastructure and continual access at the bedside at one of our 46 sites in any of the four states that we operate in is mission-critical for the services we offer.”
Embracing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
In 2019, Dr. Chaudry and his colleagues launched an initiative to ensure that everybody in the Children’s Hospital system who needed access to the IT network would have it. They chose a Nutanix virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, which hosts a Citrix presentation layer that streams an operating system and applications from the cloud to users’ personal computers.
“We wanted to build a platform where our end users could consume their virtual desktops anywhere, anytime,” Dr. Chaudry recalled. “The model was simplify, standardize and consolidate.” The system had to be able to scale quickly, running hardware storage in a single plane. The goal: supply VDI to 13,000 users, divided by work shifts.
The Nutanix technology uses hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), which combines virtualization and automation to emulate the operations of a traditional data center. Compute, storage and networking run in virtualized instances on commodity hardware, which improves scalability and reduces total cost of ownership.
“When we embarked on that journey and were building it out, the pandemic hit,” Dr. Chaudry said.
These preparations paid off when Seattle Children’s responded to the COVID-19 threat.
“We were able to scale within 24 hours to about four and a half thousand virtual desktops in real time per shift,” he said. “And I'm pleased to say that in the last 18 months, that virtual desktop infrastructure has consistently delivered 99.998% uptime.”
Services had to be reinvented on the network front end as well.
“We had to restrict the number of visitors by the bedside to one parent,” Dr. Chaudry said in a January 2021 Bloomberg Business podcast. “We deployed iPads at the bedside so that children can talk to their caregivers remotely.”
Digital Transformation Comes to Children’s Hospital
Dr. Chaudry said the caregivers and patients he serves agree on one point: they’re less interested in visiting a hospital or clinic.
“We've had to pivot the process to involve physicians communicating and working with and treating patients remotely using telehealth,” he said during a September 2020 Nutanix .NEXT video conference.
“We've gone from a hundred telehealth visits prior to COVID to 15,000 telehealth visits on a weekly basis during COVID.”
The hospital system’s IT infrastructure shifted to a hybrid cloud model.
“We eliminated our data centers, so we're about 90% private cloud and 10% public cloud,” Dr. Chaudry said. “We use the public cloud to run our research environment as well.”