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Birmingham hospital eases storage burden with e-mail archiving tool

University Hospital Birmingham has implemented an enterprise archiving system to help it manage increasing volumes of e-mail communications.

University Hospital Birmingham has implemented an enterprise archiving system to help it manage increasing volumes of e-mail communications.

The system, EAS from storage firm Autonomy Zantaz, was installed by system integrator Essential Computing.

University Hospital Birmingham is one of the UK's largest NHS Trusts, employing more than 6,500 people. Stephen Chilton, deputy director of IT at the hospital, said e-mail was increasingly used for communication between doctors, nurses and consultants, and the need for effective management had become critical.

He said the number of e-mails sent and received had doubled every year since 1999, reaching four million in 2007, and access to old e-mails could take weeks. The new system reduces this to minutes.

Since the system's implementation, Chilton said network performance had been enhanced and demand on core storage had been curtailed significantly.

"A far cry from the previously painful and long-winded process of retrieving e-mails, IT services can now respond to e-mail retrieval requests within minutes, rather than weeks, which frees up our time for more strategic activity," he said.

The trust's IT services team needed a product that could store, manage and retrieve messages securely and efficiently. Chilton said that despite the lack of specific rules regarding e-mail management, varous pieces government legislation influenced the decision to upgrade.

"There are no specific regulations governing the retention of e-mail messages in NHS organisations, but wider regulations, such as the Data Protection Act, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, Telecommunications Regulations and Freedom of Information Act, were influential," he said.

Glenn Perachio, director at Autonomy Zantaz, said stringent regulations in the US regarding e-mail storage and security, which are in force in the health industry, are likely to be mirrored in the UK. These include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

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