Healthcare organizations report thousands of hours and millions of dollars saved with SSO and VDI

Dr. Sean Kelly
Mar 29, 2017

As a practicing emergency physician, I’ve seen firsthand how technology impacts patient care. Good technology can speed up care and allow doctors and nurses to focus on what matters most: the patient. But all too often, we encounter barriers when accessing our digital systems. In the name of preserving privacy and security, we’re forced to deal with lengthy login processes that have multiple, complex, everlasting passwords, with applications that are not only prone to timing out, but also take too long to boot up and allow access.

As an ER doctor, I log in to multiple systems hundreds of times per shift. Do you want me focusing on checking contraindications and properly dosing the thrombocytopenia for a patient, when he or she is presented with complete right-sided paralysis from an embolic stroke... or calling the IT help desk to reset my password because I've been locked out of the system due to too many failed login attempts because I failed to notice the "caps lock" button was depressed?

Do you want me ordering type O-negative blood STAT in order to treat massive intra-abdominal hemorrhage from a splenic laceration that a patient sustained driving today... or waiting around for several minutes for my computer to boot and launch a shared Microsoft desktop and Citrix environment before it lets me sign in to my EMR, look up their chart, and order that life-saving blood? 

It is no exaggeration to say that the impact of technology on clinical workflows can be life-saving... or not. 

So why are we still relying on usernames and passwords? Why, when having a single sign-on (SSO) solution, does it have a measurable benefit of giving time back to clinicians? That time saved – which can amount to hours per week – can now be spent with patients, increasing both patient and clinician satisfaction.

SSO, when coupled with virtual desktop access (VDI), not only saves time for a clinician when attempting to log in by replacing passwords, but also when needing to access applications. Their applications and virtual desktops running in the background can be ready for them as soon as they log in. So, with the simple tap of a badge, access is given to the workstation and boots applications the clinician left running. As a physician myself, I can say this is essential, as it avoids interruptions to my thought process and allows me to focus on patient care.

Many healthcare organizations have reported thousands of hours and millions of dollars saved by implementing SSO alone, and even more when coupled with VDI.

Christus Health - In their recent article published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics, Christus Health reported 26,301 hours and $1.6 million in projected savings per year, once all facilities are deployed. Before implementing SSO and VDI, Christus estimated that clinicians were required to recall and refresh anywhere from 8 to 20 passwords. Christus looked at 2256 active users over a seven day period and noticed there were over 65,000 logins to the EHR, to understand the amount of time they spent logging in. After SSO and VDI were deployed, over 1400 hours and a total of $92,146 per year per facility was saved.

Metro Health – After deploying Epic, Metro Health began identifying workflows which could be streamlined to optimize the full investment of their EHR solution. They implemented both VDI and SSO to improve clinician productivity, and said, “In a year, we save 10 to 15 million dollars by having clinicians spend more time at the patient bedside than logging into the system and doing the work that a normal PC delivery would do.”

Johns Hopkins – Johns Hopkins implemented SSO to improve access to clinical applications, while eliminating password confusion and wasted time. Johns Hopkins rolled out SSO to 34,700 users throughout the healthcare system and reported a total time savings of 2,550 man-hours within one month.

South Shore – By replacing a previously installed SSO solution with Imprivata and implementing VDI with a roaming desktop, clinicians were given instant access to their desktops, clinical applications, and patient data with just a tap of their badge, and initial password entry. They saw a reduction in roaming and sign-on time, an increase in user productivity, and improved security. Overall, South Shore realized an overall savings of 583 hours per day, $5.69 million in average annual benefit, and a 695% annual return on investment.

By removing repetitive manual logins, clinicians at these hospitals and health systems – as well as many others – were able to gain back valuable time and use it to focus on patient care. The implementation of SSO improves the care experience for everyone – patients, clinicians, and yes, even the finance department.