Q: What is context-aware computing, and how might it aid healthcare IT?

A: Many of the technologies we take for granted today have their origins in solving the unique problems found in healthcare IT. If you think about the paths doctors take as they're running between examination rooms on a very limited time schedule, you'll quickly see how their every technology interaction must be highly optimized.

Presentation and desktop virtualization technologies have greatly assisted this process by enabling doctors to disconnect and reconnect to remote sessions without waiting for logins and logoffs. Yet even a highly optimized XenApp or XenDesktop infrastructure can't dynamically reconfigure a doctor's user session at each connection without extra help. Recognizing each new situation and adapting that session's configuration (i.e., running applications, connected printers and devices, and so on) are what context-aware computing solutions add to XenApp and XenDesktop.

Many vendors for these solutions tend to specialize in a specific vertical. The Aventura HQ solution from Aventura, for example, is specifically designed for use in healthcare situations. Other solutions are more generally applicable, such as RES Software's Dynamic Desktop Studio.

Not every environment requires the level of situational relevance that these products enable; however, if your users need to connect from multiple locations throughout the day with location-relevant settings, context-aware computing solutions such as these can greatly improve that user-to-computer interaction.

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