Intel vPro Keeps Hospital Infrastructure Alive and Kicking

Intel's technology helped Northwest Newborn Specialists take steps toward increased security and less downtime.

Northwest Newborn Specialists had a big problem. Downtime was a significant drag not only on the groups technology infrastructure, which is spread out among four hospitals in Oregon and Washington, but also, most importantly, on the neonatologists caring for infant patients.

"Our physicians can be impatient, and with good reason," said Carolyn Kraus, the NW Newborn IT specialist tasked with keeping the groups infrastructure online. "Theyre here 24/7, and were not. Its crucial that the computers are up and running."

Kraus, along with One Tech, a solution provider in Hillsboro, Ore., piloted a program that included Intel vPro PCs in May and discovered that remotely managing and securing machines saved time, money and stress, she said.

Intels vPro solutions consist of four main elements: a Core 2 Duo or Centrino Pro processor, an Intel network connection, Intel firmware, and an Intel chip set enabled with ATM (Active Management Technology), according to Intel. The solutions offer proactive, hardware-based security features that can scan network traffic for intrusion and software attacks, provide automated updates and patch installation, and isolate infected computers from the network to prevent a virus or worm from spreading, according to Intel.

Hardware-based remote management technology enables IT personnel to diagnose and repair PC problems remotely and to perform tedious manual hardware and software inventories without leaving their home office, Intel said. AMT allows these functions to take place even when a users PC is turned off.

"We can remotely power on a PC, power-reset a system to a clean slate, and get a hardware inventory or event log anytime," Kraus said. "I can diagnose and resolve problems without leaving my desk, even if the OS or a hard drive is down."

She said that although shes sure the vPro technology is saving NW Newborn money, most of the savings shes seeing are in efficiency.

"Most of the savings have been [in] time," Kraus said. Before the vPro technology was installed, she said, driving to one of the network hospitals sometimes took more than an hour, not to mention the time spent diagnosing and then resolving a problem. Now, she said, remote access and management results in about 95 percent improvement in task time.

Security and compliance are also seeing improvements, Kraus said. The ability to quickly diagnose, access and close off a security vulnerability used to take days, leaving the hospitals open to attack; now, she said, patching can often be completed in an hour.

"This is letting us meet more stringent HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] requirements and minimize liabilities for our physicians," Kraus said.

While the vPro technology has been in place for only a few months, Kraus is already planning for future hardware upgrades. "Going forward, were going to propose that all our new machines be vPro machines," she said.


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on health care.