Mark WattsPart 2

Sphere 3D Guest Blog, by Mark Watts, VP Healthcare Solutions Innovations at Novarad

In part I of this blog I discussed how the partnership with Sphere 3D helped transform Novarad’s business.  Now let us see what that means for clinicians.

Everyone in IT laments about “silos,” but what does that really mean?  Well, here is what a clinician sees when he or she wants information about a patient.  In the hospital, the clinician may need to see 2, 3, 4 or even more screens to get all the information they need about a certain patient.  God forbid, if the clinician should drive out to a branch location, be in his or her own office, a surgery center, or takes an emergency call at home in the middle of the night.  In these distributed locations, where – I would note – most of health care today is delivered, the clinician may only be able to access some portion (or none) of the patient’s medical record.


The reason for this “silo-ing” of information is that many health care applications are stuck in centralized locations, usually at the hospital or in large regional outpatient offices. There are many reasons for this, but primarily today’s solutions for virtualization are just not capable of delivering compatibility.

I literally mean they just will not work on a server they way they did on a PC or workstation.

For this and many other applications, today’s approach simply does not provide the significant financial model that would justify moving them…think of it this way, how do you rationalize only running 20 copies of a specific application on a $100,000 server, especially if you need to provide access to thousands of staff? Thus, many applications are only run on their original hardware (usually workstations), in a specific location. So, while practitioners are trying to get a holistic view of a patient, the farther they get from the hospital, they are less likely to have access to needed information.

Screen Shot any location - any deviceBecause Sphere 3D has provided us technologies such as Glassware 2.0 that deal with a much larger set of applications and deliver more copies of them from a single server, we can now take a much larger set of important healthcare applications and deliver them virtually to one device.  An interesting side effect of virtualization is that the clinician is able to eliminate the hardware lock-in they historically have had to deal with.  Clinicians can view apps from a tablet (We’ll show you an example of an app delivered to the iPad later in this blog), a 4 monitor display, anything.  In addition, the clinician is no longer tethered to any one location.  The technology does not restrict accessing the medical record outside the hospital, though I will add the caveat that the hospital’s own privacy and security protocols may restrict access. 

Here is an example of NovaGlass in action.  Here we have an iPad in Scottsdale running a Sphere 3D V3 virtual desktop.  Most users want the desktop so they can keep their custom workspace.  We are most interested in the Syntermed app which features the Emory Tool Kit, – the gold standard in cardiac evaluation.  Syntermed is a difficult app to virtualize because it provides 3D moving graphics.  We use Sphere 3D’s Glassware 2.0 to containerize Syntermed and deliver it as an icon on the virtual desktop.  The V3 and Glassware 2.0 servers are located in Georgia.

Clicking on the Horizon icon in the first screen opens up the login screen for the virtual desktop.


This screen is pretty cool.  V3 lets you use touch commands to mimic mouse motions once you log in to the virtual desktop.

Clicking on the Syntermed icon opens the app.


I’d note that Syntermed is delivered via Glassware 2.0.  We like to use Glassware 2.0 to deliver expensive apps (low user density per server) or apps that require special hardware like GPU or apps that just don’t virtualize.  Here are some examples of the screens available to the user once they are in Syntermed.  You might be able to see that some are 3D, rotatable videos.  It’s not tricorders yet but still pretty cool!






There’s another example of a pretty neat use case we have seen.  Many doctors and nurses – who are extremely conscientious and hardworking people – will gather on a monthly or bimonthly basis, on their own time, to convene what is referred to as a tumor board.  They look at the relevant portions of the medical record of a patient to share how a diagnosis was made, and to determine the outcome.  By sharing this information in an interdisciplinary way, the clinicians hope to provide better care the next time should another patient be in a similar situation.  The tumor board members may consist of pathologists, radiologists, surgeons, oncologists and nurses. 

We can provide a one-screen view through NovaGlass.  Most tumor board meetings are low-tech affairs because the technology does not integrate and a single pane of glass has been nothing more than wishfully thinking until now.  The pathology image may be a slide shown on an overhead projector, the picture of the tumor and x ray a hard copy film passed around, and the three dimensional scan\video on a laptop passed around the room (of course, don’t forget that the video took an hour to download from the PACS system to the clinician’s personal laptop).  Perhaps the free donuts and coffee are worth the 30-minute drive on a Saturday afternoon to attend the tumor board.  Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the clinicians could review the tumor board virtually, at their convenience and at the time and place of their choosing? This is the vision of NovaGlass: putting all the information you need on one screen so we can help our clinicians help our patients. 

In part III, I will discuss what this means for the CIO and the IT department.