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How Hospitals Can Benefit from Hosted Desktops, Part 1

Hosted desktops are Windows desktop operating systems that you access via the Internet. They are deployed and maintained on the servers of an IT hosting company, and you pay the hosting company a fixed, monthly, per-user fee for them.

Hosted desktops are the same as locally-installed Windows desktop operating systems, so they have the familiar Windows interface (most hosting companies offer Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 hosted desktops) and can run any Windows-compatible application. In addition, each hosted desktop will be assigned to a specific user, and will retain that specific user’s applications, files, and setting even after he or she logs out.

Here are some of the most important reasons why hospitals should sign up for hosted desktops:

Hosted desktops can decrease your costs

All businesses want to minimize their costs, of course, but hospitals (like all healthcare organizations) are under particular pressure from consumers and government regulators to reduce their costs due to the widespread perception that healthcare in the United States is overly expensive (or, rather, that too much money is spent on it as a percentage of GDP).

Hosted desktops can reduce hospitals’ IT hardware, IT personnel, and energy costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Hosted desktops don’t require the purchase of any expensive onsite IT hardware or the hiring of any additional IT personnel. They can be accessed from low-cost, low-maintenance, energy-efficient devices such as thin clients, budget tablets and netbooks, and old and refurbished PCs.

IT hosting companies are able to provide you with hosted desktops for less than it would cost you to deploy virtual desktops yourself, meanwhile, because the IT hosting/cloud computing model is inherently more cost-efficient than in-house IT; and because IT hosting companies specialize in providing IT solutions such as hosted desktops, so they know how to deploy, manage, and maintain hosted desktops in the most cost-efficient way.

Hosted desktops are secure

Hospitals are required by HIPAA (not to mention the consciences and profit motives of their employees) to protect their patient’s sensitive data from inappropriate access and deletion.

They’re vulnerable to the physical theft of IT hardware, since hospital employees often ­­­­­­­­­­have more important things to focus on than keeping an eye on computing equipment, and because hospitals are relatively open, insecure environments, with lots of non-employees going in and out of them at all times. Hospitals that utilize hosted desktops don’t have to worry about the physical theft of local IT hardware resulting in security breaches or data loss, since hosted desktops don’t store any data on the local hardware.

When a user accesses his or her hosted desktop, the only data that is sent from the IT hosting provider’s server to his or her device is the video and audio output of the desktop. All of the files and other data of the hosted desktop remain on the hosting company’s servers by default unless deliberately transferred to the local device (which you can request the hosting company to prevent users from being able to do). Hosting companies usually protect their servers and hosted solutions with advanced security measures such as enterprise-level firewalls, gateway antivirus, patch management, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and 24/7/365 security monitoring.

In 2016, several hospitals were infected with encrypting ransomware, which significantly disrupted the hospitals’ operations in some cases and forced some of them to pay ransoms of $17,000 and up. Utilizing hosted desktops may have helped these hospitals to protect themselves from ransomware or at least have helped to mitigate the effects of an infection, since hosted desktops are highly secure, are easier to isolate and disinfect when they’ve been compromised, and are automatically backed up the hosting company (restoring from unencrypted backups is usually the only way to get back your files back when an encrypting ransomware infection occurs besides paying the ransom).

Learn how hosted desktops can help hospitals increase the manageability and reliability of their IT and allow their employees to securely access their files and applications from anywhere with any device in the second and concluding part of the article.