To enable swifter user log-ins, workstation user switching, and desktop roaming, ITHealth introduced FLOW – a solution that brings together four key components: Storage & Server (Blade & SAN was used originally in this case, but this was latterly replaced with Pivot 3 for scalability), Single Sign-On (SSO) technology, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and Spine persistence software (Isosec). All of these technologies can be integrated to work with the NHS Smartcard.
Imprivata OneSign technology was used for the SSO element. It offers a single point of authentication that allows easy access to multiple applications and key patient data – negating the need to enter individual log-in credentials for each application wanting to be accessed. Reduced log-in requirements clearly saves valuable time; it also eliminates any password management issues for both users and the IT helpdesk, thus keeping systems and patient data more secure.
The VDI used VMWare technologies (although Citrix/RDS can also be used). VMWare allows end-user desktops to be hosted on a virtual machine (VM) running on a centralised server (e.g. Pivot 3). Used in conjunction with session persistence software (such as Isosec), it means that when a clinician logs off one workstation, their desktop and Spine applications can be suspended and preserved until they log on to another at which point their desktop and applications can be re-launched just as they had left them. Their desktop basically follows them as they move from location to location throughout the department. Again, it saves the clinician vital time as they don’t need to re-open applications to continue working on a new workstation.
FLOW works in conjunction with the NHS Smartcard and the cyclical process is as follows:
- Smartcard is inserted into any configured Windows based device and the user PIN is entered.
- Single sign-on technology confirms user credentials and logs the user into their workstation.
- Clinician is rapidly presented with their ‘hot’ virtual desktop.
- The clinician continues their session using Spine patient applications, such as Lorenzo.
- A user removes their Smartcard when they wish to switch workstation – their virtual desktop is suspended.
- Session Persistence software on the virtual desktop ensures any open Spine enabled applications are kept open until the user next logs-on.
Each time the clinician logs-on, the same process is performed offering a streamlined workflow, rapidly allowing the clinician to continue working exactly where they had left off. The result is vital time savings.