The South Australia Department of Health (SA Health) is responsible for delivering comprehensive healthcare options to the state’s 1.6 million residents. To support this work, the department’s ICT Services division adopted the Windows 7 operating system. SA Health tested several new features of Windows 7 including BitLocker drive encryption technology, Fast User Switching, and DirectAccess. After the pilot program is complete, SA Health expects to introduce enhanced security, substantial time savings, and increased productivity.
The South Australia Department of Health (SA Health) is the largest governmental agency in South Australia, providing support to hospitals and healthcare providers across the state. SA Health is committed to generating positive health outcomes by focusing on health promotion, illness prevention, and early intervention.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) Services is one of the 10 divisions that make up SA Health. “We’re responsible for supporting the entire fleet of desktop and portable computers throughout the organization,” explains Matthew Coghlan, Fleet Desktop Group Manager, ICT Services, for SA Health. “Currently, that means about 22,000 workstations across 600 sites, plus an increasing number of portable computers that connect to our network remotely.” The organization’s infrastructure also includes the Windows Server 2003 operating system (soon to be upgraded to Windows Server 2008) and the Windows XP operating system.
SA Health needed a technology solution that would help enhance security and reduce ICT support costs.
Healthcare providers in South Australia treat 4,312 individuals in hospital outpatient clinics, provide critical care to 1,445 people in emergency departments, and admit 1,070 patients to public hospitals each day. “Clinics, emergency departments, and hospitals can be quite busy with multiple users trying to access a single workstation. The Health Department has evaluated new desktop operating systems to help mitigate security risks,” Coghlan explains. “With our current security policy, users may need to turn off and restart a machine in order to switch user accounts—if the machine was locked by another user—which can take as long as five minutes. The ability for multiple users to quickly and easily access a single workstation is a crucial business driver for SA Health.”
In February 2009, SA Health adopted the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. SA Health could
||The Health Department has evaluated new desktop operating systems to help mitigate security risks.
Fleet Desktop Group Manager, ICT Services,
South Australia Department of Health
use BitLocker drive encryption to help protect data on all computers but especially on portable computers. The Fast User Switching feature will benefit users to switch between different accounts on a single machine without exiting programs or logging off from the current session.
To test these features, ICT Services worked with Microsoft partner Adexis and Microsoft Services for the pilot program and eventual deployment.
SA Health began the pilot by testing Windows 7 on 50 workstations in an isolated, nonproduction environment. The first phase of the pilot included 120 users testing the Windows 7 standard operating environment on 18 different models of desktop and portable computers. ICT Services used the beta version of the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 to build the standard operating environment configuration.
ICT Services also used the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.5 to gather Windows 7 compatibility information from production workstations. Then, it used the Application Compatibility Toolkit database and user interface to track progress during the testing and remediation of applications.
“We needed to be certain that the organization’s clinical management system and other existing applications would work on the Windows 7 SOE [standard operating environment],” explains Coghlan. “So far, the results have been encouraging. Even though we’re running the pilot in an isolated environment, we’re comfortable that all of the business-critical applications work on Windows 7 with little or no remediation.”
In addition to application compatibility, ICT Services have found Windows 7 supports a large range of drivers. “With the advanced deployment tools in Windows 7, we can import and inject drivers into the build process very quickly,” says Coghlan.
Following the pilot program, SA Health deployed 200 additional seats. Then, as part of the department’s four-year replacement cycle for workstations, ICT Services plans to use Microsoft
||With the advanced deployment tools in Windows 7, we can import and inject drivers into the build process very quickly.
Fleet Desktop Group Manager, ICT Services, SA Health
System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2 to deploy Windows 7 on an average of 5,000 machines a year up to a total of 22,000 seats.
SA Health anticipates that using Windows 7 features, such as BitLocker, DirectAccess, and Fast User Switching, will help the organization enhance security, improve time savings, and increase productivity.
ICT Services intends to deploy BitLocker for portable computers and BitLocker To Go for removable storage drives. “With Windows 7, we know that confidential data on BitLocker-protected devices is encrypted,” says Coghlan. “Not only is this extremely important to healthcare providers and patients, it also must meet ICT requirements.”
Time Savings, Increased Productivity
In the test environment, users are able to rapidly switch between accounts. “The Fast User Switching feature in Windows 7 is very promising,” Coghlan says. “Now users can switch between accounts in less than 30 seconds, whereas before it took up to 5 minutes, especially if the computer was locked by another user and had to be restarted.” ICT Services also anticipates that using DirectAccess rather than a virtual private networking (VPN) solution will provide a more reliable service.
For more information about Windows 7, go to:
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about Adexis products and services, call (61) 8 8361 7477 or visit the Web site at:
For more information about South Australia Department of Health products and services, call (61) 8 8226-6000 or visit the Web site at: