NHS digital archive project under way

General Electric and EMC have won a £100m contract to install electronic image archiving systems in 70 hospitals as part of the...

General Electric and EMC have won a £100m contract to install electronic image archiving systems in 70 hospitals as part of the NHS's centralisation and modernisation programme.

The contract will combine GE's picture archiving and communication system (Pacs) with EMC storage systems.

"They're going to be able to streamline their patient data and images - put all the patient records in one location," said Jerry Layden, EMC global account manager for GE.

Layden said the contract was one of EMC's largest for storage systems supporting Pacs.

Pacs allows X-rays, MRIs and other medical images to be digitised, stored and transmitted electronically, avoiding the need for film development processes and delivery by post or by hand to doctors and technicians.

Earlier this month, EMC announced it had tightly integrated its low-end AX100 array with GE's Centricity Pacs for smaller hospitals. The NHS will use EMC's mid-range Clariion storage-area network arrays and Celerra network-attached storage arrays. It will also use EMC's Centera content-addressed storage array.

Each hospital site will have two Clariion arrays supporting the GE Centricity Pacs Enterprise Edition application. There will also be two data centres in each of five regions, with clustered Centera arrays holding archived medical images two years old or older for the 70 hospitals. Critical application data will be replicated between each region's data centres.

The government announced in May that the NHS in England would install nationwide digital imaging systems to allow patients' medical images and records to be transmitted via a web portal from a data centre to remote sites for medical diagnosis.

The overall NHS project has been split into five districts. EMC and GE won the southern district, which is the largest.

"We believe the networks now being established will greatly improve health care in England and will be imitated worldwide as health systems move the management of patient care into the 21st century," said William Castell, vice-chairman of GE and chief executive of UK-based GE Healthcare.

Lucas Mearian writes for IDG News Service

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