Improve Local NHS IT Fast – Get Rid Of the Legacy

By Tony Backhouse, Business Development Manager – Healthcare Division, SynApps Solutions

I want to take the opportunity with this blog to talk a bit more about the challenges that NHS customers have been telling us about – the kinds of challenges that have led us at SynApps Solutions to build not just our established VNA PACS platform but also our new Clinical Content Store (CCS) (see ‘Saving the NHS – Let’s Start with Local Health IT’)

What we are hearing from NHS Trust leaders can be summed up under the following headings, I think:

What to do with all the old data: the NHS legacy system challenge

Hospitals maintain a large number of systems for managing patient records and associated information. The problem: a lot of these systems have become “Read Only” or obsolete or are to be consolidated and replaced by newer technology. At the same time, they also have a lot of in-house applications that have accumulated large volumes of data and/or documentation over the years. And while a lot of this information is no longer ”Active”, it needs to be maintained, which can be costly. Meanwhile, in most cases, unfortunately, the performance of these systems is getting worse over time.

If they could, Trusts would like de-commission these systems so as to save the costs of all the associated software licences, servers, storage, and ongoing maintenance and administration these legacy systems represent. Especially, for all the multiple back up and archiving routines. But as I said, the data in these systems is still important and needs to be preserved. In fact, gaining access to this information in a patient-centric manner, whether across the hospital or externally across the patient journey is seen as something that will add significant value in the kind of new NHS its Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, envisages.

But first, we need to do some work on that mass of information that’s built up. We know that some of it we need to keep, for compliance reasons, meaning it cannot be deleted or altered. And it must be auditable, and readily available when asked for.

Well, the good news here is that the Clinical Content Store we have just built will let you work very effectively with that information, letting you easily retire, retrieve and in general, better manage inactive clinical application data and documents in a central, scalable, non-proprietary, compliant archive. Just some of the ways it does that is by a powerful, Web-based interface that enables search of data from decommissioned applications, even as far as cross-application searching via a single portal to view the information. Another feature is the way we can guarantee you a full audit, ensuring that the data is not tampered with and there is an unbroken ‘chain of custody’ from the point of data extraction to future usage.

All this capability means that we know the CCS can handle a big part of the admin load of the Trust. But that’s not all it can do, nor is it the only problem it was set up to tackle. Take another:

The data burden from your current, operational IT

You will also, of course, be running core, strategic systems that support the day-to-day running of your Trust – which tend to run on high-end servers, associated with high-cost storage platforms and which tend to be buttressed by expensive backup systems and configured for high availability and disaster recovery.

All of this costs – and as the volume of data being generated and managed by these systems grows, so does that cost. You will know that without effective management of such a stack, data application performance degrades, backups cannot be completed in available windows, additional software licences are required and upgrading applications becomes extremely difficult and time consuming. So you will have invested in archiving, 99% of which are point solutions addressing a particular system or data type – and whose use results in the creation of an increased number of information silos, which has just added to that legacy system and data problem we were just talking about.

What would be better? How about a unified archive platform, capable of ingesting and managing any type of data or content, structured or unstructured, on a low cost compliant infrastructure? A platform that also has a central archive that means your patients’ clinical data from legacy applications can be made available, so medical users have access to the information they need but admin people also have their needs met so as to serve the whole Trust’s business and compliance requirements. And what if that information can be shared using internationally recognized standards such as XDS?

If you had such a system, those legacy ones could be switched off, removing a huge chunk of support and maintenance costs. And as you retire old systems, you start to provide greater data availability for structured and unstructured data, as well as requiring less storage to accommodate the data. You can also stop paying unneeded application and database licenses and you will be able to reduce costs for backup, restore, and upgrades and cut down on all your data centre costs by removing solid servers that consume power, space and server support charges. The list goes on!

And that’s the list of what the Clinical Content Store can do. What’s better, we conservatively estimate that Trusts can bank on a data and storage bill of something like 60-70% less of what it would have been if you had kept it in your main operational system.

Putting all this together, it’s clear that the only real way to get on top of the data problem is to look for technology that works the way the CCS does.

Or even better, cut to the chase and use the proper Store itself!

We are currently offering a free consultative study to scope out the potential of CCS to meet your need, but be aware it is time-limited – so start talking to us today!

Please – take advantage of our seminar [] on Thursday 29th January at 12.30pm at the London Chamber of Commerce, EC4R 1AR, and find out more about the Clinical Content Store and how it can help you meet your EPR challenge.