Redefining the Way Local UK Health Authorities Consume IT

The UK public healthcare system is currently under tremendous pressure to reduce costs as part of a wider review of public sector spending within the UK. However, this doesn’t stop the need for the constant evolution of its IT infrastructure to meet the growing needs of its patients and clinicians.

For the last 18 months, VCE has helped a number of local health authorities to rationalise their existing IT estates by modernising aging critical systems through virtualisation, whilst also increasing system availability.

All these health authorities had roughly the same core requirements: they needed to do more with less, both physically to save on continuous power and cooling costs, but also from a management perspective.

The obvious OPEX savings in minimising power and cooling costs by physically reducing a datacentre’s footprint was clear, but a more pressing challenge was enabling the current IT staff to focus on deploying new applications rather than supporting the aging infrastructure.

For the first time, clinicians were appealing to their boards of directors to make substantial improvements in the way patient records were stored and accessed. Clinicians need information to be mobile as they move between departments or as patients move between wards on the way to recovery.  In order to enable this transformation, IT needed to free up existing staff that had the knowledge of how this data needed to flow, but who were constrained by simply keeping the lights on with the original infrastructure.

VCE leveraged our partners’ existing healthcare initiatives to solve these problems and quickly transformed the IT infrastructure to better serve clinicians and patients.

By deploying Vblock Systems, our partners and the health authorities were able to quickly utilise a pre-engineered, pre-validated and pre-tested solution that was specifically tailored to their exact requirements.  The Vblock Systems dramatically reduced the time it took to deploy infrastructure and transition live workloads.  This was seen as a major benefit to both the health authorities and our partners – who viewed the Vblock System implementation as just a single task rather than an elongated project.

Our partners were then able to deliver a number of advanced services that they specifically developed for the health authorities within the United Kingdom. Of primary concern was the ability to deliver a secure desktop solution for clinicians to use anywhere in the hospital, accessed via a secure single sign-on technology.  Through VCE’s extensive knowledge in this area, we were able to combine both the VDI workloads and backend application workloads within the same Vblock System, whilst maintaining known performance and scalability matrixes for the projected lifespan of each solution.  Our partners then integrated the single sign-on technology for different health care applications, providing the clinicians with the portable desktop solution.

On top of the clinical desktops, the handling of patient records into a central, single location was achieved through the deployment of EMC’s Documentum product.  By deploying this plus other solutions in the form of EMC DataDomain, EMC RecoverPoint and VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager, VCE and our partners were able to provide the local health authorities with a complete IT infrastructure refresh program.  In addition, VCE provided a single number to call for all support requirements, which again reduced ongoing management costs and allowed IT staff to focus on improving clinicians’ IT experience and enabled the clinicians to focus on patient care.

The combined experience that VCE and our partners brought to these local health authorities was identified as a tremendous value and something that de-risked an otherwise difficult set of requirements the health authorities needed to achieve within aggressive timeframes.

About the Author: Andy King