Making adjustments to virtual servers rather than physical saved BID $300,000 late in the project, when eClinicalWorks added more muscle to its SSL encryption and put an unacceptable strain on the existing servers. Gillis spent about $20,000 on hardware upgrades and additional VMware licenses, rather than the $325,000 he would have had to spend for new servers in a purely physical server cluster.
It also makes capacity planning a lot easier because it's possible to swap out servers or storage or increase capacity to match seasonal spikes without, essentially, even telling the applications it's happening, he says.
Because of the need for security, privacy, access to data in exam rooms and support for increasingly technical medical-support systems, healthcare has been in the forefront of virtualization for years, according to Jack Santos, executive strategist for consultancy The Burton Group, a former CIO for two hospitals and senior IT executive for insurers and other healthcare companies.
"Hospitals automated the backoffice years ago, but then they kind of slowed up," Santos says. "They're way behind the curve in automation at the healthcare level. Running EHR on virtual servers is good if there's an access issue, but it's not a leading-edge kind of thing. You can do most of that with Citrix, and you can hardly walk into a practice that doesn't have a Wyse or other kind of terminal and has everything remoted to it."
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