About Austin Health

Established in 1882 with the opening of the Hospital for Incurables, Austin Health has been providing a range of quality healthcare services for the past 139 years.

Austin Health is one of Australia’s leading providers of health services. Victorian based, the organisation has a 10,500-stong workforce serving one of the city’s fastest growing areas with a combined population of 350,000. It routinely handles more than 110,000 patient admissions each year.

Challenge

Modern healthcare is heavily reliant on information technology and, over the years, Austin Health has built a complex IT infrastructure that supports all facets of its activities. Everything from patient records and administration to clinical and diagnostic areas rely on a portfolio of applications and supporting hardware.

For more than 10 years, Austin Health had relied on Citrix XenApp 6.5 based on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 as a means of delivering over 150 traditional client/server based applications (and data) to staff. This technology allowed staff to access core applications from a variety of devices without the need for applications to be installed and managed on the workstations. This technology also enabled clinical staff to be able to rapidly log on and swap workstations, allowing all their applications to follow them, with zero productivity loss.

In 2018, a decision was taken to migrate the organisation to Microsoft 365 as part of its digital transformation. It was anticipated this would improve productivity and ensure staff had access to the latest tools.

“As part of this shift, it was also decided to make use of Microsoft Teams to support internal collaboration,” says Alan Pritchard, Director, EMR and ICT Services. “This was seen as a way of making communication more efficient across our facilities.”

Working with long-term technology partner Linktech Australia, the Austin Health IT team evaluated what would be required to support the Microsoft 365 migration. It was quickly determined that the existing Citrix XenApp 6.5 in place would not be suitable, as it was end of life as it didn’t support Microsoft Teams.

“We could see that a migration to a new version of Citrix was necessary,” says Chris Dziura – Austin Health Technical Services. “A decision was taken in late 2018 that this would be the path that we would follow.”

Solution

Once the migration decision had been ratified by senior management in early 2019, the Austin Health IT team and Linktech Australia got to work. A roadmap was formulated that would shift the existing infrastructure from XenApp 6.5 to version Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 1912 which supports Microsoft Teams optimisation.

Dziura says the migration was particularly relevant for Austin Health’s ‘Tap-on, Tap-off’ (TOTO) log-in system used by clinical staff. This had been designed to allow staff to easily move between devices and have access to the applications they required to complete their roles.

“TOTO is reliant on Citrix so that users can interact with applications in the same way they would using a dedicated device,” says Chris Dziura. “The upgrade would mean they could access Microsoft Teams in the same way.”

Linktech Australia designed and deployed a Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop environment based on version 1912. The infrastructure was spread across a virtual data centre that spans across two sites to provide high availability in the event of a single datacentre failure. Microsoft FSLogix was introduced to support Microsoft Teams and other user profile data. Existing machine catalogs were condensed to a total of four and both Server 2016 and Server 2019 were introduced.
The entire environment was federated with Microsoft Azure Active Directory, allowing staff to access the environment using their Azure AD identity inline with Microsoft 365, introducing the ability to perform conditional access invoking Azure Multifactor Authentication, and removing the need for the existing Symantec VIP MFA solution.

The Citrix version migration went smoothly and was completed in February 2020.

Benefits

Once live, the new Citrix infrastructure was quickly providing benefits for users. Rather than having a lengthy log-in process when moving between devices, staff could quickly access the systems they needed. Staff utilising teams via Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops have the same user experience as those using Teams installed on their local Windows 10 devices, including voice and video. There are no performance issues, and staff are able to rapidly jump between devices, resuming exactly where their left off no matter what the application being used.

“The log-in process had been getting longer and longer as our IT infrastructure had aged, and it had become almost unusable,” says Chris Dziura. “However, this has now been significantly improved and we don’t get anyone complaining about log in times anymore. This is not just about better productivity, but also better delivery of services as seconds can make a big difference in a healthcare environment.”

Chris Dziura says the new Citrix infrastructure is now supporting more than 1500 concurrent user sessions each day and more than 5000 user profiles have been created across the organisation.
Logons times have been massively decreased due to the introduction of Microsofts FSLogix profile container technology. Admin staff are finding it significantly easier to monitor and manage sessions thanks to the new single pane management console.

“It’s also reduced the need for our staff to have to remember multiple passwords to log in to multiple systems,” says Chris Dziura. “Thanks to Citrix, the TOTO system now provides single sign on capabilities for staff which greatly simplifies the experience.”

Users can also easily move between terminals. When they tap on in a new location, the sessions they had previously been using instantly appear which make the transition much more efficient.

The Spokesperson says the new Citrix version has also helped remote staff, thanks to a tight integration with Azure Active Directory. Remote staff are now able to use Microsoft Teams in the same way as they would when in the office, allowing IT to apply security policies using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop policies.

“We have been greatly assisted by Linktech’s extensive experience with the Citrix environment,” says Chris Dziura. “This made the entire upgrade process very smooth and has ensured we have been able to achieve the benefits that we envisaged.”

“We look forward to working with Linktech in the future and regard them as a valuable technology partner,” Chris Dziura concludes.