Seattle hospital finds zero clients means better care, lower costs

Children's Hospital uses 2,600 zero clients, Citrix XenDesktop, Cisco Unified Computer server for quick access to patient medical data

Seattle Children's Hospital has installed 2,600 zero client devices in four locations, many connected with a wireless LAN that helps doctors and nurses access patient data at the bedside within seconds.

The project launched a year ago hasn't only been helpful to users, said Wes Wright, chief technology officer at Seattle Children's.

The move is also expected to produce some $400,000 in annual savings on power consumption by replacing 70 watt desktop computers with the 7 watt zero clients from Wyse.

"That's absolute savings," Wright said in an interview.

He didn't disclose the cost of upgrading to the zero client devices, however.

Seattle Children's is able to put the Wyse zero clients on carts -- called Computers on Wheels -- for use in patient rooms and elsewhere where medical personnel can consult a person's health history by connecting to a database over the center's wireless LAN, Wright said.

Clinicians have been positive about the change, he said.

"They can walk into a patient's room and within seconds access all their information -- it's much more efficient and provides more time for patient and provider information," Wright said.

Seattle Children's also uses Cisco's Unified Computing System, whose server has been able to provide a "massive amount of storage RAM," Wright said.

"It's been a super solid platform, and there's not been a single hardware failure," he said.

Citrix XenDesktop is hosted on the UCS to consolidate data and applications in the data center. The center supports remote connections to a range of user devices and is currently in a beta test of Cisco's Cius tablet.

The entire upgrade was not simple, however, Wright said.

"It takes a lot of pre work to get it right," he said. "You can't just buy the software and stand up and make it go. There was a lot of workflow needed before the virtual desktop [was implemented]. Thankfully, we still need people for these projects."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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