IT-savvy trust solves data storage crisis


Busy NHS trust installs VMAX data management systems in bid to go paperless

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has installed two new IT systems as part of a five-year plan to overhaul its storage infrastructure and eradicate paper-based processes.

The trust, which runs the New Whiston Hospital and St Helens Hospital, is deploying EMC Symmetrix VMAX systems from EMC Corporation to support 14,000 users.

The improvements will enable the trust to more effectively manage its increasing data storage requirements and provide medical professionals with quick and secure access to patient information, at any time and in any place.

The deployment comes as, over the past three years, the trust’s award-winning informatics service has seen its data storage requirements soar from 10TB to 40TB, with a predicted 20% additional growth over the next 12 months. Under the previous system, there was little opportunity for the organisation to digitise processes and do away with time-consuming paper chains. In contrast, VMAX enables quicker access to data, the ability to grade data according to importance and to store less critical data in low-cost storage solutions, and a 70% reduction in the time taken to back up information. The trust will also be able to easily increase requirements as pressures mount.

Phil Corrin, deputy chief information officer at St Helens and Knowsley Health Informatics, said: “The performance improvements offered by EMC are key to providing high-performing, reliable clinical systems.

“Prior to implementation, disk latency, for example, was very high for read-and-write requests sent to disks. Applications had a 20-millisecond latency before a response was received from the HP array and, as a result, end-users’ requests were at risk of timing out. With EMC, the average disk latency has been halved and is now well under 10milliseconds at all times, allowing critical systems to respond faster to users and run more smoothly.

“We always look to implement best-of-breed technology throughout the hospital, a fact that has won us awards within the healthcare and IT industry. We felt that EMC wasn’t just offering us a short-term fix to our storage problems, but actually helping us develop a long-term storage strategy. Choosing VMAX wasn’t just about us being able to store more information, but about how we can more effectively manage that storage.

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“Patient care is at the centre of every technology decision we take and we need to ensure that medical staff have access to the information they need, whenever they need it. As the trust becomes increasingly digitised, our storage requirements are only going to increase, but we know that EMC VMAX will help us to rise to the challenge.”