Iroquois Healthcare Association easily enables staff to work remotely with Chrome OS
Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Eileen Murphy, Senior Director of Special Projects, and Andrew Nault, Director of Business Development, both from Iroquois Healthcare Association Workforce Investment Organization (IHA WIO). The health association represents 44 hospitals in 32 counties in New York State, providing advocacy, cost-saving initiatives, and business solutions. IHA WIO has provided its participating long-term care organizations with more than 5,000 Chromebooks to support 80 organizations in several ways, including training staff, connecting nursing home residents to their families, and helping administrative staff work safely from home.
Since early 2020, clinicians and staff at IHA WIO participant organizations have had to adapt to constant change—everything from implementing pandemic safety protocols to helping nursing-home residents stay in touch with families. We’re proud of the wonderful work they’ve done and continue to do.
During the pandemic, our use of Chrome OS and Chrome devices was expanded and changed to meet the needs of organizations dealing with an unprecedented event. Chrome devices were used to not only train staff but to enable remote work, as well as to connect residents to their friends and families during long periods of isolation. In the morning, a Chromebook could be in a managed guest session mode, helping a grandmother virtually attend her grandkids’ birthday party; at lunch, a nursing assistant could log in to her latest continuing education classes on that same Chromebook.
That evening, the Chrome OS devices could be found at check-in desks, helping visitors fill out a COVID-19 survey. All it took to change a device’s purpose were a few clicks in the Google Admin console, all of which could be done remotely.
Chrome OS for training
Most of our 5,000 Chrome OS devices came from a New York State grant to provide continued education training for long-term care organizations and its employees. We wanted to offer online classes, which meant we’d have to give people the technology to access that training. Our partner, CDW, recommended Chrome OS for us because it’s an operating system built for the cloud. In addition, devices running Chrome OS are easy to use, easily shared, and cost-effective.
Best of all, Chromebook Enterprise came with all the enterprise capabilities of Chrome OS unlocked. This allowed us to use the Google Admin console to manage our entire Chromebook Enterprise fleet remotely. We were able to set up one high-level organizational unit across IHA, with almost 80 organizational units for facilities and groups.
To support training, Lenovo helped us create a five-minute video that we added to our HealthStream learning platform so staff could learn the basics of using Chromebooks. This video was created because we didn’t realize there were people who have never touched a laptop before. The video and Chrome OS ease of use made it possible to get the folks who needed the most help up to speed quickly.
Chrome OS for connecting residents to loved ones
Once the pandemic began and people could no longer visit nursing home residents, the staff for one of our facilities asked about using a training Chromebook for video calls between residents and families. We loved this idea as it was still in line with our mission: to enable the workforce to provide higher-quality care.
With the Admin console, the process was easy. We changed the managed guest session to auto load, and changed what is populated on startup. With help from healthcare staff, residents were able to choose from several video apps including Google Meet, Zoom, and Facebook.
Chrome OS for remote workers
When office and administrative staff had to work remotely, Chromebooks again came to the rescue. Since staff could access all their work applications via Citrix—like Outlook, office phone systems, and other public documents—we placed the remote-work laptops in managed guest session mode and loaded the Citrix app at startup. All the employees had to do was connect to Wi-Fi and log into Citrix, and they were ready to work.
With our training program still running and virtual remote ability on the rise, we realized we would need more Chromebooks. CDW informed us that Chrome OS device supply was running low, but they located 1,000 Chromebooks for us and sent them to our home office in Clifton Park, New York.
Normally, the job of configuring and shipping 1,000 laptops would strike fear into the hearts of the IT team. Not this time: With zero-touch enrollment, all of the Chromebooks were enrolled in our high-level organizational unit before the boxes arrived at our Clifton Park office. We created a list of Chromebook serial numbers for each IHA location getting a shipment, then packed up the boxes. We never had to open a Chromebook box, or even turn the devices on before preparing them for use by employees.
Chrome OS for telehealth and clinic kiosks
There were more Chromebook transformations to come. In the interest of keeping residents and medical professionals safe, we enabled Chromebooks for non-urgent telehealth sessions. Doctors and nurses could see and talk to nursing home residents, using the same video conferencing apps that residents used to talk to loved ones. In these cases, we had PointClickCare, our electronic medical records app, loaded at startup on doctors’ Chromebooks.
We even turned a few Chromebooks into guest kiosks at IHA member hospitals that have walk-in clinics. If the clinics required visitors to fill out a COVID-19 screening form, the Chromebook, in kiosk mode, was stationed at the front desk. Once visitors submitted the form, a new blank form appeared, ready for the next visitor without any data stored on the device.
Chrome OS for whatever’s needed next
What’s amazing is that we could help people in all these different ways in just a few minutes—without visiting a nursing home, getting someone to ship laptops back to us, or loading software. Chromebooks are so versatile that sometimes they’re used in various modes several times a day. One user can log in, while another user can use managed guest sessions to login as a guest user. No matter what changes come to our healthcare association in the future, we’ll be ready.