NHS Lanarkshire is responsible for improving the health of more than 563,000 people living within the North and South Lanarkshire local authority areas. The Health Board has three district general hospitals: Hairmyres; Monklands; and Wishaw General Hospital, and employs approximately 12,000 staff.
In 2012, NHS Lanarkshire made the decision to introduce a new Clinical Portal that would act as the Health Board’s primary EPR system moving forward. The Clinical Portal would be composed of a number of clinical software solutions that were new to NHS Lanarkshire and would need to be installed on new infrastructure. The individual software solutions had various system requirements which led to a challenging and complex overall requirement. The Portal would be critical to the safe delivery of clinical care in the Health Board, and due to the mission-critical nature of the project, it was confirmed there was a requirement to implement a resilient and robust server and storage infrastructure environment to run the application, which would also need to provide a suitable Disaster Recovery arrangement. It was identified that any current infrastructure at NHS Lanarkshire should be utilised where feasible.
Having identified this new requirement, NHS Lanarkshire used the opportunity to explore wider future IT needs and to support the notion of creating a more common ‘smarter infrastructure’ environment to provide continued and greater advantages in the best interests of the organisation in the short, medium and long-term future.
“NHS Lanarkshire has been impressed with the depth of skills and quality of service provided by Centiq. Their expertise has ensured we have a consolidated and optimised IT Landscape allowing us to deliver services with agility moving forward.”
Barry McAlister – Head of Systems – NHS Lanarkshire
In an exercise to determine how the new infrastructure should perform, NHS Lanarkshire assessed the service levels of the existing environments within the Health Board at the time and rated them on the performance they were achieving. This assessment consisted of four categories of performance: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. It was confirmed that all future Clinical Portal requirements (and any additional environments) must perform to the Platinum service level. This was determined as delivering no single point of network failure, database and server clustering, web server load balancing, 24×7 technical support, asynchronous data replication, warm standby servers and manual failover, amongst other features.
In 2010 Centiq, a vendor-agnostic specialist IT services provider, undertook a major and critical project to roll out Intersystems Patient Management System (PMS) across a number of NHS Scotland Health Boards, including NHS Lanarkshire, which was an overwhelming success for all parties involved. Centiq provided the design, build, implementation and support services for the PMS projects, which NHS Lanarkshire chose to adopt on an IBM-based platform. Two years into that project and the PMS environment was categorised by NHS Lanarkshire as a Platinum performing environment during the aforementioned internal assessment, due to the high-levels of reliability, scalability, high-performance and robustness of the IBM infrastructure, as well as the on-going 24×7 managed support that is still being provided by Centiq. It was because of this expertise and success that Centiq was enlisted to provide the equivalent design, implementation and support services for the Clinical Portal.
The solution adopted by NHS Lanarkshire, as recommended by Centiq, was based on industry-leading IBM technology and incorporates infrastructure designed specifically to meet the current ‘core’ and future requirements, which are covered by a managed support service delivered by Centiq’s 24×7 helpdesk. NHS Lanarkshire’s initial priority was to set up an environment that supports the new Clinical Portal applications. As such, the new infrastructure was designed to be run alongside NHS Lanarkshire’s existing environments, rather than integrate with them directly. This kept the deployment time to a minimum and did not impact the existing infrastructure.
The server infrastructure deployed by Centiq is based around the IBM BladeCenter technology platform. The Blade Chassis offers physical blade servers, which when combined with VMware, provide a virtualized infrastructure to meet the core requirements of the Clinical Portal. The Chassis itself is configured as a consolidated infrastructure to support the blades with integrated power, LAN and SAN networking capabilities. To provide as much flexibility as possible, fibre channel over thernet (FCOE) was recommended by Centiq, instead of a more traditional mix of LAN and SAN based modules.
The storage infrastructure deployed by Centiq is an IBM Storwize V7000 platform. This technology provides a mix of fibre channel and iSCSI connectivity to hosts, and also has the ability to virtualize additional third-party external storage behind the V7000, maximising the Health Board’s existing assets and meeting the requirement to utilise existing infrastructure wherever possible. This not only offers ease of management, but provides advance flash copy and replication features to be used with storage that did not natively support such features.