I’ve been using Citrix software for years and more recently I’ve started using GotoMeeting.com for getting together with my clients and employees remotely. GotoMeeting allows unlimited online meetings for up to 10 people at a time for a small monthly fee. It allows me to hook up with my clients and their PCs anytime I want — the clients love the immediate service and we can get multiple parties together at a moment’s notice without installing new software on multiple PCs. Everyone participating in the meeting can share their screens with others in the meeting and multiple people can even control the same PC. It’s really nice. NetMeeting is free and built into modern Windows operating systems and is pretty useful within corporate firewalls but I’ve found GotoMeeting much easier to use and it’s never failed to get through firewalls anywhere I’ve used it.
Another service Citrix offers is called GoToMyPC.com. This software is equally cool but for a different audience: it allows a PC sitting behind a firewall (in a company, for example, or in your home behind a router) to be accessed through any web browser. Your entire PC becomes remotely accessible in a window whenever and wherever you need it. I don’t use GoToMyPC much because I use Windows XP’s built-in Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) but RDC is not firewall-friendly can can’t tunnel through shared ports. RDC is OK, but GoToMyPC is far more useful in more circumstances. Of course, RDC is free but GoToMyPC is not (it has a monthly fee).
So, what does this mean for healthcare/medical professionals? Why should IT department support these kinds of services? Easy — they’re useful, simple, and have very little deployment headaches.
If you have doctors and healthcare providers working at remote facilities or need access to shared computers behind firewalls you can get easy, secure remote access with the Citrix solutions. If you have radiologists who need quick image reading and you don’t want large images to flow through the internet, setup a remote solution like this to allow docs to get to their work computers from home. With GotoMeeting you can have multiple care providers who are consulting on a case see diagnostics, care data, lab images, etc at the same time while talking on the phone (Citrix even provides the conference calling numbers for free).
Docs that have EMRs and clinical documentation available at their offices can now have, using a single click, full access to that clinical information from their home or remote facilities.
The thing to watch out for is that both GotoMeeting and GoToMyPC can allow access to corporate networks without the IT department knowing about it. Users can sign up directly with Citrix without IT knowledge or permission. Unless you have intelligent packet filtering and website blocking turned on, these types of services could already be in use and allowing remote access without you knowing about it. If you learn about it, you can setup policies for it, and manage it better.