Urgency+Innovation: HITS Strives to Help Remote Workers Stay Connected, Productive, During COVID-19 Crisis

Presented by: Patrick Oates | HITS - PMO & Nipa K. Khatlawala | HITS - Enterprise Technology Services (ETS)


When Governor Whitmer’s first “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order took effect on March 24, 2020, thousands of Michigan Medicine faculty, staff, and students were required – virtually overnight – to begin working and studying off-site. Most had never done so from outside Michigan Medicine facilities, or networks; and many suddenly no longer had access to their institutionally-supplied computers, nor their required applications and files.

Within just a couple of weeks, Health Information Technology and Services (HITS) teams collaborated to quickly develop and deliver two innovative services that were instrumental in bridging those gaps:

  • Remote Desktop Access – Provides authorized users with access to their workplace computer from a home device, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) – enabling them to access their regular desktop configuration, applications, and files.
  • Windows Virtual Desktop – Provides authorized users with access to a streamlined set of tools and services (including MiChart), available using any device, any browser, and without requiring VPN. This service is intended for those who don’t have a Michigan Medicine-supplied “Core” device available for remote work, and for whom Remote Desktop Access is not a practical alternative.

Since April, when both services became available, hundreds of Michigan Medicine faculty and staff have leveraged one of these tools to remain connected, and productive, while working off-site. Looking forward, we expect both services will become essential building blocks of our broader effort to make HITS products and services available to thousands of additional authorized users virtually anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Poster Session

  • Poster Session 3: Thursday


  • Working in crisis mode: impacts & related content

Area(s) of Focus

  • Teaching & Learning
  • Administrative
  • Michigan IT Community