Client virtualization allows healthcare workers — and many other industries — the freedom to operate effectively and securely from anywhere.

Consider what’s happening in the healthcare industry as hospitals transition from paper-based records management to electronic or digital records. Healthcare facilities have untethered physicians, nurses and other care workers from fixed workstations by allowing them to access data from their mobile devices in a secure environment. Before that transition, when nurses interacted with patients and needed to access or input data, they rolled around carts or workstations on wheels (WOWs), along with their huge monitors and power supplies. To say the least, the carts represented an arduous and tiring experience.

Today, employees, customers, patients — you name it — all want access to data on the go, from their smartphones or tablet devices. What’s more, they want a similar digital experience across all platforms, from the desktop, notebook, tablet, down to the smartphone. All of that has affected the way organizations interact with client virtualization, which originally abstracted applications and operating systems from client hardware and stored those resources on central servers before delivering them to desktop PCs.

How Far We’ve Come

Application virtualization now allows users to access applications from more mobile devices — smartphones, tablets and notebooks — eliminating the need for organizations to write and maintain mobile apps. But the wealth of data available on the average smartphone and tablet today — think apps, calendars, email, photos, videos, audio notes — means organizations need a way to properly manage and secure work-related content that is being pushed to, or accessed by, employees. Organizations should look to empower their workforce to interact with the data on devices they are comfortable with; if not, those employees undoubtedly will find unsecure ways to do it.

Meeting the Need

Back in the hospital, we see that nurses have moved to mobile devices. But many have device and application fatigue. Nurses regularly use pagers, phones and desktops, and interact or work with applications on all of those platforms. One of the challenges our CDW solutions architects now face is how to get all of the content from a Windows-based PC onto a mobile device. CDW looked at consolidating the functionality of each of those devices onto iPad tablet devices using Citrix and VMware virtualization technology and Workspace Suites, which come with integrated mobile device management (MDM) and security functions.

Beyond nurses, we also hear more doctors asking to access data on their own mobile devices. They want to bring work home — for instance, the ability to check out X-rays on a tablet or notebook while maintaining data confidentiality and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. Many large hospitals today actively recruit experienced doctors and care providers thanks to their mobile workspace offerings.

Keeping It Going

Coupled with MDM, client virtualization is the path many organizations are choosing to address the myriad management and security challenges inherent to providing mobile work opportunities. Citrix and VMware solutions offer the ability to virtualize applications and run them on smaller devices. When healthcare providers interact with a virtualized application using Citrix or VMware, nothing is actually cached on the mobile device. These applications register a user’s touches and save data on a back-end server, ensuring users can access apps on any device while maintaining critical security.

Employees and providers who use their personal devices at work are no longer an issue for IT administrators, who manage only the applications they’ve pushed onto a device, not an employee’s children’s soccer game photos or personal text messages. When an authorized user enrolls with MDM, it containerizes email and any type of apps the organization has licensed or allowed. In case any device is lost or stolen, the organization can only erase the content that IT is authorized to manage on the device.

Today’s mobile workspace touches so many different areas of work and life. Security is a core component to ensuring a successful mobile work environment, and MDM, in turn, represents an essential part of the security puzzle. Once secure, the mobile workspace experience can be enhanced via virtual applications delivered to people no matter what device they are on.

For the latest in mobility trends, check out BizTech Magazine to stay on the cutting edge.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below with any questions.