GPs and clinicians treating patients in and around West Yorkshire will soon have quicker access to information at their surgeries and health clinics thanks to a new fibre-optic network from Virgin Media Business.
The Health Informatics Service (THIS), the largest provider of IT services to the healthcare and social care sectors, is leading the project which is aimed at reducing the numbers of unnecessary journeys to hospital by revolutionising information sharing.
Services running over the new network will be available to around 33,000 NHS staff and will ease the transfer of data between GPs, hospitals, Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities, and boost resource planning. One of the changes that it can support in the future is making some routine treatments available at GP surgeries and clinics if appropriate, with staff at those local premises having much faster access to patient-specific and regional NHS data, giving patients greater choice about where to go for healthcare.
The new Wide Area Network is being rolled out to seven NHS trusts in the Huddersfield, Calderdale and Wakefield area, with plans to extend its reach as patient and GP take-up increases. It will deliver Managed Internet Access and IP Voice services, as well as carry videoconferencing applications for use in a clinical environment. The new network will support the movement of large images and data such as X-rays, which need to be sent at high speed and archived centrally. The trusts will also be able to make substantial savings compared to the costs of providing the services at central hospitals.
“This is an enormously important network project that will deliver real benefits to people in the West Yorkshire area. These people currently have to get the bus, catch the train or drive to hospitals for minor things that can be better provided within walking distance,” said John Rayner, director, The HIS.
“Our decision to use the Virgin Media Business network is rooted in how we’re partnering to deliver the services. The network will be rolled out in stages so we only pay for what we need, but we can easily expand it to deliver more healthcare services quickly; we’ve got access to a super-fast and secure network that will grow with us. Rather than it being a barrier to change it’s an innovation accelerator that can really help us to deliver better choice for patients,” he said.
Lee Hull, director of public sector, Virgin Media Business said: “Technology is revolutionising healthcare and it’s vital that the underlying networks delivering these new services can keep pace with change. By choosing us, THIS has been able to get a level of network sophistication and speed of delivery that it simply wasn’t available from current suppliers such as BT and KCOM. Technology can give patients more choice; after all who wouldn’t rather have access to care provisioning that’s available down the road rather than at a hospital located 5 miles away. This really is a great example of how innovative technology can help healthcare providers boost care at a very local level.”