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Case Studies: Capital Cardiology Associates

Company Profile: Capital Cardiology Associates, PC maintains a state-of-the-art medical facility in Albany, New York that provides a full range of diagnostic, interventional, therapeutic and preventive services in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The physician staff of Capital Cardiology Associates, PC includes twenty-one board-certified cardiologists as well as four clinical nutrition physicians. The group is supported by a full-time staff of more than eighty employees, including physicians assistants, nurses, medical assistants, certified technologists, dietitians, exercise physiologists, office and support staff.

The problem: Capital Cardiology Associates, PC needed a technology system that could handle and facilitate the expansion it has experienced over the last 5 years. They wanted a system that would: capture, save and secure patient information; enable them to use the Internet as their open source platform for office technology; take into account plans for future expansion of their medical practice. Of course, cost savings, security, ease of use and reliability were important considerations in the plan design.

The solution: Lille Corp introduced thin client diskless Linux workstations. Really a fusion of the ‘thin’ client concept and the Linux operating system, Linux was selected for its reliability and because it is not susceptible to the viruses and worms that plague the Microsoft operating system platform. Capital Cardiology Associates, PC, described its old desktop environment as "bloated," meaning an application that is overloaded with underutilized or unnecessary functionality and which tends to slow down the actual performance of the application or the performance of the end-user. The open-source culture produces productive, benefit rich solutions without this type of “feature bloat.”

Open source applications are not a silver bullet, so each application must be carefully evaluated and tested. First we had to choose the appropriate desktop environment. Unlike Microsoft Windows, where there is really only one desktop look and feel, X Windows--the windowing engine under Linux--provides for a multitude of Windows managers. Each manager has a different set of benefits and features. We decided upon ICEWM--a simple, clean desktop, with no icons cluttering the screen and a pop up menu with just the applications Capital Cardiology Associates, PC wants each user to have access to.

The applications we chose were:

  • Evolution by Ximian Corporation for basic email and task management.
  • OpenOffice again helped with the transition from MS Office with little learning curve.
  • SquirrelMail with the calendar plugin for web-based email and shared calendaring.
  • Mozilla for Internet browsing.
  • LDAP for address books and user settings
  • RDesktop to access to a MS Terminal Server for applications that absolutely must run on MS Windows
Since Capital Cardiology Associates, PC is geographically dispersed, we setup VPNs between remote sites. Each site has a remote headless--no monitor or keyboard--server to handle process load for the remote site, and each remote server syncs with a designated central server for occasional updates. For production we use IBM xSeries 205 servers outfitted with remote server adapters for total remote control (even power on/off).

The results: The result is that Capital Cardiology Associates, PC has a thin client desktop environment that delivers exactly what the enterprise needs to operate at maximum efficiency in a stable and secure environment. They don't have to be concerned with workstation maintenance and support, and they won’t ever have to worry about forced operating system upgrades or license compliance.

Dr. Martin Echt, cardiologist and CEO of Capital Cardiology Associates, PC, says, “We selected Lille since it was the only local company with the proven expertise. Lille in turned brought in additional out-of-area engineers for this project. Our billing and practice management software works better, very stable. Feedback {is} very positive.”

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