DOD aims to send health records via any device, to any user

Early success builds momentum for virtual desktop

The military’s interest in virtualization tools for health care personnel originated well before the Defense Department began to lay the foundation for the Chicago and Washington Capitol super hospitals.

An early example was at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va. In 2006, Acelera, a firm specializing in virtualization tools, was contracted by the hospital to solve problems that in-house doctors and shipboard clinicians had when trying to access AHLTA, DOD's electronic health records system.


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The challenges experienced by the doctors at Portsmouth were not unique to AHLTA. Joe Brown, president of Accelera Solutions, said powerful desktops are necessary because medical programs perform lots of tasks and often have high-resolution graphics, which make it difficult to refresh data quickly.

“The overhead is massive,” he said.

Because of the success of the Portsmouth effort, the virtual desktop capability is being implemented across the Military Health System. The near-term goal is to deliver virtual clinical applications to all doctors in MHS through a DOD-based cloud architecture.

Brown noted that in the future, DOD wants to use virtual desktops as a method for delivering applications. The ultimate goal is to supply clinical applications from thin-client desktop PCs to any device, such as iPads, laptops or other handheld devices, and make those applications available anywhere users are — in a hospital, aboard ship or on the battlefield.

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