In recent years, Aomori Prefectural Central Hospital has pushed forward organizational reforms and reorganized wards, establishing treatment centers for each of four major illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. “In order to provide the best treatment and care for patients’ illnesses, we have a policy in which doctors and technicians from a number of departments, not just the department of treatment, come together to decide the best methods for treatment,” says Shigeaki Yoshida, Director General of the hospital.
In order to support such advanced medical services, the hospital actively engages with IT. However, a number of problems surrounding the hospital’s internal IT environment had surfaced in recent years.
First, there had been a shortage of PCs for electronic medical records. Because the PCs at nurse stations were shared, staff had to queue to use them in the evening and other busy periods. “Because of the waiting, work got held up and our operating efficiency deteriorated. Staff worked overtime, which led to an increase in personnel costs, so we had to work out a solution promptly,” explains the hospital’s Shigeaki Murakami.
The second problem was the way that servers were dispersed. Because each individual medical department had a variety of systems, servers were scattered throughout the hospital. In addition to putting pressure on limited space resources, it was difficult for the Medical Information Department to ascertain the type of IT resources used within the hospital, and where they were located. “When trouble arose we would contact the Medical Information Department. However, because of the on-site nature of day-to-day operations, it would take a lot of time to determine the cause of the problem. We felt that we had to reduce waste and also make improvements to governance,” says the hospital’s Hiroki Miura.
Consequently, it was virtualization technology that caught the eye of the hospital.
The hospital consulted with the company in charge of the project, NEC, used VMware® Horizon ViewTM to construct a VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) to virtualize its desktops, and then distributed tablets to each member of the nursing staff. As a result, it became possible to access electronic medical records at any time, without the need to wait. “Tablets have a superior cost-performance ratio over PCs, and don’t take up any space. We decided that providing a device for each staff member was the best method to increase operational efficiency at the optimum cost,” explains NEC’s Junichi Ono.
Due to improved integration rates and operating stability, the hospital decided to adopt VMware vSphere® to consolidate the servers dispersed in each department in the virtualized environment. “The Medical Information Department wanted to manage server resources centrally and migrate to a system which provided resources to each department as they were needed,” says Miura.
Although the hospital decided to migrate from a physical environment to a virtual one in this manner, a problem still remained–security.
The hospital was worried that the scope of damage that resulted from an occurrence of an incident would be wider in a virtual environment in which a single server was running a number of virtual machines than in a physical environment. Furthermore, from the perspective of safe treatment, medical institutions such as hospitals demand advanced security countermeasures.
The hospital adopted Trend Micro™ Deep Security™. In addition to the proven track record of Trent Micro as a security vendor, the fact that Deep Security is optimized for VDIs also supported the adoption.
Traditional antivirus solutions can easily cause a degradation in the performance of VDIs. If an agent is installed in each virtual PC, the processing load on servers will increase when distributing pattern files and performing virus scans. “We were worried about performance because the VDI combined tablets and wireless LANs. If response times were slow and it wasn't easy to use, the benefits of the deployment would be reduced by half,” reflects Murakami.
However, Deep Security coordinates with VMware vShield Endpoint, the security optimizer of the hospital’s VDI platform VMware vSphere, and the virtual appliance protection modules of Deep Security provide antivirus protection for each virtual PC. This controls sudden increases on server load, and maintains the appropriate responsiveness for the VDI.
"Information sharing and transparency is essential for the pursuit of quality health care services. I believe that this deployment has taken a major step towards achieving that."
Aomori Prefectural Central Hospital
Additionally, in regards to the hospital’s aim to consolidate department servers, Deep Security supported the adoption due to its compatibility with multiple types of server OS, including Windows and Linux. After evaluating these benefits, Aomori Prefectural Central Hospital decided to apply Deep Security to the entirety of its virtualized environment.