A piece of equipment the size of a computer external hard drive allows doctors nurses and other clinical staff at Student Health Service to quickly and efficiently treat more students. Called a thin client, this equipment allows users with a special smart card to not only speed up access to health records, but also keep them more secure.
“If we save 8-10 minutes per student, we can treat more of them,” Darren Aaron, associate director of Student Health Service said. “That’s especially important during flu season when we have a wave of students needing attention.”
Student Health Service uses thin clients to connect all 11 exam rooms and administration areas of the center to servers off-site. Although thin clients look like external hard drives, they have no moving parts to wear out. So these affordable units are expected to last about 10 years.
Information System’s Paul Whitener says thin clients are set up to redirect and provide a secure portal to back-end servers. With no operating system, programs or other hardware or software, thin clients do not store patient data or medical records, making them secure.
“Even if someone took one out of an exam room and plugged it into the Internet, there would be no data on the thin client,” Whitener said. “Without a smart card and the password, there is no way for that person to access our medical records.”
Whitener says using thin clients this way was also new to the university’s electronic medical records vendor, which helped the University switch to the new system in Fall 2011. He says the company is using Wake Forest as a model for its other clients.
“We’re more efficient and able to see more students by shortening the cycle time — the time from check-in to checkout,” says Aaron. “We’re not having to log in and out on multiple laptops, multiple times. Now we just insert a smart card, enter a password and the student’s records can securely follow us from the exam room to the lab to x-ray — all over the clinic.”